Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Leigh Stephen Kenny

Leigh Stephen Kenny


After reviewing last summer' outstanding debut CD by little known British soul singer Leigh Stephen Kenny, this writer went down to Kenny's J-Wave showcase concert at On Air East in October. Expecting a small crowd of record company types, the place turned out to be packed. On January 10 and 11, Kenny returns to give his rapidly growing number of fans in Japan a closer look in two shows at Shibuya Club Quattro.

To give an indication of Kenny's intimate approach, consider this. One of the songs on LSK, "Hate Or Love," is a ballad about sibling rivalry and the complexities of brother-sister relationships that he sings with his own sister, Rhianna. Rhianna, who tours with her brother and with her own strong presence and crystal clear voice, was central to the show's success in October, almost upstaging Kenny himself.

Growing up the son of mixed race parents in Kent, Kenny was able to absorb and integrate a variety of musical styles with an ease that seems unique to British artists. In LSK, he draws on rock, hip hop and reggae to complement the defining soul-oriented mood of the album. One song in particular, "Fruit Of Many Roots," speaks of Kenny's background. On his website, Kenny explains about the song:

"I'm the fruit of many roots. I've got Canadian, French, Irish, Scottish, Jewish and black roots. I believe my grandfather's Cuban. I'm neither black nor white, and that's what the music's about. It's saying, wake up, there's a million and one people like me out there."

With Kenny - whose voice is vaguely reminiscent of that of tragic talent Marvin Gaye - touching a chord among music fans in Japan who see him as the new face of British soul, look for his shows to be well attended.

Leigh Stephen Kenny plays Club Quattro on January 10 and 11. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana