The R&B singer battled back from years of drug addiction and homelessness to become a two-time Grammy nominated artist.
Kem, who begin playing the keyboard at five years old and writing songs in middle school, credits his faith in God for his success.
“Music has always been a part of my life throughout my addiction,” the singer said. “My faith is my foundation and I look at my music as a ministry.”
“People hear about my struggle and what they are witnessing is a miracle,” he said. “I don’t take it lightly and I speak about it on stage where ever I go.”
Kem will be performing along with Chrisette Michele at the Valentine’s Love Affair concert Saturday at the Arie Crown Theater.
The Detroit-based singer said Chicago was one of the early supporters of his music career.
“I paid for the recording of my first album ‘Kemistry’ using an American Express card and sold it out my trunk,” Kem said. “George’s Music Room and some other music stores in Chicago would order from me and I would ship it to them directly from my house.”
The album drew the interest of Universal Motown Records who re-released the album in 2001.
Kem has released four albums, his most recent being “What Christmas Means,” an album of Christmas standards and original songs in October 2012.
Kem’s singing style is often compared to performer Al Jarreau, which doesn’t trouble him.
“It is one of the highest compliments I could ever be paid,” Kem said. “We always talk about doing something together. He is always gracious to me and I appreciate him.”
Kem has branched into acting by appearing in the feature film, “Sparkle” which starred Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston in one of her last roles before her death.
“I had a brief but poignant part in ‘Sparkle’,” Kem joked about his role as a nightclub host. “We all had love and adoration for Whitney. ‘Sparkle’ was a nice cap on her career and I was glad to be a part of it.”
Kem recently produced the song, “My Favorite Things” a duet with him and legendary R&B singer Ron Isley for Isley’s upcoming album, marking the first time he’s produced for another artist.
He also never forgets how far he has come and gives back through the non-profit organization, “Mack & Third, Inc.” that he founded to aid the homeless. For the past three years, he’s presented a free concert in Detroit, with all profits benefiting the homeless. Kem along with Morris Day and the Time; and Frankie Beverly and Maze have performed at the events.
“I understand the needs in the community on a personal level,” Kem said. “It is important to carry a message of hope and give back any time that I can.”