How and when did you get started creating music?
I started singing publicly at age 5. I grew my voice in the church choir at Greater Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church. I further developed my gift at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Acres Homes, TX. I studied classical and chamber music all through high school. I joined my first band when I was 16, a ska band called The Blue Lights. I joined my current band, The Suffers, in 2011, and I’ve been doing music full-time since 2015.
For someone who has not heard your music, what would you tell them to expect?
People often tell me that I sound old school, modern, and familiar at the same time. I get compared to Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight a lot, but I take that soul sound and sing over everything from reggae and country to hip-hop and salsa. I try to spread messages of love and encouragement everywhere I go, so if you come to a show, you can expect to leave feeling better than you came.
What have you been up to during the shutdown?
I have been focused on self-improvement, learning instruments, and working on multiple albums at once.
Has it been more difficult or easier for you to create during the quarantine?
It’s been easier. I think a lot of that has to do with how much the isolation messed with my emotions. The time alone allowed me to pour out so much that I had been sitting on, and I’m grateful for it.
What is your creative process like?
It’s all over the place, and I love it. Sometimes It starts with a music idea. Either I’ll make a beat, acapella or strum something on my guitar. Other times, I’ll co-write with someone else that already has an idea written, or we combine what we both have. Once the base idea of the music is set, from there I usually freestyle lyric ideas until something comes to me. That is, unless I have some words pre-written. Other than maintaining a focus and a good vibe, I’m pretty free-flowing when it comes to creating. I love being in beautiful spaces when I write, but I can do it anywhere. I also love making up songs about other people’s lives while out people watching. I’ve been able to write songs comfortably on planes, trains, public buses, the beach….everywhere.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Forever, my answer was Prince. It still is, but my second choice is Salaam Remi or Questlove.
If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be?
Erykah Badu or Lauryn Hill
What is the most useless talent that you have?
I’m really good at doing handstands in the pool. I basically missed my calling as a gymnast.
Do you feel social media has helped or hindered your musical career?
It has done a little bit of both, but more than anything it has helped. It has allowed me to connect with music lovers all over the world, and I don’t take that for granted.
There is a stigma that an artist must “leave” Houston to become successful. Do you agree or disagree with that statement?
I’d agree to disagree. Everyone’s path is unique. I think leaving for long periods of time and then coming back, allows me to appreciate it more, but it’s harder to make it happen in Houston due to the lack of industry infrastructure. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. Some folks leave Houston for a bigger sense of community or safety and I respect that.
What’s next for you?
I’m finishing up my third album with The Suffers. We have a new single called, “Take Me To The Good Times” dropping on June 24th. I’m executive producing a project called The Bayou City Comeback Chorus. I’m heavily involved with HeadCount.org, an organization that uses the power of music to get people registered to vote, and I’m also working on my first solo full-length album. In addition to this, I got signed to an acting manager during the pandemic so I’m currently auditioning for TV and Film. I know it sounds like a lot, but I’m excited for the wave and the work.
What are ways that our readers could support you?
Tell folks about my band, The Suffers and listen to our music. We have been independent for 9 years, but word of mouth is how we get to keep doing this dream.
Where can we follow you and hear more?
Www.thesuffers.com is the best way to keep up with the band. I’m also very active on Twitter: @KamFranklin and Instagram: @bamitskam
Photos by: Jay Tovar