It is doubtful that anyone, no matter how altruistic, is any more in love with Detroit or more concerned with helping those in need than KEM. It’s a matter of giving back in the most real sense of the often talked about but not always practiced concept.
“The city’s been good to me,” said KEM in a phone interview without detailing his own past from the dark side of life. “I want to help organizations like Detroit Rescue Mission, Neighborhood Service Organization and others like them that helped me. They lifted me in my time of need, so we do what we can so they will have the resources to continue to reach out to help others.”
The event, taking place on Sunday, Aug. 28, is officially titled “KEM Live @ Mack & Third: A Call to Service.” (No, Cass Park is not on Mack and Third, the area where many homeless and drug-addicted people reside. It is located across the street from Masonic Temple, boarded by Ledyard, Second and Temple in Midtown.)
“A Call to Service” is an all-day event that starts at 1 p.m.
The first such free concert, in 2009, drew a massive crowd, there to have a good time for
a worthy cause — providing meals and canned goods and more to those in need. And because of the shaky economy, the number of needy has increased.
Interestingly, Cass Park has long been known for the multitude of illegal activities that go on there. However, in preparation for the 2009 concert, the benches were removed. Afterwards they were not replaced, thus reducing the number of unsavory characters hanging out and doing business there.
“I didn’t know that,” said KEM.
The park is not likely to ever become family friendly, but any improvement is appreciated.
The magnitude of the success of that first concert was gratifying for all parties involved and a pleasant surprise because, as KEM put it, “We really didn’t know what to expect.”
KEM knew he wanted this to be an ongoing event based on that success but as it turned out, there wasn’t time to stage a 2010 event properly, so the decision was made to wait until the following year.
The most surprising aspect of “KEM Live @ Mack & Third: A Call to Service” is that the special guest will be none other than Morris Day & the Time, whose style and music are drastically different from KEM’s mellow, laid back style and jazz-tinged music.
The Morris Day & the Time choice was for a good reason: KEM “wants this to be a party,” the group was available, plus they had worked together on a Tom Joyner cruise. He offers assurance that in addition to him doing his best, the audience will be able “to get their ‘Jungle Love’ on.”
KEM will, of course, perform a generous number of songs from his three certified Gold albums, “Kemistry,” “Album II” and “Intimacy: Album III,” along with some surprises. (Work has begun on his fourth album.)
In addition to the music, there will be food and merchandise provided by vendors, free health screenings and prizes.
On a lighter note, KEM, who is so grateful to be living his dream, has had the opportunity to meet many of the artists he admires, including Jill Scott, Adele, Pat Metheny, Fred Hammond, Sting, Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan.
“I get star-struck all the time,” he acknowledged.
Those interested in making a donation, volunteering, or being a sponsor or a vendor are invited to visit http://www.mackandthird.org. You could win a free two-year lease on a Chevy vehicle.