Grammy Nominated & Soul Train Music Award Winner, "Keith Washington is" Kissing You & Telling All!

Updated: May 4

Keith Washington has achieved a number of milestones within the industry from nominations for Grammy awards to winning a Soul Train Music Award, an achievement few artists have ever been able to accomplish in the music and film business. A string of hit songs followed by an appearance in the television drama series Martin also ratified his undisputed success. It is safe to say that Keith Washington is an all-round talented individual, who is determined to reach even more than he has ever thought possible. The privilege I had of speaking with this amazing talent led me to share with you some of what he shared with me about his life and career.

It’s so good to speak with you! I’m a personal fan of your music! I think you are a phenomenal vocalist.

Thank you very much!

Keith, are you still living in Detroit? No, I’ve lived in LA for quite some time and just recently relocated to Las Vegas about four years ago. I still go home to visit my family in Detroit.

So how did it all begin for you? I am one of three boys and three girls. My sister, “Elaine”, who is passed away now, heard me singing in my room and told my mother when she came home from work. So, my mom told my aunt who was involved in the music business and was connected to various TV shows & nightclubs in Detroit.

Because of my aunts’ connections in the music industry, this opened the door for me to begin performing around Detroit around the age of 6. At that young age, I became world recognized. I appeared on TV shows in Canada, “Swingin Time” and I opened for lots of major acts that performed at “The 20 Grand” in Detroit like, “Brenda Russell”. That went on for a while. From that point on, my name began circulating around Detroit.

When I was around 9 years old, I remember my uncle coming to our house and having a conversation with my mom about going over to Motown. At that time, “Berry Gordon” wanted to have a meeting regarding me. But the meeting didn’t happen because my mom had bipolar and at that time her condition began to worsen. So, because my mother was always involved in my career, he didn’t want to take me without her. So, because of this, they decided to cancel the meeting. Consequently, it never happened. So, when I became a teenager, I became a part of a local group in Detroit.

Tell me about your teenage years? When I was around 16 years old, I went to live with my aunt and uncle. A few of the original members from group “The Dramatics” were her neighbors. My aunt’s house set on the corner. On the left side of her house about three doors down there lived,” Lenny Mayes” and on the right side of us was “Ron Banks”.

They went to school with my family. I went to “Persian High School”. So, my uncle and aunt kind of knew them, so as you can imagine, to meet the “Dramatics” at such a young age, was an exciting experience because “L.J Reynolds (LJ) was one of my heroes.

One day, while walking down the street, I ran into,” Lenny Mayes”. We struck up a conversation, they heard me sing and they really gravitated to me. This is what led me to going on tour with “The Dramatics.” I wasn't part of the Dramatics, but I was part of a team. I was part of the band. For example, in the middle of their show, they would have me come up and sing. They would feature me. That was the first time I ever sang in front of 6000 people. It was amazing!

Did you have stage fright? No, I didn’t have stage fright. I was past that point. At that point, I was accustomed to being on the stage I was used to it. So, I ended up touring with them for quite some time.

How old were you when you left Detroit? I was about 20 years old when I left Detroit. I met my wife, “Marsha Jenkins” around age 23. We then moved to Charlotte, NC. I never imagined that living in Charlotte, NC would be the very place that my success as a songwriter would begin. You never know where your success is going to happen. We moved there because she had to relocate. She worked for the airlines, got promoted, became an agent, and stopped flying.

How did you become successful in Charlotte? I ran into a few producers, Sonny More, Greg Shelton and other great producers like Paul Lawrence. Paul Lawrence was one of the producers for “Freddie Jackson”. That's when Freddie came out with, Rock with Me” and all those other hits. Paul Lawrence was one of the producers of that album.

How did you meet Paul Lawrence? Sonny Moore was a friend of mine, and he knew Paul Laurence. See, when I met Sonny in Charlotte, we started talking because we both had production studios in our homes. So, he and I started writing together and one day he called me and told me that Paul Laurence wanted us to write a song for Freddie. So, I wrote “Hey lover” by “Freddie Jackson”. It ended up becoming a huge record for him. That was my first wow! That was my first royalty check signing with ASCAP. It’s the best feeling in the world to get paid for what you love doing. I said to myself, now I am an official songwriter. My name was behind one of the biggest R&B singers of that time. I was very excited about that!

Because my wife worked for the airline, I was able to fly for free. So, I would fly back and forth from Carolina to Los Angeles taking meetings and so on. It was amazing because before my wife and I got married.

Tell me a bit about Don Davis? Don Davis was like my godfather. He owned a studio called “United Sounds Recording Studio” and owned the first independent bank in Detroit.

He was also involved in the dramatics career. When I was around 19/20 years old, he allowed me to go down to his recording studio and write songs. He had producers down there working and writing with me.

Well, one time, while I was in the studio, a bunch of people came in to listen to me while I was recording. One of the people there was one of Ed McMahon's daughters from the hit TV show, “Star Search”. Don rented them a big room for their auditions. They were looking for talent. So, they came in there while I was recording me to do star search, but I was not interested. The reason for my apprehension was that I felt that they had favorites. Plus, the guy who had been on there for a while, who was always winning, they wanted me to go up against him. I felt as though there was favoritism.

I wasn't insecure of about my ability to sing and perform well. I knew I was well equipped and prepared; it was just that I just felt as though there was favoritism. I felt that I will be fighting and losing battle. You know, the politics. But they convinced me to do it. So, I did.

At that time, I hadn't written any songs for Freddie Jackson or anything. So, Dan Davis suggested that we would sing in original song called “You Are My Life.” He wanted me to open with that song and then the second song would be a well-known pop song. He said that I will kill them with this song! There wasn't any question that I There wasn't any question that I could have out sung that man. The only problem was that, in general, people relate more to songs they are familiar with. I remember repeatedly telling Don, “They don't know “You Are My Life”, they don't know that song. He felt that it would be a good idea because my delivery of that song was so point on. He felt that I sang that song very well.

The judges must have relatability to the song as well, and I felt that we would not win because of that. I suggested that we do a song that they (the audience and judges) knew first. Then we could add a couple other songs in then include that song somewhere along the way as I’m winning.

Unfortunately, I ended up performing the original song first. The audience loved it! So much so that they gave me a standing ovation! So much so that they gave me a standing ovation! But somehow, I still did not feel comfortable. turns out that my feeling was accurate because one of the judges gave me a half a point. she told me that it's no question that I was good and that I was a star, reason that she gave me a half a point was because, they didn’t recognize the song.

The guy that had been on there for a while, sang a bunch of “Sam Cooke” songs. These are songs that people recognize. But at the end of the day, it turned out to be a good thing because it gave me lots of exposure. That was a great part of my life.

Thank you for sharing that experience. How did your career progress from there? Well, I got married in Charlotte. Also, Charlotte was the place where I wrote the song for Freddie Jackson. But I would fly back and forth to LA to network, meet people and get exposure. Eventually we moved to LA permanently. Amid that, I was signed to a little label that was distributed by a A&M records. “John McClain”, who was the executive producer for Janet Jackson's and so many other careers, he was the A&R director over at A&M rec