KEM Returns to 2017 Cincinnati Music Festival

By Betsy Ross, Contributing Writer

R&B singer Kim Owens, better known as KEM, will be returning to the 2017 Cincinnati Music Festival, performing Friday, July 28 at Paul Brown Stadium. KEM, who has four albums to his credit, including Promise to Love, returns as a fan favorite to the festival, and KEM says he appreciates the support.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “The Santangelo family first and foremost has always been good to us over the years. And I grew up in the Midwest, I grew up in Detroit, so when we play the Cincinnati Music Festival, we get people from Indiana, people from Chicago, so it’s a different kind of homecoming in a way, a nice gathering of my fans from other places in the country.”

“And I get to watch other artists perform, backstage up close and watch Charlie Wilson and Jill Scott so we’re looking forward to being back again this year.”

KEM will be sharing the stage Friday night with, among others, Mary J. Blige, SWV, En Vogue and Bell Biv Devoe, performers that he thinks will take fans back.

“That’s really a lineup that speaks to the memories and the music, the soundtrack of many of our lives,” he said. “People are going to rediscover and revisit moments in their lives when they first heard that great music, and we’re gonna party, we’re gonna laugh, we’re gonna cry and most importantly, we will be sharing the love.”

He’s also working on new music right now with a single due this year and an album in 2018. He’s also working on a book titled “Shelter,” an autobiography of his earlier struggles.

“A lot of people know my background of addiction and homelessness, and I’m going into greater depth of those things in my new book. It’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to what the new year brings.”

KEM’s birthday comes five days before the Cincinnati Music Festival. Is he planning to continue the birthday party while he’s in town? “Any time we’re in Cincinnati playing the music festival, it’s a celebration,” he said. “I’ll be heading back home, spending time with family and friends, setting up this next year which is going to be exciting for us.”

KEM may be a regular at the Cincinnati Music Festival, but he says he is thrilled for the opportunity to return.

“Any time we’re invited back, we’re very grateful. We go through great pains to make sure we put on a good show for the folks. Paul Brown Stadium is a grand venue, it’s a grand stage to be on. It’s a privilege to perform there and it’s one we don’t take lightly or take for granted. This one has a feel of its own.” 

In turn, long-time Cincinnati Music Festival promoter Joe Santangelo explained why he brings KEM back to the Cincinnati Music Festival year after year.

“He’s one of the acts, in my mind, that connects with the audience more than just about any act I know.

That’s what we’re looking for, for people to come and have a really positive experience, not just with a concert but with the overall experience of the festival. And I don’t know of anybody who does that better than KEM.”

“It’s good to work with a great promoter,” KEM said in return. “And that really goes into the decision whether or not to do the show. There are a lot of festivals we don’t go back to. They really go out of their way to make it nice for us, comfortable for us. It’s really become a family event for us.”

The 2017 Cincinnati Music Festival line-up includes the following:
Thursday, July 27 Party with a Purpose:  Doug E Fresh, Kid Capri, Rob Base
Friday, July 28:  Mary J. Blige, KEM, SWV, En Vogue, Bell Biv Devoe, Ed Thomas
Saturday, July 29:  Usher, Fantasia, Anthony Hamilton, Confunkshun, Ro James

Tickets for the Cincinnati Music Festival are on-sale at