If you're looking for music that carries an old soul feel and exudes authenticity, let us introduce to you 21-year-old Kenya Vaun from Philadelphia. In 2018, Kenya released her first single, "Movie Night," followed by "Bout Me." Given her distinct sound and style, we weren't surprised that 300 Entertainment provided her with her first record deal in 2022.
Later, Kenya dropped another single titled "Overrated," followed by "Summer," a song that now has over 100,000 plays on YouTube alone.
Kenya's music has a timeless quality that is sure to endure. Her authenticity and connection to the great R&B artists of the past are evident in her work. If you've already come across "Summer" on Apple Music or Pandora Radio, you (like many) are eager to learn more about Kenya and the inspiration behind her unique music.
Lucky for you, BleuMag caught up with Kenya to discuss this and more. Keep reading for all the deets from our exclusive interview with Kenya.
Who is Kenya Vaughn and what artists inspired her to create music?
BleuMag had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Kenya in 2023, allowing us to better understand her taste in music and where her inspiration derives from. Here's what she had to say.
BleuMag: So, you're from Philadelphia. Tell us about growing up in the city of brotherly love.
Kenya: It wasn't that bad. I was there for a few years till my mom moved us to a small town called Norristown, about 20-30 minutes out of Philly.
BleuMag: Where did you get your taste in music from?
Kenya: I got my music taste from my mom. Her favorite artist is Mary J. Blige. She also listened to other R&B greats such as Lauryn Hill, Angie Stone, and more. But India Arie was a person I listened to a lot. The messages behind her songs always spoke light to me.
BleuMag: Would you rather listen to 90s R&B or 2000s?
Kenya: Honestly, the 90s. Though I wasn't born in the 90s, the era of music in the 90s hits differently, from the sounds to the authenticity.
BleuMag: Describe the creative process you follow when making music.
Kenya: My process starts with me writing my music. I always say, 'If the beat doesn't fit, then you know the song can't be completed. Once the beat is locked in, I can start working on melodies, flows, etc."
BleuMag: Your newly released single "Summer" is out now. The song sums up summer in New York. What is it that you like about being in New York during the summer?
Kenya: Summertime in New York is different. Living here, I've had the opportunity to meet many people and go to multiple venues. New York is a city that never sleeps. Being here, it is easier to get around. Everything is open for the most part over here. Living in Philly, places are closed by midnight.
BleuMag: Are you still enrolled in school? If you, how do you manage to balance it with music?
Kenya: I paused school recently. But, I still communicate with all my professors to see what my schedule will look like next semester. I want to get some stuff in order before going back. At the moment, I'm 100 percent focused on music. It is better when you're able to focus on one thing.
BleuMag: Being 21, do you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself?
Kenya: Not necessarily. My time will always come. In the meantime, work hard, make strategic moves, and always be consistent.
BleuMag: What can fans expect from your upcoming EP?
Kenya: I will keep an eye on the downtown for now (Kenya laughs). The EP will give you different elements of my artistry.
Media personality Joe Budden has already taken notice of Kenya Vaughn.
In May 2023, Kenya’s hit song “Summer” was featured on the Joe Budden Network. Within a few seconds of playing the song for listeners, the former rapper and podcast host admitted that Kenya had done "a great job" with the track.
If Kenya continues down the path that she's on, we forsee nothing but greatness for the up-and-coming artist.