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R&B Artist Kenyon Dixon on Grammy Nomination and What It Takes To Be 100 Percent Independent

The singer also reveals which superstar he’s working with on their new album.


Feb. 13 2024, Published 6:52 p.m. ET

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Kenyon Dixon is a Grammy-nominated independent R&B artist who found a way to make his dreams come true. His soulful sound has allowed him to work alongside music icons and create a powerful lane of his own. With his latest album, The R&B You Love, Dixon is providing clear evidence of his talent, passion, and respect for the beloved genre. Dixon’s journey wasn’t an overnight success story, as his path to this moment took years of professional and personal growth and hard work that barely got recognition.

Dixon grew up in the church, where he realized music’s power and had a huge level of respect for it, even in his youth. However, what set him apart from so many others is his connecting love of writing.

“My skill for writing has always been there – even from an educational viewpoint,” he said.“I was in advanced writing classes and often entered into oratorical competitions. Actually, when I graduated from high school, my initial plan was to become an English professor. It just so happens I’ve been able to co-create.”

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Dixon combined those skills and he soon found himself serving as a background singer with artists such as Kelly Rowland, Nick Jonas, Chris Stapelton, Kirk Franklin, Justin Timberlake — whose album he’s working on — and more.

“The amazing thing is I got to work with people I'm a fan of,” he said. “It’s no different than a paid internship. I’m looking at them and getting paid to get free game. I’d pay attention to their stage presence, how they interact with fans, and everything. Collectively, they’ve all made me comfortable for where I am now.”

Dixon is an artist that R&B lovers should keep on repeat and discuss with a level of respect, which he doesn’t take lightly. While he admits that there’s a plethora of current artists such as Alex Isley, Kevin Ross, Jay Novah, and more that he enjoys, the 2000s era has a special place in his heart.

I grew up on quality,” says Dixon. “I’m the youngest of seven, and both my parents are musicians and in church. So there was already an expectation to be high-level. When I was able to listen to R&B, it was the 2000s. My understanding and appreciation for music were always important; I just never let it go. Plus, growing up, I couldn’t listen to R&B, so when I could start listening to that’s the R&B I would listen to.”

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The song “2000s R&B” also features RL from the R&B group NEXT. According to Dixon, RL was extremely helpful in bringing his vision to life on the infectious track. It was also a moment that told him he was meant to be in the game. .

“I already had a high level of respect for him because of what he did for the game,” Dixon said. “He was like, ‘Whatever you need, I got you.’ So I sent him the song and he sent it back 24 hours later. I wanted to make the song feel like something from that era. So, I told him to feel free to change the second verse, but he kept it. That was the best part for me. For someone like that to approve of it, felt great. He’s an amazing guy, a gem in this industry.”

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It’s no secret that Dixon takes the artistry of singing and performance seriously. In 2022, Bad Boy Records founder Diddy stated that R&B is dead during an Instagram Live session with Timbaland, and with how much he loves the genre, Dixon knew something was up because the business mogul isn’t a major figure in that respective space.

“I knew immediately it was just promo,” he says. “Because that’s a weird statement to make from someone who was not currently in that space. He’s made incredible music, but speaking as a current artist, I think we all felt a way about the statement. It felt invalidating – it was conflicting.”

Dixon also reflected on the path it takes in being an independent R&B artist.. The journey can be full of highs, but the lows are something that isn’t really discussed among people.

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“As an independent artist, there’s a lot of stuff that you feel like you should have access to, but you have to work ten times harder,” Dixon says. “Sometimes that can be very discouraging. I had to be okay with embracing the journey I chose. It was my decision to do this independently. Plus, I make the kind of music that’s not necessarily popular among this culture of listeners, they’re starting to get back, but I make more classic R&B. Many would consider it a lost art form in mainstream music.”

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He continues, “There’s different levels of being independent. Some artists partner with labels, but I’m legit an independent artist. Like, I pay for everything out of pocket. I upload my own music and check my own lyrics – I’m not submitting to a label to do that. It's comforting, though, because this is what I’ve always done, but to be able to do it at this level and get finally rewarded for it feels really great.”

The two-time Grammy nominee is excited for listeners to continue enjoying and discovering the new project. As he explains, “This is quality R&B for real people who want to hear it, not talk about music that they don’t like. This is my offering to the conversation. We can get online and chat about how terrible the music is that labels are promoting to us, or we can highlight the artists who are actually creating it. This is for the people who just want to hear classic R&B.”

Take a listen to Kenyon Dixon’s new album, “The R&B You Love,” which is available on all streaming platforms.

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