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Kendrah Butler-Waters - FAITH WALK

Kendrah Butler-Waters - Faith Walk Cover

FAITH WALK is a soon to be released CD from Philadephia-based pianist, vocalist, violinist and educator, Kendrah Butler-Waters. Musician and scholar, she holds a dual Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology from Temple University and Masters degree in Elementary Education from Drexel University. As a performer, this brilliant keyboard artist brings to mind the speed and dexterity of a McCoy Tyner merged with the delicate romantisicm of an Art Tatum; all gift wrapped in a Soulful and Gospel inspired package. Butler-Waters has performed at countless jazz venues including the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, The Philadelphia Clef Club, International House Philadelphia, Museum of the American Revolution, the Philadelphia Museum of ArtMandell Theater, Venice Island Performing Arts Center, Cape May Jazz Festival, Lancaster Avenue Jazz Festival, Ardmore Jazz Festival, Turn Up the Love Festival, Chris’ Jazz Cafe, Community Education Center and abroad.


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Butler-Waters has participated in and/or served as music director in a number of Philadelphia Jazz Project events including; Given: Women Composers Respond to Duchamp in 2020, We Shall: A Lyrical MLK Celebration in 2019 & 2020, The 7 x 7 Venice Island Concert Series in 2015, Frosty: Cool Holiday Celebration in 2014, PhillyCAM Session - television series in 2015 and more. She has also done various solo piano performances, one of which was a solo piano tribute at the Pennsylvania premier of producer/director, Carol Bash’s documentary film, Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band. Kendrah Butler-Waters has also scored music for the documentary titled, “The LaMott Community Garden” sponsored by PBS’s, “Our Community Stories.” Most recently, she performed and composed new work for LeVar Burton and his “LeVar Burton Reads” Tour episode titled, “Driftglass”; a work by famed author/Sci-Fi Innovator Samuel L. Delany.


Even as the Global COVIC-19 Pandemic has slowed the entire world down, Kendrah Butler-Waters has been very busy this year composing and playing. With the upcoming release of FAITH WALK, PJP asked her to share her thoughts on the project and her music.


PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?

Kendrah Butler-Waters 3Kendrah Butler-Waters: I would describe my musical direction as a cacophony of African American musical traditions; that being jazz, gospel, the African folk song and even classical influences. Deeply interwoven in my music are stories and experiences that are both personal, familial, and community based.


Being both a composer and a musician, I lean more towards composing original works for trio to 10-piece orchestra.


The central theme in the music I compose or arrange is a desire to encourage and challenge the listener.

PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Kendrah Butler-Waters: I’ve studied very intensely both Classical and Jazz traditions and both have a huge influence on my creative approach. Composers such as J.S. Bach, Sergei Rachmoninov, Mary Lou Williams, Nina Simone, Bobby Timmons, Erroll Garner, Quincy Jones and Aretha Franklin are some of the most pivotal influences on my musicianship, performance, and composition. I reference their style and approach to composition and performance throughout the journey of my music with demonstrated through a custom style that is definitely my own.



PJP: Tell us about your most recent CD project?? Why is it important?

Kendrah Butler-Waters: My new CD, “FAITH WALK” is my first solo album that I’ve released. I actually recorded the album 2 years ago while I was pregnant with my first child Sebastian. The journey of motherhood (now I have 2 children – youngest is Kendrick), being a wife, a daughter to a mother whose health has taken a drastic change and a shift in professional and musical opportunities has been a complete and utter walk of faith. I also connect my faith to my experience as an African American woman.


I truly believe that it was the faith and fortitude of African American people is what enabled and continued to enable us to strive and succeed. My faith in God has always had a presence in my music and how I express myself musically. This album will take you on a journey of pride in self-identity, encouragement, reflection of the past, and will hopefully connect you to the necessity of building a bright and promising future.


In the times that we are in, it is especially important to hear music that reflects hope and faith. It is my belief that God is working in the midst of the challenges we face in life and is right there to guide us and push us through. It is my earnest prayer that this album reminds the listener that life is bigger than what’s in front of us, to hold their head high and know that God has got their back.


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PJP: Who performs on this project with you?


Kendrah Butler-Waters: Featured in this project are the following musicians –


    ▪      Nimrod Speaks – Bass
    ▪      Justin Sekelewski – Bass
    ▪      Daryl Jackson – Drums
    ▪      Gusten Rudolph – Drums
    ▪      Jeff Skull – Guitar
    ▪      V. Shayne Frederick – Vocals



PJP: If folks want to find out more about your CD, or to purchase it, how might they do that?


Kendrah Butler-Waters: The albums’ official release date is October 20, 2020. You will be able to purchase the album on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and Spotify. You will also be able to purchase a “Physical CD” of the album directly from my WEBSITE and I’ll make sure it’s shipped to you!


You can also purchase my new single: “The Negro Spirituals” directly from my WEBSITE or watch the video on YOUTUBE HERE


PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?


Kendrah Butler-Waters 5Kendrah Butler-Waters: Jazz has always been a genre of music that spoke to my soul. Both instrumental and vocal jazz has always been a part of my life since childhood. When my mom would play Gloria Lynn and Nancy Wilson albums (2 of my favorite vocalists) and Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock albums (2 of my favorite artists), I could feel the music. With jazz always being an ever-present part of my life, I couldn’t think of another genre that serves my soul and allows me to serve the souls of others in such a holistic and complete way.


When I play jazz and when I’m listening to jazz, it’s a conversation between artists, a conversation between the notes and lyrics I compose, a conversation of genius and simplicity, and a conversation of love and ancestry. Jazz is an ongoing conversation that has lived through so much history and is still evolving.


*Kendrah Butler-Waters' - FAITH WALK available on CD and as digital download starting on October 20th, 2020.


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You can keep up with Kendrah Butler-Waters' creative activities by checking her out on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, YOUTUBE or via her WEBSITE.


In addition, find Kendrah Butler-Waters' work on 3, FREE Philadelphia Jazz Project Mixtapes Here: PJP MIXTAPE #3, PJP MIXTAPE #4  &  PJP MIXTAPE #5



Check Out Kendrah Butler-Waters In Action In these Videos:






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Philadelphia Jazz Project, which is a sponsored project of the CultureWorks | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.



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Tags : FAITHWALK KendrahButler-Waters Pianist Vocalist Violinist Educator AfricanAmericanMusic NewCD Soul Gospel Bach Rachmoninov MaryLouWilliams NinaSimone BobbyTimmons ErrollGarner QuincyJones ArethaFranklin BlackWoman Motherhood Faith Hope Storytelling NimrodSpeaks JustinSekelewski DarylJackson GustenRudolph JeffSkull V.ShayneFrederick PhillyJazz


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