Kerry Kilpatrick (above left) and Canadē (above right) are creative partners who, together, make up the Atlanta-based duo VIBEbrations.
As two Black men unafraid of writing songs about identity and their place in the world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their creativity runs deep.
Both men earned their performing stripes singing in church (the first song Kilpatrick performed was “The Hammer Song”), so stepping onto Atlanta stages wasn’t exactly a foreign concept. But today’s music landscape, which rewards authenticity and honest storytelling more than ever before, has provided new opportunities to sing about their struggles and lived experiences as a form of healing, growth, and connection — from a more personal level.
“I’m a Black feminine gay man, so the struggles for me are a little different than being a Black masculine artist,” Kilpatrick notes of the challenges some artists have faced historically from record labels. He adds that because he and Canadē are independent artists, they have the ability to “create freely” and to build their own teams.
“Being able to break those norms of gender or feminine qualities versus masculine qualities, we’re able to display so much through music,” he says. “I know that what I have to offer is so needed, and the expression of it needs to be at the forefront.”
In the last year, the pair have teamed up with various organizations that give back to the community — including the Jed Foundation, which helps teens and young adults dealing with mental health issues. That’s a cause that’s dear to the musical duo’s hearts. Their experiences with nonprofits have reminded Kilpatrick and Canadē why they’ve chosen this path.
“Music allows me to authentically be me,” Canadē explains, saying his motivation is more personal than that of those pursuing fame. “I think some people are focused on the popularity of being a star or being popular and they’re not realizing that fame isn’t as pretty as you think it is.”
He says artists like himself and Kilpatrick have put time into their music compared to some who haven’t invested in their craft. “That’s what I studied from the greats like Aretha, Luther, Whitney, Patti. Those were artists because of their craft and their intention on what they were doing. Social media is grand…but it can dilute what it means to be a great artist.”
The pandemic provided new avenues of storytelling and introspection — both of which have fed the duo’s creativity.
“It pushed me nicely into my artistry,” Kilpatrick notes. “I didn’t know how much I needed the world to pause, and with it actually pausing and stopping, it shot me to a place of wanting to tell my story.”
While the future is bright for the duo, as they continue to mold and shape and fortify their sound, their focus is not on chasing an audience’s approval but rather staying true to themselves.
“For me, with the audience, I don’t really focus on that,” says Kilpatrick. “I say that because my purpose will allow the people who are supposed to hear the music, hear the music. And it will impact the crowd that it’s supposed to impact.”
He explains, “When you focus on [approval], I feel like you lose sight of the vision. I’m ready to focus on the vision and the purpose because I know what it’s going to do and who it’s going to impact — outside of just being Black or feminine, or those types of things. I want it to be relatable to so many people. And in order for me to do that, it’s going back to being authentic to self and remembering what my purpose is.”
Photography BLAIR DEVEREAUX @pbd
This feature is part of Out's 2021 Fashion Issue. The issue is out on newsstands on August 16, 2021. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.