Kemp Harris

Kemp Harris

 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Kemp combines American roots, gospel, soul, and african folk. His live shows vary from solo performances to full-band shows. His latest CD, "Edenton," features The Holmes Brothers on backing vocals and was met with rave reviews from Downbeat, All About Jazz and others.


Kemp Harris is a composer, musician, author and actor. WIth almost four decades behind him as a songwriter and performer, Kemp Harris has collaborated with a surprising list of talent. He has shared the stage with Koko Taylor, Taj Mahal and Gil-Scott Heron, as well as composing original music for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Born in North Carolina, Kemp taught himself piano and was writing songs at age 14.

In his latest release, "Edenton," Harris' wide range of experience comes through in a powerful and intensely personal album. The album features the legendary Holmes Brothers on backing vocals. With the support of the Holmes Brothers, Harris' original songwriting and performances reflect a mature artist not content to rehash the cliches of the blues and roots genre. Harris shows his willingness to fuse diverse elements in the search for a more modern and timely blues. "Edenton," brings an edgier, darker vibe to this traditional American music style.

Kemp’s previous release, “Sometimes in Bad Weather”, is a thoughtful tapestry exploring the intersection of American roots music, jazz, and African folk influences.

Kemp currently maintains a songwriting residency at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts in Boston in conjunction with Berklee College of Music, assisting talented young artists with composition and performance.

As an actor, Kemp has performed in television, film, and on stage. His more recent work includes Steven Spielberg’s "Amistad".



Written By: Kemp Harris

(This tune was originally written about the hypocracy of intolerance in a small southern town. Unfortunately, the recent proposals for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage make it timely...)

I don't go to Ruthie's no more, no

I don't feel welcome 'cause here they come marching
Like we the people with constitutional rights

And they call on the Lord with all of His Might to strike me down
That's why I never stay around

I went knocking on the church front door
I met a man named Leviticus quoting from the Bible
Wrote a chapter in the book, had a copy in his hand for proof
That's why I try to stay aloof

They're just God fearing people with family values
And they don't value no family with people like me
That's why I try to let them be

I said good-bye to my mother today
On the road to Gethesemane walking in the rain
No escape from the lions, let the gladiator games begin
And I call to the crowd for mercy but still no justice comes
Only their down turned thumbs

They're just God fearing people with family values
And they don't value no family with people like me
Their eyes are open but the just don't see

What makes them think they're so beautiful
What makes them think I'm so wrong
Don't they know we all can be beautiful
Why does it always take so long

On the line between church and state
There was a man from the government trying to find evidence
Told me that the love that I felt for my brother was wrong...

They're just God fearing people with family values
And they don't value no family with people like me

Maybe love will set them free


Edenton - 2007
Sometimes In Bad Weather - 2002

Set List

Kemp's performances range from high-energy full band performances to intimate piano/vocals shows. Scores of original material allow the band to carry an entire night; however, the band can also draw from a large, diverse catalog of jazz, soul, R&B, and blues covers.