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The best kept secret in music


"All You Need Is Six Strings And a Little Hope"

All You Need Is Six Strings And a Little Hope - Spotlight On Singer/Songwriter Kendal
By Emily Keller 04/19/2006
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Kendal performs with his band at the Five Spot. Photos By Emily Keller
Some musicians spend their lifetime striving for recognition in the Big Apple.

But the self-taught singer/ songwriter/guitarist and producer Kendal Zeigler – who goes only by his first name when he performs with a bass player, drummer, and two back-up singers – has gained a following in Brooklyn less than six years after he first picked up a guitar.

Kendal, a New Jersey native, former resident of Bushwick and Pace University graduate who describes his music as rock and soul fused with electronica, will be featured at Acoustic Tuesdays May 2 at KILI, 81 Hoyt Street between State and Atlantic, at a free show that begins at 8 p.m. He also plays regularly at Five Spot, 459 Myrtle Avenue, in Clinton Hill, and has played in Williamsburg as well.


“I started with the guitar and a lot of hope,” Kendal said at a March 18 show at Five Spot that he says he played because: “I like the Brooklyn vibe.”

One of his back-up singers, Maya Paone-Drummond, who has been singing since she was a little girl and comes from a musical family, said she enjoys performing in Brooklyn in particular because she says, “I think Brooklyn in itself has an essence like no other. It has a lot of history. I think it’s great.”

It was in only one year – between Kendal’s junior and senior years of college – that he went from writing poetry to singing to playing guitar. “It just kind of evolved for me,” he said.

Kendal took some piano lessons when he was younger, and said, “It started to click and connect when I picked up the guitar, but I had to basically re-learn everything.”

About guitar, he said, “It’s a hard instrument to learn. I’m still learning. You never stop learning.” Kendal generally records music – which is different from his live music – in his basement, where he says, “I pretty much make something out of nothing.”

His lyrics, which he says are mainly about “dark love,” are as important to him as the music. “Most of the songs came out of some kind of painful experience. I don’t write too well when things are going well. I’m finding it’s harder to write nowadays,” he said.

“I just want it to sound like musical poetry – thought provoking and well written. I don’t want to put dribble on paper.”

Having a job that is thought-provoking and interesting is also important to Kendal, who teaches language arts at Edison Middle School in West Orange, New Jersey, after originally studying English to become a music journalist before becoming bored with hip hop.

Then he decided he wanted to be a writer for other singers until a friend told him to sing, and he was hooked. Kendal also spent time in the publishing field.

“At first I hated kids and then they gave me the worst kids and I ended up loving it,” he said. “I always said I just wanted a job that meant something.”

When it comes to writing music, “Almost everything is done by ear,” Kendal says.

“We don’t have any sheet music. If it sounds good we’ll do it,” echoed Paone-Drummond.

Kendal said his music is influenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Richie Havens, Curtis Mayfield and Bjork, and his band members “all come from different backgrounds,” which makes their music unique.

“I love everything. I like some country even,” said Paone-Drummond, whose favorite kinds of music are R+B and funk. “I’ve always loved performing since I was a little kid,” she added.

The bass player, Dave Chege, has a rock background, while Kendal’s upbringing was mostly with hip hop and soul music. Kendal said his drummer, Will Fletcher, comes from a background of gospel and R+B, and Paone-Drummond is pop-oriented, while Olivia Berrois, his second back-up singer, brings Latin flavor to the band as a Latina.

“From what’s out now, based on what the public’s offered, I think we’re definitely fresh,” he said.

Kendal has released one CD so far, called “Cut From A Stone Edge Soul,” which was made with different members than he has in his current line-up. He expects to record a live CD soon as well.

For more information visit

©Courier-Life Publications 2007
- The Brooklyn Courier

"Kendal Styles Refreshing New Sound"

While the music industry remains full of lame excuses for musicians, like party-girl turned pop star Paris Hilton and the ultra lame Nick Lachey, it's easy to forget that there are people out there with actual talent.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Kendal isn't content singing someone else's lyrics to Kanye's or Pharrell's beats. In fact, he wrote, sang and produced nearly every song on his latest album, Cut From a Stone Edge Soul.

Kendal's influences range from The Red Hot Chili Peppers to Sade to Bjork, and they can definitely be heard in his album. In "Sun for Me" and "Mistakes" the use of the guitar gives the songs a rock sound. The vocals are also very unique; Kendal sounds as if he really was cut from a soul, making it a genuine R&B record.

Kendal's sound is very different then that of more mainstream R&B artists like Ciara or Usher. Falling more under the slightly controversial sub-genre called Neo-Soul, which can be loosely described as a modern return to the more classic soul sound, fans of musical artists Kem or Seal would likely appreciate Kendal.

His music does much more than just sound pretty. He writes thought provoking lyrics that cover a range of topics from his love of music, to his past relationships, to the promotion of hatred and cruelty. Scattered throughout all of these topics are allusions to some of his musical influences: Bob Dylan, Robert Johnston and Alicia Keys.

Some particularly memorable songs are "My Last Demand" in which he declares he will be "singing his own grave song." Other tracks, especially "Me'shell and Sade" and "Cruel Heart Creed" are very strong additions to Cut From a Stone Edge Soul.

While the album has its hits and is a true work of art, Kendal proves that this recording is one of true talent, considering that many songs are wonderful, but very few would be labeled hit material. It may be slow to draw you in, but after a few spins it will work its magic on you. Cut From a Stone Edge Soul will not get the party started, but you can certainly chill out listening to its songs.

You can go to to order the CD, find upcoming shows or read what the artist has to say about his own music.

- Pace University Press


Cut From A Stone Edge Soul- LP, 2004
Heights in the Decline- EP, 2007


Feeling a bit camera shy


He's a writer, vocalist, guitarist and producer, but finds his element performing in front of a live audience. His New York and New Jersey shows attract a varied audience of bohemians and old school soul lovers. Ask any of them what Kendal's sound is like, and you might hear something like, "John Legend with a guitar," or " Me'shell Ndegeocello, but a man," or "Sade with a Red Hot Chili Peppers influence." The truth is, Kendal has the charisma and originality of any of these individual artists, but clearly feeds off of the energy of his cohesive back up band. Together, the group performs with a unity and sense of integrity that is timeless.

Timelessness is a theme that runs throughout Kendal's music and image, hence his resistance to flash-in-the-pan photo shoots and gimmicky singles. From the moment he began performing solo, the suggestions began pouring in: be more R&B to appeal to a broader fan base, or more hip-hop to cater to what an audience expects from a 20-something African American male.

The expectations were acknowledged but ignored, and Kendal has gone on to create his own genre. Redirecting the consciousness of the average mainstream radio listener isn't an easy task, but he's up for the challenge.

Kendal continues on his own path, confident that the right audience will find him and stay for the journey.