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The Emotion Zone with Music Artist Bryan Khedive

Bryan Khedive, winner of JET’s Soundcheck Music Poll had music streaming through his soul since he was a toddler, if his mother told you the story.

“She tells me I used to walk around with a broken broom and sing through it,” the 24-year-old tells JET.

However, his memory kicks in around the time he was in fourth grade and his mom bought him four instrumental albums: Brandy’s Full Moon, Usher’s 8701, Aaliyah’s self-titled LP, and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

“I remember not wanting to go outside, listening to those albums day in and out and learning the words to every track.”

By the time Bryan, a Chicago native, hit fifth grade, music became his full escape and he tested his hand at songwriting.

Now, an independent artist with his first EP project, Don’t Mind Me, available to the world, the R&B singer takes a minute from his 9-5 as a social worker to talk about his artistry and plans for the future.

JET: Congratulations on being our second Soundcheck winner! How does it feel?

Bryan: First and foremost it is very humbling and exciting. I’m speechless. Thankful more than anything.

JET: You’ve been at this for a while and released your EP, Don’t Mind Me, in October. Can you describe the theme of the project and how it came together?

Bryan: I had an idea for a project years ago but I was always in school at SIU (Southern Illinois University) Carbondale and attended Grad School at U of I (University of Illinois) Champagne. When I got back to Chicago last August, I ran into Brandon Blanton, a former schoolmate, who’s a producer and owns a company called Boulevards and told him I wanted to work with him. We met every Wednesday for an entire summer when I got off work. I had different song ideas and would record the voice memos on my iPhone and we just went to work. Another friend $helby sings on ‘Blunt’ and my friend Gino Major who also went to Carbondale – I knew he rapped and used him on the project. So it was basically my personal experiences and friends’ personal experiences that inspired the writing, and I just escaped this past summer and had a ball in the studio. It was challenging and a lot of hard work but more than anything it was worth it. It was fun!

JET: Was the initial idea to tell a cohesive story or did that develop organically the more you wrote?

Bryan: I think both – just vibing out and creative expression. When I write, I always pull from any and everything to have an idea of what I want to talk about and then it comes out organically. I know for a fact that I want to tell a story and leave people in an emotional zone.

JET: When did you begin to understand your artistic voice and the stories you wanted to tell as a singer-songwriter?

Bryan: I’ve always studied certain writing and singing styles and mimicked [artists] so I’ve built up to this moment. I would sing at home and in church and people would tell me I had a great voice, but having the confidence to do it definitely came this year. After college, I was working all of these different jobs and I wasn’t happy so [I had to start nurturing my talent and become] brave, confident and keep God first in it, because HE gave me the gift. I’m understanding my voice more.

JET: As artists, expressing your vulnerability often connects with listeners. Did it take you a minute to get comfortable with putting your emotions out there on your first project?

Bryan: Of course! Every song. I was in the studio like ‘I can’t believe I just said that’ or ‘I can’t believe I wrote that. ‘Half of Me’ is very personal. ‘Sober’ is personal but it comes from my past relationship and some of my friends’ experiences. I’m sort of a private person, but high school and college prepared me to open my personality a little more. People think that I’m very talkative, but I wasn’t always this way. So…hell yeah! You have to learn how to be vulnerable, and this project is really personal. I’m a strong person but at the same time I’m sensitive because I’m an artist. So I’m challenging myself and accepting that this is the type of art that I want to do.

JET: So, the project is out and you’ve crossed that hurdle. What’s next in the plan?

Bryan: Right now, my producer and I are hitting up a bunch of open mics and I’m currently raising money to produce my first short film. It’s a short film that’s going to tackle social issues within a relationship and the song is ‘Blunt and Run’. ‘Blunt’ will be the introduction of the video and ‘Run’ is going to be the song of the actual video – Chase The Moose Productions. It’s amazing, just trying to raise the money. I’m an artist with depth, and I just want it to be dope. I’m working with college friends, and we’re building our team. I’m writing for my next project will be released on the 10th day of whatever month I choose. The overall goal in the next 5-10 years is to have a distribution deal or headline my first tour and perform locally, nationally and internationally. I’m not saying that I don’t see a label coming or having a record deal. If it happens, it happens. I just want to perform around the world.

JET: I dig it. What does success mean to you and at what point do you feel “I’ve made it”?

Bryan: I don’t want to sound corny, but it truly means to me being your ultimate true and growing self. You never stop learning and growing. Be the best person you can be and serve the people. I’ll get to the point where I feel like I’ve made it when I’m able to do things for my family as well as others. I have a dream of opening my own performance arts community center and build shelters around major cities. That would be the day I’d feel like I made it. I went to school for social work so I love helping people or doing things for others. Of course I want a Grammy or some accolade, but when I’m able to do for my family, others and book a show or two, then I’ve made it!

Be sure to cast your vote for our next Soundcheck Winner here!