Heard on Progressive Underground

Kindred The Family Soul Brings Family Values to R&B

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Image credit: Courtesy of Kindred The Family Soul

Listen to 5 essential tracks about love, family and commitment from the husband and wife duo.

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In the early 1990s, Aja Graydon and Fatin Dantzler were both were paying their dues in the music industry — Fatin breaking into music producing material for the new jack swing group Bell Biv Devoe and R&B act Pebbles while Aja secured a recording contracting with Delicious Vinyl as a solo act. 

The two met around 1997 via an introduction made by the Philadelphia-based group The Roots. The pair had instant chemistry. As they began writing music together, their creative partnership also forged a romantic relationship, ultimately resulting in their marriage.

The couple left music for a time to support their growing family, but when Fatin was let go from his job, the couple took a leap of faith and began performing together at the iconic weekly music showcase “Black Lily” at The Five Spot in Philadelphia, a series famous for launching the careers of neo-soul and progressive soul luminaries. The pair began cultivating a reputation as a duo who could give amazing live performances.

After catching their performance at Black Lily, Hidden Beach Recordings President Steve McKeever signed the duo to a record deal. Their debut album, “Surrender to Love,” dropped in 2003. 

With its relatable themes grounded in love and family, the pair drew comparisons to other successful married musical pairings including Davis Jr & Marilyn McCoo and Womack & Womack (Bobby & Linda), as the album earned critical acclaim with its old-school soul but with a progressive neo-soul twist. 


Listen to 5 essential tracks from Kindred The Family Soul.


1. Far Away

Kindred’s debut album “Surrender to Love” garnered nominations for the Soul Train Music Award and BET Awards while establishing them as an act to watch at the height of the neo-soul movement. The buzz generated from their debut filtered through to their sophomore release, 2005’s “In This Life Together,” an album that continued Kindred’s exploration of Black love through the lens of mature, adult contemporary R&B. 

2. Where Would I Be (The Question)

At a time when the music industry often highlighted bling culture and misogyny, Kindred The Family Soul’s positive representation of Black love was refreshing to many listeners and became an anthem for music lovers who valued storytelling with marriage and family themes. These sensibilities were illustrated on the single “Where Would I Be (The Question),” which reached the top 10 on the urban adult contemporary charts.

3. No Limit

Always looking at ways to mentor and introduce artists in the same manner that they had been, the group also started producing events to showcase new talent. One such event was “The Upper Room” featuring a then-unknown John Legend.

As their influence grew in various music circles, so did their family. Their third release titled “The Arrival” was a nod to the birth of the couple’s twin girls.

4. All My People (Boogie Back Remix)

With the changing economic storm winds of the recession gripping the country, the duo was soon without a major label deal and released their next two on the boutique label Shanachie Records. They went fully independent on 2016’s “Legacy of Love” and 2021’s “Auntie & Unc.” 

Kindred remained busy expanding their platform beyond music, writing the children’s book “Momma Said, Clean Up!” based on a freestyle song performed by their children and featured on their 2014 “A Couple Friends” release. Their dedication to community and communal uplift inspired them to establish two signature annual events in Philadelphia, “Kindred The Family Games” and “Kindred the Family Reunion.”

5. Stars

Kindred The Family Soul’s body of work has always been focused on various nuances of their relationship with consistent family-oriented themes of life, love and genuine intimacy. Their revolutionary style centers on everyday themes familiar to families, like paying the mortgage, taking kids to school or trying to find some quiet time to spend with each other. 

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Chris Campbell, Host, The Progressive Underground

Chris Campbell has a deep interest in curating Detroit’s rich music scene and presenting it to the world-at-large.

ccampbell@wdet.org Follow @cambeaux

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