Keke Wyatt | Unbelievable!


Keke Wyatt | Unbelievable!
Shanchie Entertainment

By Peggy Oliver

It seems Keke Wyatt is finally making up for lost time. Since being first introduced to the public in 2001 with Soul Sista, personal matters and record label issues consumed Wyatt’s path towards more radio exposure for radio and notoriety as a solo recording artist. Sure; she made her presence known as a duet partner to Avant and a few post Soul Sista’ singles in “Ghetto Rose” and “Put Your Hands on Me,” which kept the underappreciated R&B vocalist afloat. But her loyal fans are more than aware of the many frustrations Wyatt suffered that tripped up her career for a season, including the highly publicized abuse in her marriage. Fully moving forward at this point, Wyatt is opening a new musical chapter while raising her children and has been extremely busy in the past two years.

Now residing in Atlanta, Georgia, she recently flexed her acting skills in the regional musical play, “When Love Ain’t Enough.” When we last heard from Wyatt as a recording artist, it was just over a year ago for Who Knew? On her Shenachie Entertainment debut, I had the absolute pleasure of reviewing a pure flowing voice delivering throwback eighties R&B. Though there were some formulaic traps including a few sub par arrangements, Who Knew? was a healthy reminder that old school still could rule the day and that Wyatt refused to let the past overrule her future. As she continues her transition period personally and professionally, her latest project and Shenachie sophomore effort – Unbelievable – covers even more personal ground, especially in her passion of encouraging those who suffered abusive relationships.

There are several must hears throughout Unbelievable, starting with “Light Me Up,” a guitar driven mid tempo R&B piece of sweetness about the pleasures of being in love. With a soundtrack emphasizing a clanging bell, the title track and first single declares an ecstatic feeling when one finds that special love for life. “Mirror” features the dynamic and perfectly matched trio of Wyatt, Tweet and Kelly Price. The ladies transform this riveting piece into sort of a mini opera about the frustrations of surviving domestic abuse. “Enough” also tackles the subject of abuse in the style of a raw sixties soul ballad (think Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings). Wyatt serves full justice on the electrifying ballad that put Miki Howard on the urban music map in the eighties, “Love Under New Management.” From her impeccable phrasing to pure soprano, her vocal range can not be touched by many of her counterparts in the current R&B market. The songstress shows off her subtle humorous side on “Miss Your Plane” where she fears her lover is leaving for good: “Baby I hope you miss your plane; pray that there’s traffic when you are on your way.” The Eric Clapton inspirational tribute (and monster hit in 1991) to his four year old son at the time, “Tears in Heaven,” is given the full soulful makeover while keeping the original melody intact. Then there’s the crème de la crème: a stunning five minute a cappella masterpiece, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” In her earlier years, Wyatt sang demos for the gospel market, and sometimes I wonder after hearing this classic spiritual if she could have committed to this genre. But that said; she is more than content to serve in the R&B community for now.

Between Who Knew? and Unbelievable, Wyatt continues to impress with her vocal presence. On the latter, more appropriate steps were taken to showcase her strengths, especially incorporating additional covers. The major exception was the very disappointing “Saturday Love,” featuring Ruben Studdard, which is drowned in auto tunes and lacks the vocal chemistry compared to the 1985 version by Alexander O’Neal and Cherrelle. With that small misstep, the work on Unbelievable comes highly recommended. Hopefully, Wyatt will keep passing on that durable instrument and gutsy spirit on a more frequent basis.

Peggy Oliver
The Urban Music Scene