R&B Singer Kem Talks Beating Drug Addiction, Homelessness

By McCarton Ackerman 07/17/14

The top R&B artist is giving back to his hometown Detroit with a free concert to benefit the homeless.


R&B singer Kem overcame homelessness and drug addiction to become a top recording artist and he’s now trying to help others beat the odds.

Kem, who is releasing his fourth album Promise to Love on August 26th, is hosting a free concert two days before the album release to help the homeless in his hometown of Detroit. The third annual installment of the concert, Mack and Third, is free to the public.

The singer struggled after high school and found himself at rehab facilities, homeless shelters, and prisons throughout Detroit. He used music as comfort and played the piano at the shelter every night, but was eventually kicked out after breaking rules at the facility. After being left with no choice but to sleep outside, he became determined to change his life.

“I came to a place where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said. “I gave up on trying to do things my way and started to listen to some people who had better ideas about what I should be doing than I did. I’ve had some difficult patches in my life, as we all do, and I think that when we are allowed to come through the other side of turmoil, we have an opportunity and a privilege to talk about it and let people know about it, so that they too can overcome.”

In recent years, Kem has become an advocate of drug courts and has even spoken at conferences in support of them. “As a recovering addict, I've been given a lot in my life, and it is important for me to give back anytime I'm asked,” he said in 2011. “Until recently, I was unfamiliar with drug courts, but...I have a lot of appreciation and gratitude for the work drug courts do. My recovery is what has allowed me to enjoy living in my gifting. My recovery is my foundation - my music is secondary.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.