Imagine your luck: Shortly after moving to the City of Angels, you come across a Craigslist ad for a boy band. You ace the audition and make the group. The group makes it on to a national talent competition show and signs to a major management company; a break that could make your career!
Except it doesn't. You know how it goes; new label heads, different vision, the group gets shuffled around and then dropped. So what do you do now? If you are Kelechi A. Kalu, you do it yourself. Kalu, a man of style and substance, follows where his passions lead him.
The first-generation Nigerian earned a degree in international studies with a concentration in finance and French from the illustrious Morehouse College, going on to work in the United States Senate. Next, he changed lanes and swerved into fashion as an assistant buyer at Macy’s and Gucci. But the classically trained cellist had music in his heart, along with the optimistic attitude that life is too short to not be all you can.
"I think a lot of people who know me know that I'm kind of schizophrenic in general, so I love fashion, but I love music and I love politics and why can't I be good at all three, or why can't I have vested interest in all three?" he told REVOLT. "During the time of the Harlem Renaissance people were writing and singing and acting, and I feel like we’re in a stage now that we can do all those things as young people and we can be whoever we wanna be."
Earlier this year Kalu released his debut EP as a solo indie artist, titled Creative. Drawing inspiration from Aretha Franklin and her voracious precision as well as Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim's musical storytelling chops, Kalu crafted a sound he describes as "pop soul with theatrical R&B."
New music is on the way for the dapper R&B singer, a project that Kalu says will be more lighthearted. His journey is by no means over, but he is breathing easier these days, coming into his own as an artist and proving to himself that the indie route is not impossible. Most of all, he's just not letting anyone dictate who he is anymore:
"This is a full circle moment for me, which encompassed being in LA and being in a boy band and having people tell me, 'This is who you should be' and not feeling comfortable with that," he said. "And leaving that situation feeling devastated, creating music, and thinking, I'm just gonna do what I wanna do and feel comfortable in doing that."
His message to you? "Be you, ‘cause I am."
Watch our full interview with Kelechi A. Kalu below: