When we first met Kingsley Ibeneche, he was dancing.
More specifically, he was onstage backing Kate Faust and her sensual electronic rock with impressive poise and fluid motion. The Camden artist, who studied ballet at University of the Arts and spent a few years after school practicing modern dance in Germany, has always been an interpreter of music, the vehicle that a current of music sets into motion. But the more time he spent around it, the more he began to absorb and incorporate music directly into his practice. This year, Ibeneche debuted with CHi, an eclectic EP that serves as a fine introduction to him as a singer and songwriter, an interdisciplinary artist.
Produced with multiinstrumentalist Lee “LeBeet” Clarke, the record has a thematic arc, exploring “insecurities, fears, hopes, dreams…through a Nigerian Man’s eyes in America.” (The album title, CHi, is short for Chineke, a word for “lord.”)
Sonicaly, it infuses electronic pop and suave R&B vocals with a variety of other stylistic angles, which we hear in the four songs Kingsley and his band performed live in WXPN studios for this week’s Key Studio Session. “LiLy” is slow and sorrowful, with hints of the blues; the shimmering new song “Walk Like You” is an up-beat soul number; meanwhile, “Numb” ventures into the outer-zones of atmospheric rock. And then of course there’s the unstoppable “Hidden Child,” an energetic pop tune with an instantly memorable refrain.
Performing live with Ibeneche on this session is Clarke on keyboard and guitar, Devon Taylor on drums, Rodgrigo Pichardo on bass, and backing vocalist Shelly. You can watch a video of the ensemble performing “Numb” below, and stream the entire Key Studio Sessions performance via Soundcloud. While Ibeneche’s gig calendar is clear for the rest of the year, you’ll be able to catch him January 12th in State College, February 10th at The Black Arts Festival, and February 23rd at The Barnes Foundation.
Kingsley Ibeneche, The Key Studio Sessions