*You can take Keith Washington out of Detroit – although not for long – but you can’t take Detroit out of Keith Washington, ever. And for true grit R&B-soul fans, the latter is a good thing. After all, the Motor City is where Washington was born, raised, and musically influenced by many of the world’s best singers, songwriters, recording artists, and performers, some of whom were family members.
With his deep Detroit roots, Washington made his debut recording in 1991 with the smash hit “Kissing You.” The number one song resulted in Washington being nominated for a Grammy in the category “Best R&B Vocal Performance – Male.” What followed was a three-decade singing career, but not without epic ups and downs, which also morphed into his personal life.
On Sunday, April 11 at 9:00 p.m. (EST), TV One’s “Unsung” spotlights Keith Washington. The critically acclaimed docu-series chronicles the recording artist and performer’s journey to becoming one of the greatest R&B crooners of the era. As expected, his “Unsung” episode rhythmically begins in Detroit.
“I’m so proud to be from Detroit, where I learned so much about singing, harmonizing, and overall what music was about,” Washington told EURweb.com in an exclusive interview. “As we all know, the city is recognized for its musical talent, which included Motown and so many more great singers and musicians, some of which I was fortunate enough to perform with.”
Washington said those who tune into “Unsung” will travel with him through the rollercoaster rides of his life, which produced many good times, professionally and personally. Yet, the rollercoaster, at times, appeared it would derail, leaving his life in difficult times.
However, Washington always managed to find solid footing every time he stood on shaky ground. He said “Unsung” masterfully captures the essence of his highs and lows, where viewers will get a better perspective of how he persevered in the field of entertainment. Viewers will see how he navigated through controversy over a leaked recorded private phone conversation he had with good friend Aretha Franklin, getting through his mother’s death, going through times of depression, and more.
“In everything that you do in life, there’s going to be some good and bad,” Washington coolly said. “In my career, it started pretty well, but there were plenty of trials and tribulations. I learned, however, you have to recognize what it means to stay humble despite what adversity comes into your life.”
While singing has always been Washington’s passion, “Unsung” viewers will hear him talk about his recurring role on the iconic daytime television soap opera General Hospital. He also appeared in the film “Poetic Justice,” starring Janet Jackson and directed by John Singleton. Washington starred as himself on the hit sitcom “Martin.” Years later, he starred as the legendary Marvin Gaye in the stage play, “My Brother Marvin.”
“He is so much like Marvin that it was almost scary,” the late Zeola Gaye, who produced the stage play, said in 2013. “I’m like, ‘Okay, what’s going on…did Marvin’s spirits just jump totally into Keith?’ ”
“Unsung” viewers will learn while the acting bug has meant facetime for Washington on multiple platforms, his true calling is music.
“I understand who and what I am – that’s the bottom line,” Washington said. “I am a singer, recording artist, and performer. I will always stay true to R&B.”
And true he has been. Since recording “Kissing You” in 1991, Washington has charted with such songs as “Are You Still in Love with Me,” “If You Were with Me Now” (a duet with Kylie Minogue, which scored big in the United Kingdom and Australia), “Make Time for Love,” “When You Love Somebody,” “Bring it On,” and more.
Washington is candid on “Unsung” when he reflects on his two previous marriages, noting that he had two great women. However, as an R&B singer who specialized in singing sexy love songs to a predominantly female following across America and beyond, “Unsung” will show the challenges for Washington to stay faithful to his marriage vows.
“Keith has always been a lady’s man; that didn’t start with a hit record…It magnified the options,” Johnnie Washington, Keith’s cousin, reveals on “Unsung.”
However, viewers’ eyebrows may rise to the ceiling when Keith Washington’s first wife describes an incident when a stunning Brazilian woman showed up to the house to see Washington. The wife’s comments and reactions upon opening the door, letting her in, and seeing the Brazilian beauty – face-to-face – are not what viewers expect to hear in this situation – no way!
For Washington, the beat goes on. He says that he stays prayed up and focused on the music. He told EURweb.com that he’s working on a new CD, and one of the songs from it is featured on “Unsung.” Many of Washington’s female fans look forward to hearing new music from the crooner. Count songstress and diva Chante Moore among them.
“There is so much tone and full roundness to his voice,” said Moore. “He makes you feel what he’s singing, and it’s reminiscent of the Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass movement.”
Moore, who recorded a duet with Washington, titled “I Love You” in 1998, talks glowingly on “Unsung” about their professional experiences when both were signed to Silas Records.
“There were a lot of singers who could sing and dance,” Moore said of the other artists signed to the label. “We (Keith and I) were not that. We were like each other. We wanted to sing flat-footed, no effects, no hoopla; just our voices and looking handsome and beautiful at the same time.”
Washington is now based in Las Vegas, where he has built a home recording studio. However, he said he will travel to Detroit a few days before “Unsung” is aired. He will possibly see his episode with his family. And while in Detroit – his place of power – Washington said he will do some recording.
Washington also said he’s confident that viewers won’t be disappointed by his episode on “Unsung.”
“They will get the real insight to the man behind the music,” Washington said. “They will see the good and the bad of what I’ve experienced, yet, after 30 years since my debut album ‘Make Time For Love,’ I’m still here! “