Richmond jazz songstress Kenneka Cook on looping, her creative process & debut album

by | Sep 14, 2017 | FUNK & JAZZ

For the seventh installment of RVA Track’s monthly live music video series, the local film collective chose to spotlight Kenneka Cook, an up and coming, talented jazz singer who calls Richmond home. Cook has been looping her funky jazz vocals in Richmond venues and that combined with her pipes have earned her a solid place in the local funk and jazz club scene. She has performed with local band Mikrowaves, and now the powerhouse blues singer is stepping out on her own with a debut album due to drop this winter.

“I’ve been looping for about four years,” Cook said of her recent public performances. “Looping requires a machine, an effect pedal, and you say whatever you want into it, record it, and it will repeat on a loop. After I’ve added all my vocals, I beatbox to put it to a beat. I actually got the idea from Reggie Watts, and when I tried, it was so cool!”

The whimsical sounds that arise from Cook and the jazz ensemble make the listener yearn for more. Cook has a couple songs out on YouTube, plus a TEDx Talk, but that isn’t satiating enough for those of us who want to hear more. If the music emanating from the seventh RVA Track video is any indication of how Kenneka Cook’s debut album will play, then Richmond is in for treat.

“I’ve been singing all my life,” Cook said about the origins of her music. She takes inspiration from the greats like Billie Holiday, Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughan.

“I like to sing about love, how the world needs more love, heartbreak, and my intimate surroundings. I’ll read something, or someone will say something, and I’m like, ‘Huh…’ I’ll run with it.”

Her live music video by RVA Track, “Brings Me Back”, premiered Aug. 14 and as soon as Cook opens her mouth to belt out the tune you can feel the passion and the soul behind it. It’s captivating. The video was filmed by Craig Zirpolo, Daniel Bagbey, Gabrielle Silvers and Joey Wharton at American Paradox Records, with audio by Scott Lane (The Congress), edited by Daniel Bagbey, and features a cool short animation by Leslie Herman.

Cook just finished recording her 10-track album with Lane and it’s currently out being mastered. Fans can expect a mix of covers as well as several of the singer’s original tracks.

“About half of them are mine, with one song I wrote with Scott Lane, and the rest are covers,” she said. “There’s a Vampire Weekend cover, a Nancy Sinatra cover, a little bit of everything.”

Be on the lookout on RVA Mag for when Cook’s album drops and in the meantime, you can catch the jazz singer next at Cary St. Café on Mon., Oct. 2,  alongside Big Lean and Pheen.

Top photo credit: Melissa Brugh Photography


Christopher McDaniel

Christopher McDaniel

Christopher Alan McDaniel is a 2015 VCU graduate with his Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Creative Writing. Chris aspires to be a collegiate professor of writing in his future. Until then, you can find him hosting free public creative writing workshops with the Filthy Rich and writing grants for Dogtown Dance Theatre. Chris can also be found around Richmond’s breweries and music venues enjoying what the city has to offer.

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