sealPurdue News

August 22, 2002

Bluesman Keb' Mo' brings his unique sound to Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A solo evening with the popular blues singer-guitarist Keb' Mo' will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in Loeb Playhouse.

Admission is $22 for general public, $18 for Purdue students and children K-12. Tickets can be purchased at Purdue box offices or charged by phone at (765) 494-3933 or (800) 914-SHOW. Tickets also are available at all Ticketmaster outlets. Keb' Mo' is presented by Purdue Convocations.

Winner of two Grammy Awards, Keb' Mo' is known as a writer and singer who communicates with authenticity, heart-to-heart.

"With every song I think there has to be something real – a kind of an arm reaching out to reality," the Los Angeles-based musician says.

A painstaking writer, Keb' Mo' lets his compositional ideas gestate. Then, when the music and lyrics coalesce, he's ready.

"Making a song is like hatching an egg, you just sit on it," he says laughing. "You have to have something to write about, that's the key."

In the studio he simply sings, careful always to maintain what he calls "creative integrity" and concentrating "on the message of the song."

Underscoring all of his music is the wellspring from which Keb' Mo' draws.

"The blues is my history, my culture," he says. "It's always been around me. I always wanted primarily not just to be a blues guy, but a songwriter. But the blues gave me depth."

Whether writing with Bobby McFerrin, Melissa Manchester or Leon Ware, or crafting compositions on his own, Keb' Mo' expresses human emotion with the integrity that made him a triple winner in 1999's W.C. Handy Blues Awards.

As he puts it, "I'm just lucky to have found a niche that's just me. Its nothing I have to contrive. This is just what I do."

Just as McKinley Morganfield became Muddy Waters and Henry Saint Clair Fredericks became Taj Mahal, the singer became Keb' Mo' once he got deep into the blues.

Born Kevin Moore, he grew up in Compton, South Central Los Angeles. At 12, he began playing a guitar he received from his Uncle Herman. As a teenager, he also blew trumpet and French horn. In his first band, a calypso outfit, he also played upright bass and steel drums.

After playing with a Top 40 group, Moore hooked up in 1973 with Papa John Creach, violinist with Jefferson Starship; his guitar is featured on three of Creach's albums. Then, concentrating on songwriting, Moore joined A&M records as a staff writer.

By 1980, the singer-guitarist had released his first solo album, "Rainmaker." Three years later, after a stint with the vocal group The Rose Brothers, he began performing at the L.A. nightspot Marla's Memory Lane with The Whodunit Band, an ensemble of ace blues players.

Enthralled by the grit and bite of the country blues, he concentrated on solo acoustic work.

He went down to Mississippi to hang out with veteran Delta bluesman Eugene Powell. Playing a Delta bluesman himself in the early '90s Los Angeles Theater production "Rabbit Foot" and later in "Spunk," an adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's writings, he expanded his stage experience. All the while, he continued playing club dates around L.A. He became Keb' Mo', a street talk version of his own name that signaled his allegiance to the music that helped form his own.

As Keb' Mo' sums up: "With my songs I hope to create a sense of community. This music is made so that people who come around it all kind of have something in common."

CONTACT: Larry Sommers, Purdue Convocations, (765) 494-5045,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of Keb' Mo' is available at

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page