Keb' Mo' announces new album 'Oklahoma,' inspired by 2013 visit to play a tornado benefit show
"I'm more interested in pleasing myself and making records that make me feel proud and make me feel like I've done my best. And if other people like it, that's gravy,” says Keb' Mo', assessing his new album "Oklahoma," set for release June 14 on Concord Record.
The album is now available for pre-order at found.ee/KebMo_OK.
Keb' Mo' also has revealed a series of tour dates, although it doesn't at this time include any Oklahoma dates.
In his quarter-century as a recording artist, the charismatic singer/guitarist/ songwriter and four-time Grammy Award winner has consistently made music that reflects his own passions and interests. In the process, he's earned a reputation for his ability to draw upon his roots-music expertise to make deeply expressive, highly personal music, according to a news release.
On "Oklahoma," the expansive creative vistas reflect the eponymous state's wide-open spaces. With noted musical veteran Colin Linden (The Band, Bruce Cockburn) heading up production duties, the album's 10 tracks encompass Keb' Mo's diverse talents.
"When you are in a certain part of your life, the concept of an album is woven into the process," he says in a statement. "All of these songs stemmed from important issues and topics worldwide that really resonated with me during the time we were recording the project."
The inspiration for the title track "Oklahoma" started with a visit to the state in 2013 for a benefit show with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, according to the news release. Keb' witnessed firsthand the aftermath of a destructive tornado.
"I thought about what it must be like to live in Oklahoma and all the great people that have come from Oklahoma," he recalls in a statement.
With just a melody in his head for a song about Oklahoma and little personal connection to the state, the title track was almost never conceived.
Then, the hands of fate led him to the meeting of, and a songwriting session with, Dara Tucker, an Oklahoma native. Together, they set about to portray the complicated depth of American history played out in her home state: Native American connection and tragedy, natural and man-made disasters, incredible musicians and the Tulsa Sound and Western ruggedness and fortitude are all themes.
Notable is the mention of Greenwood/Archer and Pine, known as “Black Wall Street” which was infamously destroyed in 1921 in one of the most devastating massacres in the history of U.S. race relations. Making a cameo appearance, Robert Randolph adds a haunting air with his lap steel.
"We chose to make the song sound lighthearted and ultimately about resilience," Keb' says in a statement. "Then, Robert came in and added some musical flavor. The result was beautiful, and I thought it had to be on the record, and ultimately, what I chose to be the album's title."
Having already established his adventurous taste in musical collaborators, Keb' has assembled an appropriately impressive cast for "Oklahoma." Rosanne Cash lends her powerful voice and uncompromising presence to the timely feminist anthem "Put A Woman In Charge."
"That was supposed to be a stand-alone single, but I loved the way it turned out, so I had to put it on the album," Keb' notes. "I'd never worked with Rosanne before, but somebody suggested that she might like it. She said yes, and she put down her part, and it was just so bad-ass."
Keb' says of the song. "It's about putting some nurturing feminine energy into how our country operates."
Meanwhile, Christian/Latin-pop star Jaci Velasquez lends stirring background vocals on "This Is My Home," a heartfelt tribute to the struggles of immigrants that effortlessly humanizes an often divisive issue.
Elsewhere on "Oklahoma," legendary roots-music icon Taj Mahal, who previously collaborated with Keb' on their Grammy Award-winning 2017 album "TajMo," reconnects for the moving environmental anthem "Don't Throw It Away," and "The Way I" poignantly tackles the subject of depression. The intimate love song "Beautiful Music" features a duet performance by the artist and his wife, Robbie Brooks Moore.
Overall, "Oklahoma"—which Keb' has dedicated to his late mother, Lauvella Cole, who passed away in September 2018 at the age of 91—maintains an impressive level of emotional engagement throughout, making it one of his most compelling collections.
"I'd been working on a lot of records for other people, so I worried that it might be a weak record because I didn't have my eye on the ball and was spreading myself too thin. But when all was said and done, we found the songs and we got the feeling right, and now I feel really, really proud of it," he says.
Since arriving on the scene in the early 1990s, Kevin Roosevelt Moore (rechristened Keb' Mo' around 1994) has earned a reputation for his mastery of multiple blues styles, his ability to combine traditional approaches with a contemporary attitude, and for his timeless storytelling sensibility. In addition to releasing a series of acclaimed albums, he's lent his talents to a variety of theater and film projects, and collaborated with a wide range of prominent musicians from various genres, as well as having his songs covered by a broad array of notable artists. He's also a vocal advocate for the preservation of the blues, and is active in charities that support music education.
Keb's guitar playing has garnered him his third invite to Eric Clapton's prestigious Crossroads Festival and has inspired leading instrument makers, Gibson Brands, to issue the Keb' Mo' Signature Bluesmaster and Bluesmaster Royale acoustic guitars and Martin Guitars to issue the HD-28KM Keb' Mo' Limited Edition Signature model. He has been featured in TV and film, playing Robert Johnson in the 1998 documentary "Can't You Hear the Wind Howl," appeared three times on the television series "Touched By An Angel," played a leading role on Hallmark’s "Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Higher Ground," and performed for President Obama at the White House.
"At some point, I began to realize that it's not just about writing a good song with a good hook and good lyrics, but it's also about writing songs that had something going on inside," says Keb', who moved his family nine years ago from Los Angeles to Tennessee.
"So, I started spending a lot of time rewriting lyrics, recording, rerecording and really working hard at it. I got to a place where I understood the anatomy of how lyrics can work, and how I can use them to put some substance into the song. It's like jelly donuts. I don't even like jelly donuts, but you know that every time you bite into one, there's gonna be something inside. At some point, I realized that you have to tell a story in some way, shape or form, and this record is a continuation of that realization."
Keb’ Mo’s store includes an exclusive Oklahoma marble vinyl edition with a 24 page, 12-inch-by-12-inch booklet, as well as signed copies and a wide range of newly designed merchandise limited to fans online at found.ee/Keb_StoreHome.
Oklahoma Track Listing:
- “I Remember You”
- “Put A Woman In Charge” (Featuring Rosanne Cash)
- ‘This Is My Home”
- “Don’t Throw It Away”
- “The Way I”
- “Ridin’ on a Train”
- “I Should’ve”
- “Cold Outside”
- “Beautiful Music” (Featuring Robbie Brooks Moore)
|5/7/2019||Rouge Theatre||Grants Pass||OR|
|5/8/2019||Arkley Center for the Performing Arts||Eureka||CA|
|5/10/2019||Fox Theatre||Redwood City||CA|
|5/11/2019||Golden State Theatre||Monterey||CA|
|5/14/2019||Livermore Valley PAC||Livermore||CA|
|5/16/2019||Luther Burbank Center||Santa Rosa||CA|
|5/18/2019||Poway Center for the Performing Arts||Poway||CA|
|5/19/2019||Thousand Oaks Alliance for the Arts||Thousand Oaks||CA|
|5/22/2019||Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts||Scottsdale||AZ|
|6/15/2019||The Stone Mountain Arts Center||Brownsfield||ME|
|6/16/2019||Lebanon Opera House||Lebanon||NH|
|6/17/2019||Sony Hall||New York||NY|
|6/19/2019||The Space at Westbury||Westbury||NY|
|6/22/2019||Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua||Bayfield||WI|
|7/1/2019||Colston Hall||Bristol|| |
|7/2/2019||Union Chapel||London|| |
|7/4/2019||Tivoliredenburg Hertz||Utrecht|| |
|7/6/2019||Ulmer Zelt||Ulm|| |
|7/9/2019||Amager Bio||Copenhagen|| |
|7/17/2019||Porgy & Bess||Vienna|| |
|7/18/2019||Poolbar Festival||Feldkirch|| |
|7/21/2019||Blue Balls Festival||Lucerne|| |
|8/23/2019||Blue Note Hawaii||Honolulu||HI|
|8/24/2019||Blue Note Hawaii||Honolulu||HI|
|8/25/2019||Blue Note Hawaii||Honolulu||HI|
|9/10/2019||Hattiesburg Saenger Theatre||Hattiesburg||MS|
|9/12/2019||The Pabst Theatre||Milwaukee||WI|
|9/13/2019||Northshore Center for the Performing Arts||Skokie||IL|
|9/14/2019||Michigan Theatre||Ann Arbor||MI|
|9/18/2019||McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square||Charlotte||NC|
|9/25/2019||The Armory||Fort Collins||CO|
|9/26/2019||The Armory||Fort Collins||CO|
|10/9/2019||The Egyptian Theatre||Boise||ID|
|10/12/2019||Eccles Center||Park City||UT|
|10/26/2019||Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise||San Diego||CA|
Keb’ Mo’ on the web: