Kenneth Williams, Engineer & Musician – Black History Month (Part 1)
February 26, 2021
By Liam Klenk
Kenneth Williams is a versatile artist and technician. He is a passionate guitarist and song writer. At the same time, Kenneth does live sound reinforcement, broadcasting and recording (Front of House and Monitors). He also takes care of concert tours and venues as a production manager. Kenneth loves what he does and literally blew me away with his inspirational ponderings and his contagious positivity. Not wanting to cut any of his words, this ended up being an interview in two parts.
Here is Part One for you all…Kenneth Williams in his own words:
Like many, I’m just at home at the moment. Right now, I am writing with Norman Brown. He’s like George Benson 2.0. Norman is a BAD MAN!!! We’ve written quite a few songs together.
I understand a lot of people have suffered financially during this pandemic. I’m fortunate that I wasn’t one of them. For me, this was a time full of creativity and reflection.
Usually with the hurried nature of our job we don’t get the time to decompress and figure out what we want to do and where we want to go. We just go.
We’re just busy, busy, busy checking for the next thing.
Now, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’ve been in my production studio every day. It’s been a good time.
The last gig I did was in February with Erykah Badu. I am her production manager and front of house engineer.
I remember, March 18th, 2020, I had everybody ready with tickets and hotels. But we didn’t know if we were still going to have shows that weekend.
One of the guys was on his way to the gig. We had to cancel, and I had to call him at the airport to tell him he had to go back home.
From March 2020 until now I did one screening event. And the rest of the time, I’ve been working from home. I’m sitting here in my studio now. Working on a song and loving it.
The most important thing, first and foremost with everything, is honesty.
For my work that means to get the mixing as true to the artist’s vision as possible.
This period of enforced down time due to the pandemic has been so eye-opening. About situations, people, work, and everything else.
Just simply having the opportunity to sit back and not necessarily have to be anywhere.
It gives you a certain clarity that you will never have when you’re running.
It’s like being in a war. When you are on the battlefield, you don’t have time to think about strategy. You have to react to what’s right in front of you.
This last year has given me the opportunity to think about things I want to do and things I don’t want to do.
I am very fortunate that during this time there were also people I’ve drawn closer to within the industry.
I am a musician as well. And that’s one of the things about the music industry… all of us who work in it, we tend to gravitate towards each other. Even as far as our associates and friends go. Because work ends up being a big part of our life.
When people who are not in the industry ask, “Are you working this weekend?” What I think immediately is, “Honestly I haven’t worked in about thirty years.” This is the dream job for me. I get to hang out and be around some of the greatest people. I get to mix music, travel around the world, and I get paid for it.
One of the things I am proudest of, even though I haven’t won a Grammy yet, has been having songs placed with different artists.
Also, I used to be chief engineer for the Sammy Davis Junior Foundation. I’ve got an award from the Stevie Wonder foundation for mixing him during an event honoring Smokey Robinson as well.