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KASHIF LIVE AT THE JAZZ CAFE, LONDON - JANUARY 6, 2016
All photos © Gary Thomas Kypa, 2016

Making – incredibly, given his illustrious tenure in the music industry – his first ever appearance live before a UK audience, award-winning producer/songwriter/musician and hitmaker in his own right Kashif (inducted into the songwriting category of The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame in December) gave a packed house a whistle-stop overview of the highlights of a career that began when he joined the pioneering funk/groove band B.T. Express in the mid-‘70s.
With a more than capable band assembled by Billy Oz, Kashif peppered a dynamic and energy-filled show with hits from his years with Arista Records including “I Just Gotta Have You (Lover Turn Me On),” “Help Yourself To My Love” (a definite crowd-pleaser) and the great smooth groove “Say Something Love,” all from his 1983 self-titled album).

Watching the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd took me back to when Kashif and I met (after our first interview during his B.T. Express) in the late ‘70s when he had formed his own band, Stepping Stone. We were both at an Al Stewart show and Arista founder Clive Davis was sitting a few seats away prompting Kashif to boldly go and introduce himself to the legendary executive. It would be a few years before Davis would actually sign Kashif and in the time in between, I was able to facilitate an introduction for Kashif to the late John Simmons, the then-musical director for Stephanie Mills which led to a road gig as a keyboardist.

It was in the ensuing years – the early ‘80s - that Kashif established himself as a premier songwriter and during the Jazz Café show (presented by Soulgigs), he offered some of those timeless classics including “I’m In Love” and “Love Come Down,” both hits for Evelyn Champagne King, with strong vocal support via singer Hazel Fernandez (from the duo, The Affair) and of course, one of the crowning glories of Kashif’s career, “You Give Good Love,” the very first hit for the late and legendary Whitney Houston, which Kashif produced. He relayed a great story about how Arista chief Clive Davis kept insisting that Kashif work with the then-budding singer – and how he finally saw her perform leading to a studio union, jumpstarting Whitney’s phenomenal career.

After his rendition of “Inside Love,” the 1985 hit he produced on George Benson – along with a vivid story of his session with the iconic music man – Kashif took us all back to his B.T. Express days with another amusing story recounting of how he joined the band and that group’s seminal hit, “Do It ‘Til You’re Satisfied,’ Kashif invited members of the audience onstage for a ‘Soul Train line’ dance – including famed actor Michael Williams (of ‘The Wire’ fame) who he’d met on his transatlantic flight to Britain.

Kashif completed the evening with a strong vocal performance along with Hazel Fernandez in the form of his1987 hit duet with Meli’sa Morgan, a cover of Mother’s Finest’s “Love Changes.” Certainly a memorable way to end a great evening music and fond memories and undoubtedly, the UK will now become a staple of Kashif’s touring schedule going forward.


About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.
  
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