North Preston’s own Keonté Beals is a multi-talented, multi-award-winning rising star who performs “passionate R&B with a personal message”. With his powerful voice, vivid songwriting, and thoughtful, current commentary, he’s built an enthusiastic audience across Atlantic Canada, and a reputation as a creative, ground-breaking artist for our times. Recently we spoke with Beals about is past, present and future.
When and why did you start playing music?
I started singing at the age of 6. I joined the junior choir at my local church around that age. Music was always a key element of my church. North Preston itself is a community filled with talented musicians and singers so the love for music was natural for me growing up.
Are they the same reasons you do it today?
That same love I had as a kid for performing, I have still. Probably even more so at this age now that I have expanded outside of just my community and have full creative control over what happens on my stage.
What are the challenges involved with the vocation?
For me personally, I would say the lack of funding. I have self funded all of my projects and businesses throughout my whole career until receiving one grant in 2021. My first one. Requirements & juries for the majority of these grant processes aren’t built for people who look like me or sound like me. The qualifications just don’t make sense for the markets that we have to break into.
What are the rewards?
Simply living each day with a purpose. Waking up and knowing that passion is what you lead with each and every day. It’s a blessing to make your dreams become reality. Very very grateful and appreciative to the people who support my efforts.
How have you evolved as an artist over time?
I feel like that came with just growing as a man in general. Being unapologetic about who I am and what I stand for. Being bold and confident about what the goal and objectives are when I walk into any space. Being confident about the gifts that I have been given and trusting in my abilities more so now than ever before both creatively and professionally.
What have been some career highlights?
Definitely opening my company KBeals Entertainment | kébe. That’s probably the biggest one for me. I was able to travel and perform throughout Canada and now starting with US dates - making that dream of creativity and performance come to life - but now it all came full circle with my company. All I wanted as a kid was to be like my grandmother. An entrepreneur - and to make some sort of difference or footprint in this world along the way. To leave a legacy. I believe I’m on the right path.
What went into the new recording?
A lot of love man. For myself. My people. My community and strong faith that things will get better. I produced my last album “KING” during the quarantine. It was the first time for me to fully produce a whole album. I’ve always had a hand in production of my materials but never like this. Every beat. Instrument. Sound. Complete control over the sound sonically. I got to tell my stories fully from my perspective. I haven’t released a project 3 years prior to dropping this album so it was like writing a diary or journal in musical form of those past 3 years. I mixed the tunes myself and I also did the album artwork. Now, I did all of this to prove to myself that I can. I won’t be doing all of that again though haha. No way - point proven haha. I do take pride in that now though just because I know that I work my ass off. It makes me appreciate the success even more because I know how hard I’ve worked for it. I’m grateful.
What has the response been like so far?
Definitely has taken my career to the next level. It has gone on to win some awards and be really well received for the story telling and vivid song writing. I appreciate all the love so much. Truly.
Is your creative process more "inspirational" or
I would say both at times. Definitely both.What makes a good song?
Hmm, definitely can be different depending on the genre of course. But in my opinion I would say the story telling. Telling a story and being able to take listeners on the journey. Make them live or relive that moment with you. That space. Songs are like planets and the writing is the listeners spaceship. The entryway to another planet. Make them feel it. Make them cry. Make them laugh. Make their body move. Whatever vibe the song is - make them feel it.
What makes a good live show?
Relatively the same as what makes a great song I would say. Telling the story. The flow of the songs. The energy. The connection to the crowd. And of course, the musicality and chemistry of everybody on stage. Authenticity.
What are your thoughts on the current state of Atlantic Canada's music scene?
It just needs to be more open and diverse. I see that we are moving into that direction - but I just hope that it’s the real deal and not a trend because diversity is “in.” Its ok for things to progress forward. Change is good.
How can that be improved?
Well, the thing about that is that these genres like Hip Hop, R&B, Soul, Jazz, etc are loved here they just aren’t given the exposure or the platform to blossom. I see it. When I’m on the road I see the love. People appreciate good music no matter what. And they appreciate all the genre’s I mentioned. It just starts with diversity being in the rooms. Jury’s, boards, etc. It will take time, but the effort has to be there.
What's on your agenda for 2022?
Many things that I definitely can’t mention right now haha. 2021 was big - 2022 will be bigger. I’m manifesting and working.