Singer Kem Celebrates 25+ Years Of Sobriety

Kem at a press event in a suitFor anyone that’s ever met Grammy-nominated R&B/soul musician Kem Owens, better known simply as Kem, it may not come as much of a surprise that he’s much more than just a gifted singer and songwriter. He’s someone who celebrates both his musical talent, and the spirituality that helped him overcome the darker times in his life, with his fans, and within his own heart. Thoughtful and introspective, he’s someone who understands that the only thing that is truly capable of maximizing, or limiting, greatness…is self.

Born in Nashville and raised in Detroit, Kem dealt with homelessness, addiction, and isolation from his family shortly after finishing high school, but overcame these issues through spirituality and music.

“My addiction brought me to my knees. So it was like, ‘Look, either you’re going to do this or you’re going to die out here in the streets,’” Kem recalled. “I could no longer continue living the way I was living, and I didn’t know how to stop. And it was at that point when we [as addicts] give up on our own plan and our own ideas on how to solve our dilemmas — as far as recovery is concerned — we have to get out of the way.”

“The principles of my recovery are principles that permeate through every area of my life,” he continued. “You hear it in the music, they run my business. So I’m not just clean and sober from drugs and alcohol, my recovery is the foundation for everything in my life right now.”

In addition to attributing God as his biggest inspiration to remaining sober, Kem said that surrounding himself with spiritually minded people and helping others overcome their personal obstacles with addiction are some of the ways he maintains sobriety.

Since his sobriety, Kem’s life has been like a soaring star. He wrote, produced, and financed his self-released debut album, Kemistry, and was later signed by Motown Records in November 2001, who re-released the album on February 25, 2003, selling more than 500,000 copies nationwide and going gold-plus. Kem followed his debut release with a second album, Album II, which includes the song “You Might Win” featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica, and a third album, Intimacy: Album III, which features Maurissa Rose and Jill Scott, and debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. recently sat down with Kem on the heels of his Intimacy Tour to talk about the key to being healthy and  life lessons he’s learned…so far.

BDO: Thanks for taking the time to talk! How’s the tour going?

Kem: It’s my pleasure! We’re wrapping up this week. It truly has been a great experience.

BDO: Since so many others deal with addiction as well, can you share how you overcame yours?

Kem: I came to a place where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said. “I gave up on trying to do things my way and started to listen to some people who had better ideas about what I should be doing than I did. I’ve had some difficult patches in my life, as we all do, and I think that when we are allowed to come through the other side of turmoil, we have an opportunity and a privilege to talk about it and let people know about it, so that they too can overcome.

BDO: Your life is very busy right now. How do you stay healthy while you’re on the road?

Kem: Well, as an entertainer, it’s a reality that I need to look a certain way on stage, and in general, it’s so important to just keep it together and maintain a certain quality of life, for the sake of yourself and for your kids. For the most part, I watch what I eat and do cardio every day. I have a trainer at home, so I can repeat certain routines when I’m can’t be at home. At this point in my life, I’ve learned that most of the challenge is just in showing up…just starting the process.

BDO: What are some of the health challenges you face as a successful celebrity?