Luther Vandross, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin … and Washington College’s own Kentavius Jones?
All are talented musicians who’ve worked with acclaimed producer Rex Rideout and engineer Ray Bardini.
Kentavius, a singer-songwriter from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, signed with Wyman Records, an independent label in Burbank, California, where he’s recording an album of original songs.
“I take much pride and care in the crafting of my songs. Each chord and every single word are composed and coupled with sincere attention to detail and quality,” Kentavius says.
A political science major and varsity lacrosse player at the College, Kentavius is a relative newcomer to the music industry.
“It’s funny, I didn’t start singing or playing any instrument until I was 18, in my senior year of high school, when I joined choir because my lacrosse buddies were in it,” he remembers.
It wasn’t long before he picked up a guitar and began writing his own music.
“I probably started writing my own stuff within the first year,” Kentavius recalls. “A lot of the musical content came through listening and playing with other guys, but it was all me as far as the lyrics. I’m fortunate that for not having any training in writing songs, I’ve become pretty good at it.”
Kentavius honed his musical skills at Washington College, where he started his first rock band. “Hot Rock and the Heat Strokes” played on campus and at local watering holes O’Connor’s and Andy’s. KJ also joined the vocal consort under the direction of Garry Clarke.
“I’ve listened to music my whole life, but my roots in organized music come from the classical direction of Garry Clarke and [guitar instructor] Tom Anthony, working on my instruments—my voice and my guitar,” he says. “Tom Anthony really set me up, teaching the basics and giving me some more advanced classical training.”
Kentavius is working to translate those skills into a major recording or publishing contract. He records in L.A., but he regularly plays shows at Crash Mansion in New York and at the Rams Head clubs in Baltimore and Annapolis.
“To support the upcoming album there will be a huge push for radio play and media exposure. Hopefully, my project will catch the ears and eyes of the larger music labels,” he said. One of the toughest parts of the process includes landing one-on-one meetings and listening parties with major label executives or performing live in showcases for the labels.
“It’s a tough industry to crack,” he continues. “It’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not going to be something anyone gives me. You have to really put yourself into it, but I’ve always loved being able to improve and come up with new ideas.”