After 7 is Kevon Edmonds, Keith Mitchell and Jason Edmonds
2019 marks the 30th anniversary on records of vocal trio After 7 – a platinum-selling group that has made its mark singing everything a gentleman counts on conveying and everything a lady longs to hear... From the very beginning, their sound has been a seamless blend of creamy soul and crossover pop that has inspired countless encounters of love, lust, romance, yearning, heartbreak and reviviscence. With their richly persuasive love songs further illuminated by their spellbinding live presentation of smooth Swiss-precision choreography and stylish attire, After 7 has proudly carried the torch of legendary soul music groups such as The O’Jays, The Temptations and Blue Magic. As their current album, Timeless, so gamely proved - boasting a whopping five Top 10 Urban AC singles - After 7 possesses 360-degree third-eye vision: absorbing the essence and lessons from the greatest groups that came before them, embodying the pulse of what’s happening now, and advancing with uncanny anticipation of sounds yet to come. The group’s instant success and undeniable endurance are family affair reflections of an excellence equal parts hard-earned and all-natural birthright.
To close out 2018, After 7 is offering the world a poignant and profound holiday gift via a very special single, “The Loneliest Christmas,” a melancholy ballad produced Daryl Simmons (Silent Partner Productions) and written by Daryl Simmons, Mario Pugh, Raye Edwards and Kevon Edmonds is destined to be an instant classic that will resonate deep within the spirit of anyone finding their heart empty while the rest of the world is full of yuletide cheer. The evocative heart-tugger showcases the plaintive high tenor of Kevon Edmonds on a misty starlit night backed by blues brushed snare drum, airy strings and warm After 7 harmony. “The Loneliest Christmas” is the 2018 teaser for an entire album of more songs slated to bow for fall/winter 2019.
In 1988, original After 7 members Kevon Edmonds, Melvin Edmonds and Keith Mitchell – from Indianapolis, Indiana - were brought to Virgin Records sight unseen and on a silver platter by legendary hitmaking duo Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds (the latter being Kevon and Melvin’s younger brother). Kevon with his soaring high tenor, Melvin with his gravelly all true man grit, and Keith with his soothing mellifluous flow were a well-seasoned coup for the startup company. Over the course of a fitting 7 years and 3 albums – their Platinum-selling self-titled 1989 debut (featuring the groovin’ “Can’t Stop” and the gorgeous “Ready or Not”), the 1992 sophomore project Takin’ My Time (featuring “Kickin’ It” and a medley of the old school classics “Baby, I’m For Real / Natural High”) and 1995’s Reflections (featuring “‘Til You Do Me Right”), plus the 60’s throwback “Nights Like This” from the film soundtrack “The Five Heartbeats” and the dreamy Diane Warren-penned “Not Enough Hours In The Night” from the TV soundtrack “Beverly Hills 90210” set a benchmark of musical maturity, style and substance that earned them a coveted NAACP Image Award as well as Grammy and American Music Award nominations. They parlayed their success on records with a stage show that remains the epitome of polish, sharing stages with artists ranging from the immortal Whitney Houston to the untouchable MC Hammer, and more than holding their own among living legends Gladys Knight, The Whispers, Patti LaBelle and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly in between.
As both the sound of music and the tenor of the industry went through a series of changes, After 7 made a conscious decision to continue performing while resisting the temptation to record any music that might find them desperately attempting to “keep up with the times” by adapting to a diminished standard far beneath them.
After 7 made longtime fans’ dreams come true, testing the waters with the sexy independently released single “I Want You” – a cunning blend of the bass-driven pulse of Sade’s “Keep Looking” and the lyrical flow of Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” kicked from their gentlemen’s point of view and proving as persuasive as anything Bruno Mars was putting down. The song peaked at #6 on Billboard’s Urban AC chart. Once again revealing their uncanny instincts with masterful production and composition from the platinum pens of Babyface and Daryl Simmons, After 7 o.g.’s Kevon, Melvin and Keith officially welcomed new addition Jason Edmonds (Melvin’s son who’d already been singing with the group in concert) into the fold. This quartet carefully crafted a 10-song reunion CD, appropriately titled Timeless (eOne Music).
Timeless spun off an astonishing four more consecutive Top 10 Urban AC hits: “Let Me Know” (a quintessential piano-and-a-backbeat ballad), “Runnin’ Out” (signature After 7 sweetness with Kevon’s plaintive lead), “Too Late” (a modern pop gem penned by yet another family member: David Andrew Edmonds - and “If I” (a celestial rumination that recalls Luther Vandross at his most achingly vulnerable). Additionally, Jason made his presence felt on the futuristic “Everything” and “More Than Friends.” The soaring, sparkling “Loving You All My Life” showcased the unmistakable tag-team power of Kevon & Melvin on the mic together. A cover of Thom Bell & Linda Creed’s heart-melting “Betcha By Golly Wow” (one of two co-produced by Demonte Posey with Daryl Simmons) is Kevon’s salute the crystalline, clouds-scaling falsetto of The Stylistics’ Russell Thompkins, Jr. And the album comes to a rapturous close with the reverent prayer “Home” (penned and produced by Aaron Pettigrew and Karl Antoine).
Now with 2019 marking the 30th anniversary of their eponymous debut album, After 7 comes to a crossroads as Melvin officially retires while both Keith and Jason step up to handle more upfront duties with star lead singer Kevon.
Jason comes to After 7 fresh from a songwriting team that composed several selections for acts such as Boyz II Men, 3LW, Dream, Tank, Tyrese, JoJo, Ruben Studdard, Omarion and Marques Houston. His biggest song placement: “Try it On My Own” for Whitney Houston. After singing background for Kevon on his solo tours, Jason was invited to sing in his father Melvin’s place on stage when the elder retired from the road to guard his health. Bringing a voice that he describes as a combination of all he inherited from his father, Kevon and Babyface, Jason offers a youthful new twist to After 7.
“Artists only become timeless when they own something that the public identifies as authentic and that no one else can do,” Jason insightfully shares. “No one can do what Kevon and my father have done vocally as individuals, and no group has done what After 7 has done collectively as a group. Pair us with great songwriters like Kenny Edmonds & Daryl Simmons and we cannot lose. It’s magic!
Keith adds, “We are blessed to have lived in an era when Black Music evolved to a sacred space where we could put our stamp on it for a new generation. Kids today don’t understand the difference between performing and entertaining. You captivate an audience by what they see, hear and, most importantly, feel. We look forward to carrying this tradition forth well into the future.”
Kevon concludes, “This ride has been a beautiful unexpected journey. 30 years is a milestone. I believe God has his hand on us. Going into this next record, I want us to exercise the opportunity to grow… to open up, have some fun and not be held tightly to what some people feel After 7 ought to be. Once Kenny finishes his new album, we’re going to go into the vault and pull out a few gems, of course, but we have a different vocal dynamic now with Jason and Keith stepping up. This is going to give us a little wiggle room to explore and create something more collaborative in nature – tasteful, timely and built upon the foundation of all that After 7 has come to stand for with pride.”
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