Who is Keni Burke then?
Well, - he's the bass player, songwriter and producer who in 1982 came up with the brilliant and now classic bass line that has more or less set the standard for today's groove orientated R&B. The bass intro to "Risin' To The Top" has been sampled by more than 50  soul and hip-hop artists over the years. [ Who Sampled It ]

The Five Stairsteps...
Born Kenneth M. Burke 1953 in Chicago, Keni began his career in music as a young teen with his family group The Five Stairsteps. Fred Cash of The Impressions took Keni and the guys to see Curtis Mayfield in 1966. Shortly they were signed to the Windy C Records imprint Curtis had with Buddah Records and their hit version of the Stan Vincent penned "O-o-h Child" became a signature song of the early 70's. Now just called The Stairsteps they signed with George Harrison's Dark Horse label in 1976 and released the album "2nd Resurrection". Billy Preston introduced them to The Beatles and subsequently helped them get the Dark Horse deal. [ The Five Stairsteps Story ]

Session work...
When the group disbanded, Keni cut a solo album for Dark Horse in 1977 and worked consistently as a session bass player. The list is pretty impressive and contains acts like Sly & The Family Stone, Bill Withers, The Four Tops, The Emotions, Stargard, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Narada Michael Walden, Ramsey Lewis, Linda Clifford, Diana Ross, Leroy Hutson, Terry Callier, Billy Preston and Gladys Knight among others....

New solo deal...
In 1981 he cut a new solo album deal with RCA and came back with a vengeance on a song called "Let Somebody Love You". The album "You're The Best" was acclaimed as one of the year's top soul albums - but no one could have predicted what was to come next. In 1982 Keni released "Changes". The album included "Risin' To The Top". A laid back jazzy track with a brilliant bass line that has been sampled by more than 50 soul and hip-hop artists over the years.

Songwriting & production...
Both of Keni's RCA albums also established a production style that several R&B acts turned to in the early to mid 80s. He produced and wrote songs for The Jones Girls - Keep It Comin' (PIR 1984), The O'Jays - When Will I See You Again (PIR 1983), The Whispers, Walter & Scotty (of the Whispers), The Whitehead Brothers, Peabo Bryson, Keith Sweat, The Drama Group, Perri and Mavis Staples among others...

The latest album...
Keni has probably put some of the money hopefully generated from the many samples of "Risin’ To The Top" into building a studio in the basement of his Atlanta home where he cut his 1998 album " Nothin’ But Love", specifically for the UK label Expansion Records. He first met the label's Ralph Tee at a Berwick Soul Weekender, and the album combines all the elements that have established Keni as such an outstanding artist. The songwriting, musicianship, vocals and productions are all here. A kind of Isley Brothers laid-back vocalizing over some more Isleys-ish laid-back tracks. Keni's son Osaze Burke makes his debut here as a guest vocalist on "I Need Your Love". The track also features Natina, a rap artist signed to Sony Music.

Let's hope there's more to come...

Keni Burke 2014