182: Kenny DeShields (The Real Love Project)

Kenny DeShields on Innovation City

“The elephant had always been in the room and no one has talked about it, so I had to start talking to the elephant.” – Kenny DeShields

Welcome to Season 5 of Innovation City (The St. Louis Edition), a podcast featuring innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency and Aīre Ventures, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community.

Today’s guest is Kenny DeShields, a singer-songwriter from St. Louis who recently released his first full-length album, The Real Love Project. Grammy Award-winning artist, Courtney Orlando, produced DeShield’s new album, and his wife, Christia, co-wrote the songs. In this episode, Kenny DeShields sits down with the team to discuss his musical journey, the trauma he has overcome to get where he is today, and the faith that got him there.

They discuss:

  • What is your superpower?
    • Music has always been a part of Kenny’s life, and he always knew music was what he was supposed to be doing.
    • Born in Mississippi to a musical creative, music was introduced to Kenny early on in life.
    • He was introduced to all styles of music by his piano teacher at a young age.
  • How do you recommit to your purpose?
    • Kenny hears and sees music in everything.
    • He teaches his three boys through musical messages.
  • Why does the world need music?
    • Music is a universal language and a means of expression.
    • Every cell in our body is attuned to a frequency, so song is virtually everywhere.
  • The Ten Year Journey
    • Kenny released his first EP in 2008, and then he had a massive falling out with his friend who was producing his music.
    • His newest album, the Real Love Project, came to fruition at 2 AM one night when he heard a chorus in his head.
    • Kenny overcame a lot of trauma and personal issues, like self-hate, in the process of developing his recent album.
    • Kenny and his wife, Christia, wrote six songs on the new album, addressing topics like marriage and forgiveness.
  • Challenges of the Music Business
    • The music industry has changed tremendously during the pandemic, particularly with the end of seeing live shows in music venues.
    • People need to see live music in front of them, which must be navigated and reintroduced in new and exciting ways.
    • Kenny is exploring new ways to think about the music industry right now, such as writing songs for licensing purposes.
  • Lessons of Love and Faith
    • Kenny was molested as a kid and hid it for a long time. This caused him to have false beliefs that he would never become a father or get married.
    • He had to find a way to connect with people with whom he could be vulnerable and discuss these issues.
    • The African American community has traditionally looked down upon therapy, so they have suffered generational trauma. He had to face this.
    • Kenny was always a man of faith, but he finally knew God loved him when he attempted suicide, and God saved him.
  • Addressing Trauma
    • A friend of Kenny’s, Gregg Hand, showed him his pain, finally getting Kenny to share his childhood traumas.
    • Kenny has made his home a no-judgment zone where people have the space to share their feelings, trauma, or whatever they need to.

Lightning Round:

  • What do you want to let go of?
    • Comparison issues
  • What do you spend too much time doing?
    • Overthinking
  • What did you learn from your biggest regret?
    • “Even if you didn’t do it right, you can still be forgiven; you can still move forward.”