Keb' Mo'

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Keb' Mo'
Keb' Mo' Waterville Opera House 2014.jpg
Keb' Mo' performs in Waterville, Maine 2014
Background information
Birth name Kevin Roosevelt Moore
Born (1951-10-03) October 3, 1951 (age 63)
South Los Angeles, California, U.S.[1]
Origin Compton, California, U.S.
Genres Delta blues, country blues, blues americana
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, guitarist
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica, banjo, mandolin, bass, keyboards
Years active 1980–1982
Labels Chocolate City, Epic, Yolabelle International, Kind Of Blue Music

Keb' Mo' (born Kevin Moore, October 3, 1951) is a three-time American Grammy Award-winning blues musician. He is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, currently living in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife Robbie Brooks Moore. He has been described as "a living link to the seminal Delta blues that travelled up the Mississippi River and across the expanse of America".[2] His post-modern blues style is influenced by many eras and genres, including folk, rock, jazz and pop. The moniker "Keb Mo" was coined by his original drummer, Quentin Dennard, and picked up by his record label as a "street talk" abbreviation of his given name.


Early life[edit]

From early on, he had an appreciation for the blues and gospel music. By adolescence, he was already an accomplished guitarist.[3]


Keb' Mo' started his musical career playing the steel drums and upright bass in a calypso band. He moved on to play in a variety of blues and backup bands throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He first started recording in the early 1970s with Jefferson Airplane violinist Papa John Creach through an R&B group. Creach hired him when Moore was just twenty-one years old; Moore appeared on four of Creach's albums: Filthy!, Playing My Fiddle for You, I'm the Fiddle Man and Rock Father. Keb Mo's first gold record was received for a song, "Git Fiddler", which he co-wrote with Papa John on Jefferson Starship's Red Octopus.[4] Red Octopus hit number one on the Billboard 200 in 1975.[5]

Moore was also a staff writer for A&M Records, and arranged demos for Almo - Irving music. Keb' Mo's debut, Rainmaker, was released on Chocolate City Records, a subsidiary of Casablanca Records, in 1980. He was further immersed in the blues with his long stint in the Whodunit Band, headed by Bobby "Blue" Bland producer Monk Higgins. Moore jammed with Albert Collins and Big Joe Turner and emerged as an inheritor of a guarded tradition and as a genuine original.

In 1994, Keb' Mo' released his self-titled debut album, Keb' Mo', which featured two Robert Johnson covers, "Come On In My Kitchen" and "Kind Hearted Woman Blues".[6] In the Martin Scorsese miniseries The Blues, Keb' Mo' states that he was greatly influenced by Johnson. Keb was the runner-up for Best New Blues Artist at The Long Beach Blues Festival when he was spotted by Steve LaVere who owns the publishing for the entire Robert Johnson song catalogue (1992–93)

Keb Mo's self-titled album was released on Okeh Records a vintage revival division of Sony Music. In 1996, he released Just Like You, his second album, which featured twelve songs full of Delta rhythms. He won his first Grammy Award for this album, which featured guest appearances from Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.[7]

On June 10, 1997, Moore performed on the television program Sessions at West 54th. He joined musicians Laval Belle on drums, Reggie McBride playing bass, and Joellen Friedkin on keyboards to perform fourteen songs, some from each of his albums. Blues pianist Dr. John also made a guest appearance. This session (known as Sessions at West 54th: Recorded Live in New York) was shown on television, but was not released as a DVD until late 2000.

In 1998, Moore was involved in the multi artist project "Begegnungen (Encounter)" by Germany's Rock-Superstar Peter Maffay. They performed together a new version of Mo's "Am I wrong" on the album and some more songs in the 30 concerts at the arena tour later the same year, documented on the live album "Begenungen Live", released in early 1999. A further guest of Maffay at the Begegnungen album and tour was Sonny Landreth and many more artist from every continent.

Slow Down, his next album, was released in 1998 and featured twelve songs. It earned him a second Grammy Award. The album begins with the song "Muddy Water", a tribute to Muddy Waters. It also features a song entitled "Rainmaker", which had been released previously on his first album, eighteen years prior. The song was rerecorded, though there is little difference to the song itself with no lyrical changes at all.

His fourth album, The Door, was released in 2000. The same year, Keb' Mo' released Big Wide Grin, a children's album featuring many songs from Moore's own childhood, along with some newer children's songs and some by Moore himself. In 2001, he appeared on Sesame Street with Kermit the Frog, Grover, Elmo, and other muppets performing the song "Everybody be Yo'self". The album includes an original arrangement of "America the Beautiful," which he performed years later on the 2006 series finale of The West Wing, "Tomorrow," in which he appears as himself to perform the song at the inauguration of (fictional) President Matt Santos.

In 2003, Martin Scorsese collaborated with many blues musicians including Keb' Mo' to put together a series of films entitled The Blues. Following its release, several albums were released in accordance, some were compilations, some new collaborations, and Keb' Mo' released an album in the series featuring a handful of existing recordings from Keb' Mo' to The Door.

On February 10, 2004, he released Keep It Simple which earned him a third Grammy Award, again in the contemporary blues genre. Later that year he released his sixth studio album, Peace... Back by Popular Demand.

Moore released Suitcase, on June 13, 2006. His touring band following the release included Reggie McBride on bass, Les Falconer III on drums, Jeff Paris on keyboards, and Clayton Gibb on guitar.

On October 20, 2009, Keb' Mo' released the live album, Live & Mo' . Keb Mo has appeared on stage(1990-1993) in several versions of the Musical "Spunk" as Guitar Man, a play by Zora Neale Hurston a legendary African American playwright from the Harlem Renaissance. His character, learned while he was an understudy to "Chick Streetman" played all the actual music in the play while performing. The character of Guitarman is the foundation for his current stage persona.

On August 2, 2011, Keb' Mo' released The Reflection[8]

Film projects[edit]

In 1998, he portrayed Robert Johnson in a documentary film, Can't You Hear the Wind Howl?[9]

In 1997, Keb' Mo' portrayed the character Isaac, the Angel of Music, in the episode "Inherit the Wind" and again in 1999 in "Then Sings My Soul" of the television series Touched by an Angel. He performed "Hand It Over" from his 1996 release Just Like You in the 1997 episode and again in the 2002 episode "Remembering Me: Part 2". He also appeared as J. D. Winslow in the 2001 episode "Shallow Water", where he performed his song "God Trying to Get Your Attention" from his album Slow Down.

In January 2007, he performed at the Sundance Film Festival.[10]

He played the role of the mischievous spirit Possum in the 2007 John Sayles movie Honeydripper.

Keb' Mo' provided additional music for Mike and Molly.

Political activism[edit]

In 2004, he participated in the politically motivated Vote for Change tour alongside Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, with whom he originally recorded the title track from the album Just Like You.

Keb' Mo' is part of the No Nukes group which was against the expansion of nuclear power. In 2007, the group recorded a music video of a new version of the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth".[11][12]


Keb' Mo' uses several types of guitars, including electric guitars, acoustic guitars and resonator guitars. He has a preference for red guitars, as he says on his website: "I have a history with red guitars. My first electric was a red guitar." He mostly plays on a red custom Fender Stratocaster which has the particularity to feature two single-coil pickups, and one humbucker and was much modified from a regular Stratocaster model. On stage, he prefers a red Hamer guitar with Gibson P-100 pickups. Two of his electric guitars were lost in the 2010 Nashville flood: an Epiphone Sheraton and a Danelectro Selectomatic.[13]

He owns a variety of acoustic and resonator guitars, including a Gibson artist model, a guitar made for him by James Goodall, a National Style N, a National Resorocket, a Gibson ES-335-shaped resonator guitar with a P-90 pickup he bought in a Nashville club and got fixed.[14]



Released Album Notes
1980 Rainmaker Released under the name "Kevin Moore"
June 7, 1994 Keb' Mo' Debut album as "Keb' Mo'"

Won W.C. Handy Award for Best Country/Acoustic Blues Album of the Year, 1995

June 18, 1996 Just Like You Won Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album, 1997
August 25, 1998 Slow Down Won Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album, 1999
October 10, 2000 The Door Nominated Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album
December 4, 2000 Sessions at West 54th: Recorded Live in New York Recorded in 1997
June 5, 2001 Big Wide Grin Nominated Grammy Award for Best Children's Album
September 19, 2003 Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Keb' Mo' Part of the series, The Blues
February 10, 2004 Keep It Simple Won Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album, 2005
September 21, 2004 Peace... Back by Popular Demand
June 13, 2006 Suitcase Nominated Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album
October 20, 2009 Live and Mo' Six live performances and 4 new studio recordings
August 2, 2011 The Reflection Nominated Grammy Award for Best Blues Album, 2012
April 22, 2014 BLUESAmericana Nominated Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, 2014


  • Sessions at West 54th - Recorded Live in New York (1997)
  • Exploring The Guitar With Keb' Mo' (2000)
  • The Blues Guitar Of Keb' Mo'' (2002)
  • Keb' Mo' & Guests (2011)

Other contributions[edit]

In 1998, he appeared on the album "Begegnungen" (the German word for "Encounters") of Peter Maffay, one of the most successful Rockstars in Germany and Mid-Europe (16 Number 1 albums in the german Album Charts). This record is a duets album with artists from every continent. Moore and Maffay make a new version of "Am I wrong".

In 2001, Moore performed "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" on the tribute album Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute. Moore is also credited as a Producer on the Best Country Album, Grammy Award winner for 2001.[15]

In 2002, Moore contributed "Sonnet 35" to the compilation album, When Love Speaks (EMI Classics), which features famous actors and musicians interpreting Shakespearean sonnets and play excerpts. Two years later, he appeared on Amy Grant: Greatest Hits 1986-2004 in a duet entitled "Come Be with Me", which became a modest success on pop radio.

In 2005, he appeared on Buddy Guy's version of "Ain't No Sunshine", along with Moore composed one of the theme songs featured on the show, Martha Stewart Living. That same year, he appeared on Eric Clapton's album Back Home.

In 2006, he co-wrote the song, "I Hope", with the Dixie Chicks for their album, Taking the Long Way.

In 2006, Moore collaborated with New Orleans blues group The Subdudes, producing their most critically noteworthy album Behind the Levee, penning one cut Social Aid and Pleasure Club and providing backing tracks for several other songs on that album.

Moore also provided vocals to Marcus Miller's 2007 album, Free on the track entitled "Milky Way" and again on Miller's 2008 album entitled, Marcus.

In 2008, he also appeared on Otis Taylor's album "Recapturing the Banjo," contributing vocals and banjo on several songs.

Moore appeared on the June 7, 2008 broadcast of Garrison Keillor's radio program A Prairie Home Companion. He performed two songs with Bonnie Raitt: "No Getting Over You" and "There Ain't Nothin' in Ramblin'". The show was archived on the A Prairie Home Companion website.

Moore covered Lowen & Navarro's "If You Loved Me Like That" on Keep the Light Alive : Celebrating the Music of Lowen & Navarro. The proceeds of the album benefited The Eric Lowen Trust, ALS Association Greater Los Angeles, and Augie's Quest.

Moore sings the opening theme ("I See Love", written by Moore and Josh Kelley) to the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly.

Moore appeared and played as a backing musician on an episode of Memphis Beat in 2011.

Moore produced and co-wrote the song "Diggin' in the Deep Blue Sea" on the 2011 David Bromberg album Use Me. He also plays electric guitar on the track.

In 2013, Moore appears on B.J. Thomas, The Living Room Sessions, in a duet with Thomas on the single, "Most of All".[16][17]


  1. ^ Henkle, Doug, "FolkLib Index"
  2. ^ Biography on, (accessed December 16, 2014).
  3. ^ Keb' Mo' Biography on
  4. ^ William, Ruhlmann. "Jefferson Starship Red Octopus". AllMusic. 
  5. ^ "Jefferson Starship Red Octopus: Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Illustrated discography of various artists' early records". 
  7. ^ See Just Like You CD sleeve
  8. ^
  9. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 129–130. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  10. ^ Keb'Mo' Plays at Sundance 2007 » Propeller
  11. ^ ""For What It’s Worth," No Nukes Reunite After Thirty Years -". 
  12. ^ "Nuclear Information and Resource Service - NIRS". 
  13. ^ Electric guitars
  14. ^ Acoustic and resonator guitars
  15. ^ Johnson, Zac (2001). "Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  16. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2013). "The Living Room Sessions". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "BJ Thomas with Keb' Mo'- Most of All Official Music Video". TheBJThomas YouTube Channel. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 

External links[edit]