Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Rob Kevlin, who discusses his new album, “It’s a New Day,” as well as his upcoming show at Feinstein’s/54.
About Rob Kevlin:
The Brooklyn born, New Jersey raised singer has brought those magical qualities to Iguana and Davidzon Radio and is an International Trophy Winner of the USA World Showcase. He has graced the concert stage numerous times with virtuoso pianist Leonid Ptashka and renowned violinist, Sanya Kroitor. Kevlin was also honored to perform with Russian legend, Aida Vedisheva, for her Hurricane Sandy Fundraising Gala, “Come On, Support, New York, New York,” from the Writers Guild Theatre in California hosted by Rachel Reenstra from ABC television. He was presented with the Singing Liberty Award for his dedication and generous support of the victims of the Superstorm SANDY on its first anniversary. In addition, he has performed as a vocalist with Igor Butman’s big band and performed with the Rob Stoneback Big Band in a show called “Swing Out America!” as part of the HOT SUMMER NIGHTS free outdoor concert series at the Brooklyn based Stage at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY.
Review Fix: What makes you different?
Rob Kevlin: As a person, I really care and consider what my supporters have to say. For example, there was a song that meant a lot to a listener on my most recent album and he even made a fan dedication video. Originally, I wasn’t planning on including this in my next concert. But then I made some changes to my set list and removed another tune so I could include this , because it’s still a song that means a lot to me but more importantly to someone else.
I also feel that every artist has their own unique strengths. For me, people have told me over the years that it’s the timbre of my voice paired with my image, song selection, and stage presence which have compelled them. As an artist, you are essentially your own product and I’m fortunate to put out material that is genuine to what I believe and wholeheartedly represents me. I feel that my supporters have picked up on that and that’s enabled me to move forward.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Kevlin: Well when I was a child, I didn’t know that I had a talent necessarily but I admired people that did. I watched “Star Search” and was blown away by the caliber of those amazing singers and entertainers. I had my own kiddy microphone set and would pretend that I was on that show. Some years later, my parents even built a makeshift stage in our new home where I would entertain friends and family during parties. Then when I was in middle school, high school, and college, I entered the various talent competitions and musicals. It wasn’t until after college, that my musical submission to a New York radio station caught the attention of a couple of producers who helped stage my own cabaret theatre show at the Triad. Around the same time, I also won the “USA World Showcase,” an international talent competition which was broadcast on the PAX/ION television and took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I started to pick up momentum and decided to keep going!
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Kevlin: To me, it’s all about being true to who you are and what you believe in first and then creativity usually spawns from there. It’s also having the right team around you that you believe in and connect with. With my album, “It’s A New Day” for example, I had songwriters from all over the world submit their material and in some cases, the song worked automatically whereas sometimes, I saw the potential for a song, but didn’t quite connect with the lyrics, so the song wasn’t complete until I felt that I could put my own stamp on it. I also had a producer that was terrific and helped to create tracks that had substance and formulate a distinctive sound. That’s wasn’t the case initially as I had recorded the album elsewhere but I knew that I wanted to only release a product that I could stand by so some changes had to be made , but the time and investment made were definitely worth it.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Kevlin: People like my parents who immigrated to this country without knowing the language and became successful enough to make it in this country and encouraged myself and my sisters to pursue our dreams.
From an artistic standpoint, I admire an artist like Josh Groban, who came on the scene at a time when the music was more solely pop oriented yet he had this beautiful voice and disposition about him and he created his own path in a way. This helped me want to pursue a similar kind of direction and gave me an example of what a successful artist can become.
Review Fix: What makes “It’s a New Day” a special album?
Kevlin: I feel that it’s a body of work that is the culmination of years of singing and listening to music coupled with my life experiences which has already and will continue to make this one of the most precious souvenirs of my life. The songs are for the most part inspirational and love ballads. I didn’t expect to receive hundreds of song submissions but I wanted to be patient and only record that which I knew I would connect with and would want to sing for years to come. So the material is very special to me and it’s also everything from the production to the art design that makes this album something that I am very proud of.
Review Fix: What’s the standout track?
Kevlin: Well to the listeners, “Just Because You Walk Away” seems to be very popular. It’s a beautiful song and was actually originally recorded by a Russian pop singer several years ago which ended up being a top hit in the Russian language . The songwriter wanted to breathe new life into the song and wanted it released in America so he contacted me. I recorded most of it in English with a verse and chorus in Spanish.
For me, “Tossing and Turning” is the most significant as it was the first song written specifically for me by a songwriting team from Australia and Switzerland. It’s not like most of the others in terms of its theme, but it’s about a time in my life when I felt lost and didn’t know which direction to go in. I am at a much better place in my life now with my path, but when I listen to that song now, I can think back to my struggles and be proud of how much I’ve grown. It’s not a song that necessarily ends with your traditional happy ending, but I feel it’s also more real to me in a way because at that time, I didn’t have all of the answers and I think the song stays true to that motif.
Review Fix: What makes this upcoming show a special one?
Kevlin: I am super excited to be having my CD release party at Feinstein’s/54 Below. It’s on Friday, February 22nd 2019 at 9:30pm and this is Broadway’s supper club, and one of the most prestigious clubs in the city not to mention the country. I’ll have compelling material that I’ll be performing which will feature originals from my album, classic jazz standards, and broadway hits. I’m having world class musicians with me on stage, some of whom have been Grammy nominated with backing vocalists who have worked with some of the best artists in NY and are top pros in the biz. This will definitely be a very special evening for me and for all of the people that have supported me over the years. I would also like to welcome anyone that has checked out my work online but hasn’t had a chance to see me “live”. I’ll make your trip to see me in the city worth it! And on top of that, you’ll get the delicious fine cuisine which Feinstein’s/54 Below offers during the show!
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Kevlin: I have been told that I sound similar to a Josh Groban meets Michael Buble vibe. While I would agree to that to some extent, part of my artistry is presenting my own unique sound and body of work. I think that both Josh and Michael are outstanding artists both of whom have inspired me, but I feel that my sound is special in its own way and hopefully someone who has never heard me would feel the same way!
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Kevlin: My studio work mainly showcases my voice and songs. It’s polished and represents me in top vocal form whereas my live shows consist of all of those nuances which you need to be there to experience for yourself. Certain elements such as stage presence and choreography are not able to be encapsulated on an album. Also when I am in a studio, I have my producer guiding me with my sound and choices. On stage, I am making all of the shots and I tend to make musical choices based on what I am feeling at that moment and the energy which I am feeling from the audience which I think makes every live performance special in its own way. I also like to speak to my audience during the show and connect with them that way. Ultimately, both studio work and live performances are substantial in their own way.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2019?
Kevlin: To have a great concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below and to perform my material in reputable venues in the metropolitan area and beyond. Also, I would love to perform on Broadway if given the opportunity and to delve into others areas of the entertainment industry such as voice over work and even television. I don’t know that all of these things can be accomplished in 2019 but at least I can dream about it in the meantime and explore these potential opportunities after my show in February.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Kevlin: I’ll be performing my material at the legendary Friars Club on Wednesday, March 20th 2019 from 6pm-7pm for an evening of jazz and cocktails at the renowned Milton Berle Room. Closer to the date, I’ll be posting more information on social media and on my website.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?