The final farewell rites for Bahamas-born singer Johnny Kemp will be held May 11 at St. Phillips Church 204 W 134th St. (between Frederick Douglass Blvd. & Adam Clayton Powell).
The 1 o’clock memorial ceremony will afford his beloved friends and fans to pay tribute to the incredible contribution the Bahamian immigrant made to the music industry.
News of Kemp’s sudden death came on April 17, a day after his alleged accidental death..
Jamaican authorities issued a statement saying while vacationing in Montego Bay, the singer died.
According to a statement from the Corporate Communications Unit — the information division of the police department there — Kemp’s body was found face down on a beach.
They also said Kemp might have hit his head on rocks during a fall.
It was no ordinary Friday in April.
Not in the Bahamas, Jamaica or around the entertainment circuit here when news of rhythm and blues singer Johnny Kemp buzzed about the circuit.
At first, reports were that the 55-year-old singer best known for the 1988 hit record “Just Got Paid” died after falling while on a Tom Joyner Morning Show cruise through the Caribbean.
However, soon after a flurry of queries surfaced, Reach Media, the company responsible for the Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage issued a statement saying: “We have received confirmation that Johnny Kemp has passed away. We do not have any other details. We can confirm he was not on the ship for the Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage Cruise.”
Born Aug. 2, 1959 in the Bahamas, Kemp started singing at an early age, and by the time he was a teenager had bookings in local clubs. Reportedly, he moved to Harlem in 1979 with the band “Kinky Fox.”
A decade later, he was signed to a solo record deal with Columbia Records. His self-titled debut album was released in 1986.
Kemp’s claim to fame arrived with the track “Just Another Lover.”
But his meteoric rise followed with the release of the club-popular, party track “Just Got Paid.”
Club patrons regarded the tune as a cause célèbre to the weekend by parodying the lyrics “Just got paid…Friday night… Party huntin’, feelin’ right…Body shakin’, all around (Body shakin’ all around) No one thinks when I’m gettin’ down…Check the mirror, we’re lookin’ fly…round up the posse, jump in my ride…”
To end the up-tempo hit song, Kemp sang “Thanks, Aaron, Teddy, you guys be cool!”
“Ha! Ha!” “That’s it!”
The shout-out to members Aaron Hall and Teddy Riley, saluted innovators of the New Jack Swing fusion genre and the popular group named Guy they collaborated.
His mention in music referenced the pair of red-hot producers of the genre and ironically secured a friendship that lasted until his untimely passing.
Allegedly, Riley was also in Jamaica at the time Kemp died and speculations were that together they were expected to join the Joyner cruise in Jamaica.
Of his collaborator’s passing the singer/producer said “It is with great sadness to hear the loss of our friend and one great recording artist. We are mourning and speechless of this news. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”
The party anthem is/was a guaranteed magnet to dancers and three decades later Kemp was booked to perform with Taana Gardner on June 18 during the Summerstage Concert Series.
Kemp is survived by his wife Deidre and his two sons.