HAVE YOU HEARD?
Former LBW Ensemble, Issues member brings different sound to July Jamz stage
July Jamz will be a little bit like old home week tonight.
Kenny Heard, who grew up in Opp and learned a lot about music as a member of the LBW Ensemble, will play under his own billing before sitting in with his former band, Issues.
Born in California, Heard moved to Opp with his family in 1995, when he was 12.
“I had already been playing music,” he said. “My mom’s from Opp. Coming here was definitely different, but it was definitely safer. It had started getting crazy out there. Opp was a great place to raise a family.”
At 12, Heard thought of himself as a drummer.
“But my dad was a pastor, choir director and piano player,” he said. “Every church needed a keyboard player, so I just watched and figured it out myself.”
As an OHS student, he said, he watched band director Randy Hughey play different instruments.
“He would go around the bandroom and teach kids how to play different instruments,” Heard said. “That’s where I learned what a good musician was.”
He learned more about the technical side of music when he earned an ensemble scholarship to LBW Community College.
“It was hard to go back and learn to read music,” he said of his time at LBW. “Ms. Owens taught me chords and playing technique.”
In the ensemble, he also met Phillip McClung, with whom he became a part of Issues.
“Phillip asked me to play with them,” Heard recalled. “I learned a lot about classic rock and country. Before that, I only played R&B and gospel, because my parents were preachers.”
Now, Opelika is home for Heard. He has a studio there, and plays private events most of the school year through Crescent Moon Entertainment.
“I play mainly private functions,” he said. “Corporate events, functions at the university, and weddings. I’m happy to do July Jamz because I don’t do many public shows, and I haven’t done a public show in hometown as a solo act, ever.”
Because he has more time off in the summer, he has created a little promotional video for the event. He also has just recorded a new album, “Cute Little Everything,” which will be released next month. He will play at least two songs from the album here tonight, and anyone who signs up with email wil3l receive a free song, he said.
“My new album is me talking to my daughter,” he said. “I’ve been working on it for to and a half years. I wrote the first song the day she was born.”
Some of the songs are simple, and his daughter actually sings along. Others are deeper thoughts for parents, he said.
Heard’s wife, Stephanie Graham, also is a musician.
“I got everybody on the album,” he said, including his 11-year-old stepson and his daughter, Mona Marie.
Heard is the son of Annie Marie Heard of Opp and Nathaniel Heard Jr. of Tuscaloosa.
Peyton Prevett will open July Jamz at 6 tonight, followed by Heard and Issues. There also will be fireworks as the event ends at 9 p.m.