As a child, Kennis moved from Grand Rapids, MI to the South Side of Chicago. Kennis lived in the Harold Icke homes at 22nd and State street. Kennis got interested in music at an early age via his father, who sang with Sam Cooke and with the Wings of Faith gospel group.
The Early Years
Soon after moving to the south side, Kennis formed the Flairs, with his brother Loren Jones and three other members. With little experience the group did an initial performance at Chicago's Regal Theater weekly talent show and were unsuccessful; the group then practiced daily for an entire year before performing again, perfecting their harmony and choreography. The Flairs became local favorites, playing clubs and winning talent shows. The group soon found a backing band, the Statistics, who lived at Wentworth Gardens, the projects just south at 35th and State. The group also found a manager, Darnell Glover, also from Wentworth Gardens; Glover recorded the group on his Southtown record label. "I Want You" / "All I Need" was the group's first single; the record had an excellent late-60s Chicago sound and received some local airplay.
| I Want You [audio:http://www.kennisjones.com/kennisjones/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/02-I-Want-You.mp3|titles=I Want You]
|| All I Need[audio:http://www.kennisjones.com/kennisjones/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/01-All-I-Need.mp3|titles=All I Need]
About a year later Kennis was discovered by James Shelton (owner of the Daran record label) while playing piano in the lobby of Shelton's hotel. Shelton had Kennis write music to some tracks that were initially intended to be recorded by the Chi-lites (who had recently left Shelton's labels to go to Brunswick records). The Flairs, under a new group lineup, recorded the tracks and Shelton released the group's second single — "Where You Live" / "You Got To Steal It" — on his Rap record label. The single also had a great Chicago sound and received some local airplay.
The group continued to do local shows and Kennis began to focus on songwriting. Kennis hooked up with producer Jim Porter, who initially wanted Kennis to work with his group the Eight Minutes. Kennis wrote the track "Next Time She'll Be Good", which was released by the Eight Minutes on the Perception record label. Kennis also auditioned the Flairs for Porter, who ended up recording a new lineup of the group; the group changed their name to Velvet in order to make a fresh start. "Give It Up" was released in 1972, locally on the Lovelite label and then nationally on Perception. "Give It Up" had a more modern, Stylistics-inspired early-70s Chicago sound, and became the group's biggest hit (going all the way up to number 8 on WVON's charts). Kennis began to focus more on songwriting, working at Brunswick records writing tracks that were recorded but never released, by several Brunswick artists. Porter released a second single — "Betcha If You Ask Around" — as by Velvet, but the group was actually totally different and did not include Kennis at all.
Songwriter for Smokey Robinson
In the mid-70s Kennis decided to go to California to pursue his music career. After initially spending time with members of Earth Wind and Fire, Kennis eventually got an interview with Smokey Robinson. Smokey immediately signed Kennis as a personal songwriter. Kennis wrote many songs for Smokey, a couple of which were released, including the excellent cut "If We're Gonna Act Like Lovers" from the Big Time movie soundtrack. Kennis also wrote another tune for Smokey Robinson "I'm Loving You Softly" for his Love Breeze album.
Songwriter – Kennis Jones
|Smokey Robinson/Kennis Jones
#1. Loving You Softly
#2. If We're Gonna Act Like Lovers
#3. Love Is
#4. Who Cares About Love
#5. Your My Love Connection*
#6. Serenade My Life*
#7. Not To Go Away
#8. Promises And Lies
#9. If You Want My Love
#10.I Want To Be Turned On By You
#11. Love Me Now
#12. I Want You To Be My Love
| The first two were published in (Smokey Robinson) and (Berry Gordy's) Publishing company ( Bertam) and (Jobete)All songs Words and Music by Kennis Jones except for; * (Your My Love Connection)
Words; Kennis Jones and Rozella Jones (Smokey's Sister)
Music Kennis Jones
* (Serenade My Life) Words;Kennis Jones and Billy Parker(RIP 9/5/1947- 4/10/2007) All songs were submitted to ASCAP through Smokey’s publishing company. Music Kennis Jones
Songs #3 to #12 were released from Smokey’s publishing company and ASCAP back to Kennis Jones, and are now available from the Kennis Jones publishing company.
The Beginnings of SoftSoul
|In the early 80s, Kennis left Smokey to pursue a solo career. Kennis cut the excellent track "Mr. Postman" which he released as a 12" on his own SoftSoul record label in 1986.||
Mr Postman[audio:http://www.kennisjones.com/kennisjones/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Mr-Postman.mp3|titles=Mr Postman Fall]