b. Kenneth M. Burke, 28th September 1953, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Born in Chicago, Keni Burke began his career in the 1960's with brothers James, Clarence, Dennis and sister Alohe in his family group the Stairsteps.
Keni was the bass player and when they split up in 1971 he moved to Los Angeles in search of session work.
George met Keni at a time The Stairsteps were discussing a reunion album, and signed the group to his Dark Horse label.
In 1977, the group split up again, but, determined to succeed as a solo artist, Keni recorded a self-titled solo album for Dark Horse Records.
The album 'Keni Burke' (1977), including 'Keep On Singing' and 'You Are All Mine', wasn't a great success so Keni returned to session work with his bass guitar.
He played with Smokey Robinson, Sly and The Family Stone ('On The Right Track', 1979), Terry Callier, Linda Clifford ('Runaway Love', 1978), Dusty Springfield, Diana Ross, Ramsey Lewis ('Routes', 1980), Gladys Knight, The Four Tops, Curtis Mayfleld, Eugene Record, The Emotions and Bill Withers among many more.
He later recorded two albums for RCA, 'You're The Best' (1981), including 'Let Somebody Love You', 'Gotta Find A Way Back In Your Heart', 'Paintings Of Love' and 'Never Stop Loving Me'; and 'Changes' (1982), including 'Hang Tight' and 'One Minute More'.
The latter also included 'Risin' To The Top' which has become a cult song on the U.K. soul scene, although it has never charted (though twice released as a single).
The song has been used as a sample on numerous rap records, while the bass line could well have been the influence for The Mary Jane Girls hit 'All Night Long'.
As a songwriter / producer he has worked with The Jones Girls (1984's 'Keep It Comin' including 'You Can't Have My Love' and 'Ah Ah Ah Ah'), The O'Jays ('Put Our Heads Together'), The Whitehead Brothers, Mavis Staples ('Chocolate City'), The Whispers (co-writing 'Let's Go All The Way'), Perri (co-writing 'I'm The One', also playing bass on 'The Flight'), and Bill Withers, he also worked with Polygram group The Drama Club in 1990.
After many years tracking down Keni Burke, U.K. Record Label owner, Ralph Tee persuaded Keni back into the recording studio with the resulting album 'Nothing But Love'.
The album was missed by many of the critics although the tune 'Indigenous Love' seems to be destined for 'rare groove' status in years to come.
live at the jazz cafe in london - october 2010
In 2003, Keni worked with the singer Kalvin Bishop and sang on a single for Acid Jazz Records entitled '(Love Is) Alive In My Heart'.
Keni Burke (Dark Horse Records 1977)
You're The Best (RCA Records 1981)
Changes (RCA Records 1982)
Nothing But Love (Expansion Records 1998)