From his teenage years as a member of the 70's seminal funk band B.T. Express, through his award-winning albums as a solo artist and his hit-making productions with such major artists as Whitney Houston, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Kenny G., Evelyn "Champagne" King, Melba Moore, Me'lisa Morgan, and Dionne Warwick, Kashif has always been an innovator, a multi-talented individual, whose cutting edge approach has placed him in the upper echelons of contemporary R&B, Pop, and Jazz music.
Never knowing his real parents, Kashif (whose name means "inventor, discoverer and magic maker") grew up in eight foster homes. Learning to play a $3.00 song flute at the age of seven provided him with what turned out to be an important common denominator in an unstable environment. Music became the vehicle by which Kashif was able to raise himself out of what could have been a very troubling environment. By the time he joined B.T. Express at the age of 15, Kashif was already an accomplished musician.
Kashif's first experience with synthesized instruments came during his years with B.T. Express, whose credits included early funk/dance hits like "Express" and "Do It Til You're Satisfied". Kashif began playing synthesizer bass using the Mini-Moog while on the road with the group, who toured the globe responding to the constant demand for their high-powered live performances. After leaving the group, Kashif began working on his first artist demos. The name of the group was "Stepping Stone". Those demos led to his initial work as a producer, and his recording contract with Arista Records. Because of his burgeoning mastery with synthesizers, Kashif was invited to tour with hit maker Stephanie Mills at a time when contemporary R&B acts were just beginning to use electronic instruments for live work.
Kashif's innovative musical approach was in full evidence on his very first production, "I'm In Love", recorded by Evelyn "Champagne" King in 1981. The record was described by key music industry leaders as ground breaking, in that Kashif did all the arranging, playing and was virtually the entire band for the record using synthesizers. The style and bass sound on the session was different from anything being done at the time. In many ways the record virtually changed the sound of music and the approach to record production.
Further hits followed with King, and then with such artists as Melba Moore and Howard Johnson. In fact, it was Kashif's production on Johnson's 1982 hit "So Fine" that reflected the experimentation that Kashif had begun with the Synclavier. Kashif invented uses for sampling, for example replacing drum sounds, lead and background vocal placements and even dialog editing. "So Fine" was the first record on which he used the technique of "flying" vocals, whereby a vocal passage could be duplicated through the Synclavier. This created a whole new approach to production with vocalists that is used extensively today.
During the same early 1980's period, while signed as a solo artist with Arista Records, Kashif began using new software and hardware developed by New England Digital for the Synclavier to create unique blends of synthesized and live music. With hit records like "I Just Got To Have You (Lover Turn Me On)", "Stone Love", "Help Yourself To My Love" and the Grammy-nominated instrumental "The Mood", Kashif began creating a solid reputation among record buyers for his distinctive musical sound.
His popularity as a recording artist and producer continued unabated. His second album, "Send Me Your Love" resulted in two Grammy nominations ("Edgartown Groove", featuring Al Jarreau, and "Call Me Tonight"), while his 1985 release "Condition of the Heart" also yielded another Grammy nomination with "The Movie Song." Kashif toured consistently throughout the mid-Eighties, taking full advantage of his mastery with synthesizers to re-create faithfully on stage the sounds he had created in the studio.
Kashif's work with other artists also resulted in further successes. He produced George Benson and Kenny G., and teamed up with then-newcomer Whitney Houston. The result was Whitney's first cross-the-board smash "You Give Good Love", which he also co-wrote, and "Thinking About You", a single track from Whitney's astounding 17-million selling debut-album. Kashif also worked with Whitney Houston on her second, 15-million selling album. He produced and was the legendary Dionne Warwick's duet partner on the hit "Reservations For Two". He also enjoyed a major hit of his own with "Love Changes", a duet with Mel'isa Morgan taken from his best-selling album of the same name, following it with "Kashif", another well-received LP. Kashif has also amassed gold and platinum albums for his work with Evelyn King, George Benson and Kenny G.
In Early 1994, Kashif decided to explore yet another avenue of self-expression: formal teaching at the university level. With an invitation from the famed UCLA Extension program, Kashif created a course called "Contemporary Record Production With Kashif". It immediately won the attention of the UCLA staff as being the most innovative instructional course on record production to ever hit their Extension classrooms. In August 1995 Kashif realized yet another career milestone. He wrote and released the now highly acclaimed book Everything You'd Better Know About The Record Industry. Published by Brooklyn Boy Books, Kashif's book publishing company, it has met with wide acceptance and critical acclaim for being the first book to be written about the music industry by an artist.
Kashif is unquestionably one of today's most influential musicians and producers. He is a creative innovator who has utilized modern technology and fused it with his own innate musical talent, and a gifted artist who continually demonstrates his desire to experiment and be on the leading edge of the evolution of contemporary popular music.
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.