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|Birth name||Kenneth M. Burke|
September 28, 1953|
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Genres||R&B, soul, funk|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, record producer, pianist, keyboardist, bass guitarist|
|Instruments||Singing, guitar, piano/keyboards, bass, synthesizer|
|Labels||Buddah, Dark Horse, RCA, Expansion Records|
|Associated acts||Five Stairsteps|
Kenneth M. "Keni" Burke (born September 28, 1953) is an American R&B, soul, funk and jazz singer, songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist who began his career with four of his siblings in the 1970s soul outfit, the Five Stairsteps.
As a member of the Five Stairsteps, Burke wrote the group's first minor hit "You Waited Too Long" in 1966, but the group would see their biggest success with the million-selling song "O-o-h Child" in 1970. The group went on to sign with George Harrison's Dark Horse Records in 1975, and had their next hit with the Burke-penned "From Us to You", from their 1976 album 2nd Resurrection. The group reemerged for two albums as the Invisible Man's Band but disbanded soon after.
Skilled as a guitarist and bassist, Burke continued to work for the Dark Horse label as a session musician, while burgeoning a solo career of his own. In 1977, he released his self-titled debut album, which featured the songs "Keep on Singing", "Give All You Can Give", and "From Me to You".
During this period he contributed instrumentation to songs by a diverse range of artists such as Sly & the Family Stone, Natalie Cole, Billy Preston, Terry Callier, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Dusty Springfield, Diana Ross, and Gladys Knight.
In 1981, Burke released his self-produced follow-up solo album, You're the Best, but it was his third album, Changes, which appeared the following year, that made a more significant impact, becoming his best-selling album to date. This album included the singles "Hang Tight" and his signature hit "Risin' to the Top," a big success in Chicago. The latter song has become a popular sampling choice for hip hop artists, having been borrowed by artists such as Doug E Fresh ("Keep Risin To The Top"), Big Daddy Kane ("Smooth Operator"), LL Cool J ("Around the Way Girl"), Pete Rock & CL Smooth ("Take You There"), Mary J. Blige ("Love No Limit"), O.C. ("Born 2 Live"), Sean Price ("Sabado Gigante") and once again by LL Cool J for the song "Paradise", with Amerie, though a lot of these songs have been mistakenly thought to use the bass line from the 1983 song "All Night Long" by the Mary Jane Girls. In 2006, "Rising to The Top" appeared in the soundtrack for the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, on fictional Quiet Storm station Vice City For Lovers.
Throughout the '80s and into the '90s, Burke continued his session and production work for artists such as Peabo Bryson, The O'Jays, The Jones Girls and Keith Sweat, and in 1998 released his last album to date Nothin' but Love, containing the hit "Indigenous Love", which was popular in the United Kingdom via the Expansion Records Label.
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