Kenna Zemedkun is a critically acclaimed musician and producer who’s collaborated with the likes of Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake. He’s also a pathbreaking social entrepreneur who, as of now, is the world’s first one-for-one artist. Kenna has a new album coming out, Songs for Flight, and embedded into the production of the album is a novel profit sharing scheme in which NGOs and non-profits benefit directly from sales.
Kenna has had a fascinating life and career. He was born in Ethiopia in the mid 1970s, just as the country began to unravel. He eventually landed in Virginia Beach, where along with his high school friends Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, he began to make waves in the music industry and…far beyond. He featured prominently in Malcom Gladwell’s 2005 book Blink about the science of first impressions.
This is a really fun and interesting conversation. We discuss his family’s escape from Ethiopia and how that experience traces directly to the roots of his own commitment to social justice. And we talk music!