Share My Life: A Journey of Love, Faith and Redemption

Share My Life: A Journey of Love, Faith and Redemption

by Kem, David Ritz

Narrated by Kem, Keith David

Unabridged — 6 hours, 30 minutes

Share My Life: A Journey of Love, Faith and Redemption

Share My Life: A Journey of Love, Faith and Redemption

by Kem, David Ritz

Narrated by Kem, Keith David

Unabridged — 6 hours, 30 minutes

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Notes From Your Bookseller

Kem makes soul music and now shares his soul in this beautiful and compassionate autobiography. You will be inspired as he shares his personal testimony.

Grammy Award-nominated artist Kem shares his life in this “breathtaking” (Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author) and revealing memoir tracing his transformative journey from homelessness to gold-selling artist.

Known for his smooth, affecting crooning and dapper style, Kem's journey to the stage is nothing short of inspiring. In Share My Life, Kem goes back to the very beginning before his time to introduce his grandmother, who worked as a sharecropper in the South and had thirteen children. As Kem's family rises from the sharecropping and ultimately lands in Detroit, there is an unspoken mantra of “hard things are better left unsaid,” which has devastating consequences down the line. And so, Kem grows up in the midst of an impenetrable silence. His mother is never without a beer in her hand, and his relationship with his father is oddly tense. Emotionally starved, Kem internalizes harmful feelings, eventually spiraling to drug use in his search for relief.

At nineteen, Kem is homeless, roaming the cold Detroit streets. In the overly bright AA halls, Kem comes across men like himself verbalizing their feelings. The meetings helped him discover his own voice, using music as an outlet that has since touched millions.

In Share My Life, Kem chronicles his “revelatory, moving, and inspirational” (Lisa Cortés, Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer and director) journey of self-discovery. The young boy who struggled with feelings of worthlessness becomes a man willing to put everything on the line for his dream.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


Grammy-nominated R&B singer Kem debuts with a frank assessment of his struggles with addiction and the shame and “mask” of silence that fed his dysfunction. The narrative opens with Kem on the hunt for whatever substance might help him “descend into darkness numb out,” and then flashes backward, charting his course from rural Tennessee to Detroit, and from “a painfully shy kid bent on self-destruction to someone who performs original songs in front of appreciative fans.” He recounts the rocky path he took to stardom, including his stint in the short-lived R&B group Wild Pair, a latent belief in his own voice, and a brush with homelessness. Eventually, he writes, AA meetings pushed him toward self-expression and jump-started his recovery and career trajectory. Throughout, Kem is candid about the discrepancy between his lyrics and his troubled romantic relationships, and he dives headfirst into the complexities of his various interracial relationships. The takeaway is triumphant: music heals Kem, and his climb to the top is captivating and inspirational. Fans and non-fans alike will be moved. Agent: David Vigliano, Vigliano Assoc. (Apr.)

From the Publisher

"A forthright chronicle of hard-won success”KIRKUS

“The takeaway is triumphant: music heals Kem, and his climb to the top is captivating and inspirational. Fans and non-fans alike will be moved.”PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"Kem is one of the most remarkably gifted singers of his generation: an artist whose voice bathes in soulfulness. a performer who enchants his listeners with haunting melodies.. Share My Life is a breathtaking arrangement of words. composed of compassion drawn from a symphony of love, resounding in the heart and mind of one of our most inspiring vocalists and majestic human beings."—MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, New York Times bestselling author

"Watching Kem perform, I have always been struck by his open testimony of overcoming addiction. By sharing his struggles, he has helped so many others have the confidence to confront and overcome their own. He has shared his love with us, and now he shares the rest of the story. Through his memoir, we go beyond the music and better understand the people and places that helped shape Kem into the man he is today.”—KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS,

attorney and former mavor of Atlanta

"Kem's music is my go-to when I need a balm for the soul or when dancing with abandon when no one is looking. So it was no surprise that this book had the same effect. It is revelatory, moving, and inspirational. Thank you, Kem, for keeping it real and for sharing your brave heart."—LISA CORTÉS, Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning producer and director (The Apollo, Little Richard: I Am Everything)

"From the first time I heard the maiestic melody entitled "Share My Life, I always knew it was bigger than music. For the first time, we see the man behind the music, in a way we never have before. This journey documents the complete miracle from Detroit struggles to chart-topping success. I'm glad Kem has finally decided to share his life."—PASTOR KEION HENDERSON

"Kem has consistently combined his vocal fluidity, distinct phraseology, and musical chops into the unique sound of Kem. His music encompasses all that is great in the African American experience from gospel and blues to jazz and R&B. His message of loves lost, wished for, and ultimately found resonates with us all. Share Mv Life shows us that success is not an accident of fate but is the result of hard work, dedication, and perseverance -that overnight success is decades in the making. Kem's brutally honest and loving memoir demonstrates that no one is beyond redemption and in the end, 'Love Always Wins."—DR. SHARON MALONE, advocate for women's health

Library Journal


Raised in Detroit by distant, troubled parents, artist Kem learned quickly that "hard things are better left unsaid," which left him homeless at 19 as he coped with internalized pain by using drugs. Here he recounts his journey from that hard beginning to renown as an R&B singer/songwriter with multiple Grammy Awards to his credit.

Kirkus Reviews

An R&B star looks into his heart.

Making his book debut with a raw memoir, three-time Grammy nominee Kem, assisted by veteran music writer and co-author Ritz, recounts his rocky journey from self-destructive behavior to professional acclaim. Born Kim Owens in 1969, Kem was a shy child who felt unloved by his father and often ignored by his mother, who, for many years, was a functioning alcoholic. By the time he was a teenager, he tried to dull his pain with drugs and alcohol. In high school, he recalls, “smoking weed and drinking beer became an every-day thing. Sometimes before school, sometimes after. My dependency grew gradually but steadily.” He remembers his senior year through an “alcoholic fog.” After his father threw him out, he lived on the streets, stealing, lying, and “sinking into a quicksand of self-loathing.” When he landed in a Salvation Army shelter, he knew he had hit rock bottom. One of the residents knew, too, and urged Kem to attend a Twelve Steps meeting with him. It proved transformative. The program “was the first time in my life when I was consciously aware of searching for something. I was searching to better myself. Searching for a way to stop the hemorrhaging, the bleeding out of my life into this bottomless pit of despair.” Kem made a commitment to sobriety that, he realizes, “depends on daily spiritual maintenance,” including prayer, meditation, and music, which had always been a passion. He found inspiration in New Age churches, where he heard “God’s inspiration in all music.” Marianne Williamson, senior minister at one church, invited him to join her choir, which turned out to be an exhilarating experience for him and led to other public performances. In the 1990s, determined to write an album, he began an arduous process “to unearth the music buried in my heart”—a process that has earned him many accolades.

A forthright chronicle of hard-won success.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940175198660
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 04/04/2023
Edition description: Unabridged

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Nineteen 1 NINETEEN
I had dropped out of high school. After I had disappeared for weeks, my father wouldn’t let me return. He was permanently kicking me out to protect my mother, who was a recovering alcoholic. My presence would only make her worse. She didn’t want to see me. That was hard to hear, but it was even harder to argue with—so I didn’t. I stayed silent. I had no defense. I was drinking and drugging and had no intention to stop.

My friend Sam slipped me into the basement of his house, where he said I could sleep in a crawl space under the stairs, so that if his folks came down, they wouldn’t see me. The basement had a beige linoleum floor. On the walls were family pictures, including Sam’s dad in an army uniform. On the rear wall was a large mirror, the perfect backdrop to their neatly arranged full-service bar. Glass shelves were stocked with brand names like Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniel’s. There were multicolored glasses that suggested another era. Sitting on the bar itself was an oversized bottle of Canadian Club.

I went right for it. Hard liquor was a rare treat. I was usually stoned on cheap wine and malt liquor. I downed the whiskey in no time and headed for the crawl space. My small frame adjusted to the tight quarters. The booze flooded me with warmth. I had to rearrange some boxes to squeeze into the space. My brain was barely functioning. That was my aim. Quiet the confusion in my head. Descend into darkness. Numb out. Get through the night so the next day I could find something—beer, wine, or weed—to beat back the monotony of doing nothing and going nowhere.

As much as I appreciated the space Sam provided, survival meant going somewhere else. Since I was broke, the next step up from the crawl space was a rescue shelter. Over the vast landscape of urban and suburban Detroit, I lived in a dozen such places. Even there, I managed to mess things up. No one was willing to put up with my unruly behavior. Forced out of one shelter, I flopped to another.

My spirit had been drained dry by defeat. I hadn’t graduated from high school. My senior year had been an emotional, alcoholic fog. I’d gotten nowhere with the one talent I seemed to have: music. The only thing I excelled at was undercutting myself at every turn. My relationship with my parents was in ruins and my only friends were pretty much like me—outliers living on the edge. My social life consisted of nothing more than hanging out with winos and potheads. I couldn’t imagine having a girlfriend. I was in absolutely no condition to maintain a romantic relationship. I stole. I lied. I’d become a full-time conniver, sinking into a quicksand of self-loathing.

One morning in early spring, I woke up in a park with the hope of getting high. I went to see a guy I’ll call Fletch, a fellow addict I had met at a shelter who had managed to move back into his folks’ home. He was a friendly man, mentally challenged and hooked on crack. Our mission was to cop. To do so, he took the keys to his mother’s New Yorker. He knew a blood bank where our blood would yield enough cash to satisfy his dealer. We were joined in this effort by one of Fletch’s associates—another crackhead. As we drove through the city streets to the blood bank, I realized I had a problem. I had no driver’s license. I had lost it because of DWIs. In fact, I had no ID at all. That meant no giving blood. And no giving blood meant no dope.

“No worries,” said Fletch. “Stay in the car while we cop. We’ll get enough for you.”

He and his buddy entered the blood bank and sold their blood. I waited for them to return. Ten minutes. Thirty minutes. An hour. Clearly, they weren’t coming back. When I went to find them, I spotted a rear exit and understood what had happened. Rather than share the fruits of their labor, they’d run over to the crack man without me. In fact, Fletch was in such in a hurry, he had forgotten to take the car keys. So, in a state of righteous indignation, I got behind the wheel and peeled off.

I consoled myself by downing a bottle of Richards Wild Irish Rose, nicknamed “bum’s brew.” The wine lit me up. The day had turned gray; the sky was covered with low-hanging clouds heavy with moisture. When the rain came down, I opened the sunroof. The rain felt great. I felt great. I was speeding along the Lodge Freeway, leaving down-and-dirty Detroit and flying high to the evergreen bliss of Bloomfield Hills, the fancy burb where I’d try to buy more wine. But how could I do that? I was broke, but like most addicts I didn’t let that unfortunate fact bother me for long. All that mattered was the feeling of the rain hitting my face and the smooth ride of this plush New Yorker. I didn’t know what time it was. Didn’t know what day it was. Didn’t really care. Fueled by the bum’s brew, my brain was running a million miles a minute. I exited the freeway by making a couple of crazy turns. Before I knew it, I was slamming into a car and careening into a ditch. I was trapped inside a stolen car; being drunk didn’t help. The rain got heavier. My heart was hammering to the point of explosion. I closed my eyes, hoping it was all a dream. But the scream of sirens interfered with my fantasy. The woman driver in the other car was bruised but alive. I was hauled off to jail.

As I rode in the back of the cop car, the title of one samba-swaying Brazilian song, “A Day in the Life of a Fool,” hit home. Except that fool was too kind a word. Fuckup was more fitting. The drunken car wreck, the injured woman, this catastrophe—all of it pointed to the collapse of my character. Maybe it was strange to have a song pop up in my head during a disaster, but music had always been there as a far-off light in the fog. Now, though, the fog had only thickened.

The first twenty-three years of my life are the hardest to decipher because I was emotionally unconscious. To render my story effectively, I need to revisit the past. The crazy dysfunction of my early life has always troubled me. I find myself wanting to see through the misery and mystery of that dysfunction. I want to understand why and how it all happened. When I imagine the process of wading through those years, I see myself back at the keyboard, sitting for hours on end in search of the lost chord—or lost time.

I’ve gone from being a painfully shy kid bent on self-destruction to being someone who performs original songs in front of an arena overflowing with appreciative fans.

My story is a tale soaked in the blues.

My blues, like everyone’s blues, begin in the long ago and far away.

They connect to my mother’s blues, and her mother’s blues. Those connections are rhythmic. That rhythm is deep and historical, a rhythm without end.

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