There will always be something special about music with a mission. When there is a story behind the sound it makes it reach deeper into our hearts and creates a real connection. Our new friend The Journey with ToughKenaMan hopes to share his story of dealing with his father’s dementia through his latest single “Your Smile”.
We had the chance to chat with him and get a little deeper into the emotion. Enjoy the interview here:
First off, what is the story behind the name The Journey with ToughKenaMan?
ToughKenaMan is a nickname my Father gave himself which all started back 10+ yrs ago when he was working for Philadelphia Electric. The actual nick name manifested from his frequent visits to Toughkenamon, Pa. while delivering utility poles on his tractor trailer. On one of his routine visits to this city, my Father was sitting in his tractor trailer waiting for some contractors whom would eventually show up two hours late….this of course made my Father a bit angry. During his 2 hour wait he was parked directly in front of a Toughkenamon exit sign which stirred up some silly thought in his mind……”I’m tough…..my name is Ken…..I’m a man……I’m ToughKenaMan!!!”
Although the city is spelled with “mon” at the end, it wasn’t until years later after his dementia would progress that my Father believed the people of this city would change the spelling of Toughkenamon to ToughKenaMan. Now in his mind the reason for the change was because my Father did an admirable thing by standing up to and addressing the contractors for showing up 2 hours late.
How would you describe your sound?
A friend of mine by the name of Dan Gasby who had me on his podcast show said the song, “Your Smile” has a “Coul sound”……a blend of Country and Soul with a touch of hip hop. I thought this was spot on.
Which artists have had the biggest influence on you?
Country artist Bobby Goldsboro……hip hop artist Rakim……Led Zeppelin…..and a countless others from different genres.
What is it that first drew you to music?
The beat!!……I was instantly drawn to the beat of the music first. That’s why hip hop and even some house music resonates with me so deeply. It wasn’t until years later I started paying close attention to music as a whole and the many elements that go into capturing a certain sound and melody that makes your head nod or your toes tap.
Your recent song “Your Smile” seems to have some real emotion in it. Can you share the story behind it?
Having been forced to accept my Father’s dementia and the challenges that come with it, the one thing that has stayed intact is his smile. It’s because of his smile that I am able to somewhat cope with this heartbreaking situation. There are things in life that bring us hope and in my case it’s my Father’s smile.
Now, being a creative person and writing poetry over the years for the women I fell in love with helped with developing my writing ability. I thought to myself, many of the rappers we grew up listening to are well versed in writing poetry…..which motivated me to put together a song that will forever celebrate my Father, what he and I have been through and what many others worldwide are experiencing as well.
What do you hope the listener will take away from your music?
Ultimately, it’s about raising awareness of dementia, the importance of staying in your loved one’s life when they need you the most and using your voice to induce change so that we can improve humanity. I feel it’s our duty as a human being to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and be an inspiration to others who have not found their purpose.
Share some advice for other artists willing to put their life into thier music?
If it comes from your heart there is no denying your story, feelings, experience or your truth. The more real your words and sound are the more receptive others will be to your expression.
Give us a look into the future of The Journey with ToughKenaMan?
I’m gonna continue leading with my heart and do my best to make the necessary adjustments through the changes my Father will experience. As long as it makes sense and feels right there’s no telling what could surface at this stage. But I do know it’s important that I stay healthy so that I can be there for my Father, Mother and help share with others what I believe to be essential when fighting to overcome adversity.