Episode 174 – Brian Kennedy

Grammy-winning producer aims to use music as healing
By LA Stories Staff Los Angeles
PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Feb. 19, 2024

Growing up in Kansas City, Brian Kennedy found out at an early age that he had a gift: At just 6 years old, he could play a song on the piano after only hearing it once or twice.

From then on, Kennedy knew he wanted to be in the music industry. He said from that young age, he was aware of the emotional reaction music sparked in not just himself but also the people he played for.
“As a kid, I’m just feeling good and just feeling emotionally relieved,” he said. “I call it a spiritual ID. It’s like the way you express yourself through art, whether it’s music, whether it’s painting. It shows you really who you are and, I would say, in God’s perfection.”

In the latest episode of “LA Stories” with host Giselle Fernandez, Kennedy shares how he became a successful music producer.

Moving to Los Angeles when he was 20, he had a chance encounter with singer Ciara.

He boldly gave her his demo, and she hired him for her next album. Kennedy went on to work with Rihanna, Chris Brown, Rascal Flatts and more — and won four Grammys for his work.

When headaches and fatigue started to slow him down, he chalked it up to his busy lifestyle.

It wasn’t until a trip to the dentist that he learned he had high blood pressure — and was on the verge of a stroke.

“It was FSGS. It’s the most rare and aggressive form of kidney failure,” he said. “I had scars on my kidney and I had a 10% function.”

The experience with his health opened Kennedy’s eyes to more significant issues in the health care industry. He said he was turned down for a kidney transplant despite having a perfect match and willing donor in his brother.

He says he felt ignored — and even discriminated against because he is Black.

Eventually, he got the transplant in his hometown of Kansas City, but he was so moved by the experience that he created a nonprofit foundation called Hits to Healing, which aims to promote health equity by connecting with marginalized communities.

Kennedy hopes to combine his love of music with his nonprofit by creating and promoting music as healing energy. He hopes that by sharing his story, he can save the lives of others going through experiences similar to his.

“I started realizing I was representing not only me, but a whole community,” he said. “It feels way different this time. I feel like I’m one with my gift.”

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