A Nashville-born, Detroit-based singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, Kem
(born Kim Owens
) overcame homelessness and addiction to become one of the most popular adult contemporary R&B artists of the 2000s. He funded the recording of his self-released debut, Kemistry
, by working as a waiter and as a singer in a wedding band. After he sold 10,000 copies, the disc was picked up by Motown for nationwide release in February 2003. The album eventually reached the Top 20 of the Top Hip-Hop/R&B Albums chart. Its follow-up, Album II
, came out in May 2005. Like its predecessor, it reached gold status; it sold over 500,000 copies in the U.S. His third album for Motown, titled Intimacy
, was issued five years later, debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, and went gold as well; the single "Why Would You Say" was nominated for Grammy awards in the categories of Best R&B Male Performance and Best R&B Song. A holiday album, What Christmas Means, followed in 2012.