The inspirational, lead vocalist of AHYONZ is the talented and beautiful Kenya D. Crawford (Kenya C.). A popular, unique voice on the DFW music scene and trained vocalist with great stage presence, Kenya Dyan Miller was born on August 19, 1974 in Fort Worth, TX. Singing her very first solo at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church at the age of seven years old changed her life. The song was "God Has Smiled on Me". It was at that moment her mother and grandmother knew Kenya had a gift, and Kenya realized she was special.
Following the church service, Kenya was formally invited by Mrs. Harlean Beal and Mrs. Maurine Floor to join MY-TAG, Musically Young-Talented And Gifted, in the third grade at M. M. Walton Elementary School. As her confidence grew in music and performing, Kenya and a few friends decided to make up choreography for one of the MY-TAG performance numbers. They taught 75 students the movements to "Believe It or Not" - Theme Song from the TV series Greatest American Hero - in two days. The MY-TAG students knocked the showcase out of the park and the group of friends were recognized for their creativity and leadership. With a knack for performance, coupled with singing and teamwork, plus being a natural leader, Kenya's next stop was The Texas Girls' Choir.
The Texas Girls' Choir (TGC) was the starting point of Kenya's experience of being guided by great directors and it would become the moment to shape her development as a vocalist with an on-stage presence. An audition in the summer of 1985 opened an opportunity to join the historical girls' choir in the city under the direction of Mrs. Shirley Carter. TGC had three choirs - McCorkle Preparatory Choir, Main Choir, and Concert Choir. Main Choir and Concert Choir were broken up into two internal choirs. Milsap Main was the entry into Main Choir and Thompson Main was the entry into the Concert Choir which was also split into two choirs - Gilland Concert and Carter Concert. The Concert Choir was the only choir allowed to go on tour. Members would move up in the choirs based on the rehearsals and the performances that were attended. This method provided a sense of accomplishment, responsibility, and determination for each member as they grew in TGC. Kenya was a three-year member of TGC. She moved very quickly from the McCorkle Preparatory Choir to the Milsap Main Choir and finally landing in the Concert Choir. Kenya toured the state of Texas in 1986 for the Sesquicentennial Celebration and traveled on the European Long Tour for 10-days in 1988. She took her "Last Bow" in 1988 with TGC at the Spring Concert. That moment marked her entry into high school.
From 1988-1992 Kenya attended O. D. Wyatt High School. O. D. Wyatt High School had the best choir director in the city - Mrs. Jewel Blanton Kelly. Mrs. Kelly was a figure in the community, 'The Jewel of Gospel on KHVN, a powerhouse within The Gospel Music Workshop of America, and she was a cousin by marriage. The family connection did not give Kenya a head start. She had to work for every milestone in her first year at O. D. Wyatt because Mrs. Kelly did not like freshman.
In the first semester at O. D. Wyatt, Kenya enrolled in choir. Because her vocal experience was unknown to Mrs. Kelly, she was placed in the Gospel Choir. The Gospel Choir performed at the Fort Worth Independent School District's (FWISD) High School Citywide Gospel Fest which was always held at O. D. Wyatt because of Mrs. Kelly's gospel roots. While preparing for Gospel Fest Kenya's voice was recognized and in the second semester of her freshman year, she was moved to the A capella Choir, the elite choir of the high school known as the "O. D. Wyatt Singing Chaparrals". Every high school's A capella Choir participated in the citywide choir competition and O. D. Wyatt placed Division One in Kenya's first year and first semester as a student in the A capella choir. Shortly after the choir competition, all the high schools' A capella choir students of FWISD auditioned for the All-City Honors Choir. As a freshman, Kenya placed in the Top Five for the Alto Section. According to Mrs. Kelly, a freshman at O. D. Wyatt had never placed in the Top Five in any section. This placement allowed Kenya to audition for a scholarship as a Top Five vocalist in the Alto Section. The scholarship was for the First and Second Chair for each vocal section (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass). Her first audition for the scholarship placed Kenya as the Third Chair Alto in the All-City Honors Choir - also something a freshman at O. D. Wyatt had never accomplished.
The years at O. D. Wyatt proved to be a growing point filled with music theory, vocal education, listening skills, pitch exercises, performance, competition, and stage presence always at the forefront. This time allowed Kenya to develop under the experience of not only Mrs. Kelly but also Mrs. Sue Baratto of Texas Wesleyan University, Mrs. Barbara Moore of Southern Methodist University, Mr. Alan Potts of Fort Worth Country Day School, Mr. Finis Smith who was a titan in vocal interpretation, and other stellar vocal coaches and breathing specialist. This time also allowed for many church musicians to be an influence in Kenya's life, such as Kenya's cousin Mrs. Dorothy Thomas, Kenya's cousin Mr. Bobby Baylor who was a renowned composer of gospel music, Ms. Pamela Gunter, Mr. Steve Johnson, Mr. Glenn Nixon, Mr. Mark Davis, Ms. Mackie Spradley, Mr. Marcus Robinson and countless others poured into the development of Kenya spiritual voice. These musical instructors and facilitators helped develop Kenya's interpretation of songs. Her years in high school were rewarded with opportunities and responsibilities handed down from Mrs. Kelly along with special invitational performances from Mrs. Willa Barminski, head of the FWISD Music Department. Kenya was awarded with scholarships, metals, and trophies from countless auditions and performances. She graduated Cum Laude from O. D. Wyatt in 1992.
The birthplace of jazz became another place of growth for Kenya's next vocal music experience. After graduating from high school, she enrolled and attended Dillard University in New Orleans, a Historical Black College and University (HBCU), hoping to major in Pre-Med Biology and become a coroner. The hope to major in Pre-Med Biology quickly evolved into a major in Mass Communications with a minor in Vocal Music Performance. Mass Communications allowed her to encompass music, radio, public relations, and theater.
As a student at Dillard University, she continued to study choir music under the direction of Mr. S. Carver Davenport. Mr. Davenport was immediately impressed with Kenya after her choir audition. He continued the process of Kenya's development as her vocal coach, and he invited her to be the 2nd Alto in the University Choir's Female Quartet. Kenya's voice attracted other music instructors at Dillard University who created opportunities for her to perform. Mr. Maynard Chatters, a renowned trumpeter in the New Orleans area and abroad, placed Kenya with the University Jazz Band as the lead vocalist and Mr. Moses Hogan featured Kenya every year on the historical Martin Luther King Day Celebration. Dillard University President Dr. Samuel Dubois Cook and his wife Mrs. Sylvia Cook invited Kenya to be an occasional featured vocalist during certain convocations and private gatherings. As a University Choir Member and Female Quartet 2nd Alto, Kenya traveled with the choir for two years before taking a break to explore another creative opportunity - radio.
In 1993, the Samuel DuBois Cook Fine Arts & Communications Center was built. The Center was home to the School of the Humanities, which housed the Fine Arts Gallery and studios, state-of-the-art television and recording studios, the Music Department, the Drama Department and a theater, and a radio station. WDUB, the University's Radio Station in the Mass Communications Department, was the birthplace of Kenya's radio show Slow and Mellow Moods with Kandi K, which became an instant hit around campus and with the administration. Taking a break from singing to be live on the radio allowed Kenya to use her creative voice in a way that she had not considered. She continued with vocal lessons and performing occasionally but she now had the freedom to create commercials, voice overs with special vocal tones and cut them into something that was for a grade as well as airtime worthy content. The radio work parlayed into yet another creative outlet - theater.
After two years of performing with the University Choir and one year of working in the University Radio Station, the theatrical stage called. The University Theatre revamped with award winning director Dr. Alex Marshall. In 1994, Dr. Marshall arrived at Dillard University ready to produce eight shows in two years starting Fall 1995, which meant Kenya would have to stay at school an additional year if she wanted to be included in the first round of students in the Theatre Department. Dr. Marshall is one of the reasons Kenya added another year to graduate instead of completing her course study in 4 years. The opportunity to be involved with the University Theatre was special because she had never done any stage work outside of singing on-stage. Her decision to stay was a good one. In that time Kenya's first roll with the University Theatre was the off-stage character of Mahalia Jackson in a play about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his life behind the speeches. She sang "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" as part of the infamous "I Have a Dream" speech. The off-stage roll was a warm-up for auditions for "Mama, I Want to Sing". Kenya auditioned and got the part of 'Doris Winter'. The role was full of choreography, wardrobe changes, music, and acting - something that Kenya had never experienced. She learned in that performance year about controlling her emotions in a scene and how to breakdown scenes to create back stories while developing a character that she was to portray in front of an audience. "Mama, I Want to Sing" was the absolute ultimate experience that Kenya could have ever imagined.
The year 1997 continued to be the year of building experiences and learning to expand for Kenya. She continued to complete her course work in Mass Communications. Kenya took a week-long internship with Regis and Kathie Lee and an eight-week internship with Audio-Technica for The National Football League Super Bowl XXXI, both were being held in New Orleans that year. She still maintained course work, radio hosting on WDUB, other radio job internships, vocal performances, and the theatre. Kenya also found time to work behind the scenes in makeup/wardrobe and stage managing on some of the other productions. Her final audition was for a play entitled "One Mo' Time" where she was cast as "Thelma". Kenya felt comfortable singing, dancing, and acting on stage. "One Mo' Time" was her last performance at Dillard University. She graduated the Monday after Mother's Day with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications with a Minor in Vocal Music Performance and the promise of a career in radio broadcasting in Dallas, TX.
Three days after graduation, Kenya found herself in the Baton Rouge, LA studios of No Limit Records, a Deep South record label. Her roommate and friend Erika Hill introduced her to artists at the label. Kenya recorded background vocals on singles for No Limit Records recording artists Mia X ("Mommie's Angels") and Mr. Serv-On ("Heaven Is So Close"). It was her first time in the recording booth, and she loved it. For now, the record labels and recording contracts would have to wait.
Kenya's professional radio career began as soon as she arrived home from college. She was hired at one of the local gospel radio stations, KGGR 1040 AM. Kenya was the afternoon drivetime radio personality (Monday-Friday 2:00p.m.-7:00p.m.) and the host of the Sunday morning station talk show "Spotlight on the Metroplex". The momentum from college continued to flow and it could not be denied as the station was looking to expand and create a new energy. Seven months into the position, she was promoted to Program Director of the station. Program Director of a gospel radio station in a major market was a big deal for a 20-something. There were a lot of real-life lessons that were not being turned in for a grade, but Kenya took every lesson to complete one at a time with success. From staffing/training, writing script for and assigning commercials, organizing the broadcasts, and keeping them current to making sure that the station was broadcasting properly - all of this was on-the-job-training for Kenya. It was nothing like college. This portion of Kenya's life was a constant for about three years until she decided not to continue. Love and family had come into the picture, and she did not want to intermingle those experiences with business, so she resigned to no longer being a radio personality. Her next role was that of wife and mother. She moved to Houston, TX, and on Monday, April 4, 2000, gave birth to a seven-pound 12-ounce baby boy - Stacy II.
Shortly after the new baby was born, the family returned to Fort Worth and new life began. Her new role as wife and mother proved to be quite rewarding, and although she was no longer at the radio station, music was always present. Kenya kept her personal music playing and she stayed immersed in gospel music. She owned a professional karaoke unit to stay entertained at home and continued singing in the choir at her family's church, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (AMBC). Kenya had been a member of AMBC since 1988 and always a part of the service of the church and whatever designated choir was singing except for the Men's Chorus, of course.
By 2003, Kenya ended her marriage and retreated to AMBC for healing, deliverance and maintaining her spiritual connection. Music was always there to keep her, and her voice became her way to breathe. After years of service in the choir, she was appointed to position of Choir Director in 2006. As choir director Kenya taught parts, assigned the music for Sunday Worship Service, organized the annual musical, and much more. This leadership position allowed Kenya to draw from her years of experience of singing in choirs and being directed by every musician that ever came through AMBC as well as drawing from the gospel groups that she had performed with like Warren Bailey & Friends, Visions with Thaddaeus Faulkner, and Dedicated & Determined. Kenya was choir director for two years before moving to Indianapolis, IN with her husband Arthur Crawford (married October 13, 2008).
Indianapolis was the place of the second declaration that a band would be formed with Kenya as the lead singer. The first declaration was when Kenya saw songstress Martha Burke perform at Dallas's Brooklyn Jazz in 2002, college friends recall her declaring, 'That is gonna be me one day." The beginning of 2008 was an adjustment because it began up North. Kenya had never been up North, so she was quite open to the experience. For the first time she saw four seasons. For the first time she saw real snow. And for the first time she had nowhere to run when things got tough. Indianapolis is the place where Arthur really heard her sing. Kenya locked herself in the bedroom with every karaoke CD she owned, and she sang for six hours straight. This was amazing to Arthur and his family who was in the living room listening in awe. He didn't know at the time that Kenya had such passion for singing, performing, and what she liked to call 'breathing'. After nine months of living in Indianapolis, they returned to Fort Worth in August.
Kenya saw her childhood friend and classmate Dewayne Washington upon returning to the city. Dewayne had just finished a performance at The Oasis at Joe Pool Lake during Labor Day weekend. They prolonged their families for about two hours catching up and regaling about their O. D. Wyatt days. Arthur shared with Dewayne how Kenya sang for hours, and he could not understand how someone could sing for so long with such power. Dewayne explained to Arthur about Kenya's background in high school. After the stories, Arthur and Dewayne made the final declaration and decided that it was time for Kenya to have a band. Dewayne put a band together and Arthur searched for a performance location while Kenya created a name for her band.
The development of a new band took a few weeks to get musicians, select songs, rehearse, and find a venue. The name of the band had to be something that would be catchy and have a purpose. Kenya found a science term - ion. The word ion is defined as an atom or molecule with a net electric charge due to the loss or gain of one or more electrons. It was a cool word and the phonetic spelling of it looked even better. A H Y O N - and Kenya added the Z so the word to be plural. The spelling of the band name has meaning and purpose - A is the beginning and Z is the end, God is Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end, and the band performs everything from A to Z. The name was selected, the band was established, and now the song content had to be created. Cover tunes was how AHYONZ began and most of the music came from the list of karaoke music Kenya had gathered over the years. AHYONZ had its debut night on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at the Circle Spur Club inside of the Ramada DFW Airport South in Irving TX.
AHYONZ featuring Kenya C. is an eclectic mix of musical artists comprising one of the hottest bands in the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) area. The band performs original music and an extensive library of covers including R&B, jazz, gospel, neo-soul and more. Whether it is one of your favorite songs or a groove that just won't stop, AHYONZ featuring Kenya C. provides the mix that keeps the crowds entertained and captivated.
For many years, the band has headlined and performed across the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and surrounding areas at clubs, special event venues, big stage shows, and private locations. The inspirational, lead vocalist of AHYONZ is the talented and beautiful Kenya D. Crawford (Kenya C.) is a popular and unique voice on the DFW music scene. She is a trained vocalist with great stage presence. In addition to being a performer, Kenya C. is a wife, and a mother of three beautiful children, Stacy II, Malachi, and Ma'Laiya.
AHYONZ featuring Kenya C. continues to blaze the stage on every performance. The band is moving forward having produced a self-titled EP in 2014, the AHYONZ LIVE CD in 2017, and a concert DVD in 2018. Two singles have been released, as well. "Keep Living" written by Kenya C. and Bryan Nesbitt in 2019 and the newest release "I Can't Wait" produced by Kevin Hicks. "I Can't Wait" was released February 26, 2021 and promises to be one of the best original tracks composed for AHYONZ.
Booking for AHYONZ featuring Kenya C. is handled by SoESE Management. Call Arthur Crawford at 817-583-0019 to schedule the band for performances. For all interviews, contact Belinda Foster with AWJ Platinum PR Firm at 424-222-0990.
AHYONZ featuring Kenya C. has shared the stage with....
• Dave Hollister from Blackstreet
• Renowned international jazz violinist Michael Ward
• Renowned international saxophonist Marion Meadows
• Comedian Joe Torry
• Pieces of a Dream, Cameo, and Rachelle Ferrell - DeSoto SoulJazz Concert
• Urban Mystic
• Angela Winbush
• Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
• Lil' G
• Mystical and Cupid
• Cherelle and R.L. from N.E.X.T.
• The Bar Kays, Con Funk Shun, The Ohio Players - Masters of Funk
• Will Downing, Maysa, and Calvin Richardson
• Midnight Star
• Howard Hewett
• Comedian Gary Owen
• An Improv Line-Up of National Comedians including... George Wallace, Michael Colyar, John Hinton, Lil' Rel, Tony Rock, Don "DC" Curry, Tommy Davidson and the list continues.
AHYONZ featuring Kenya C. has performed in many milestone events including...
• The Fort Worth Assembly Debutante Ball (2009, 2010)
• Annual convention of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Inc. held in Fort Worth, TX during the summer of 2010.
• The HollyRod Foundation's Annual Benefit Auction held at the Hilton Hotel-Downtown Dallas for the 2011 Super Bowl Weekend.
• Annual Christmas Party for Blue Bonnet Construction Company in 2010.
• 2011 Fight Cancer Now!! Benefit Concert in Cedar Hill, TX,
• Featured band for Old School 94.5 with radio personality Tony B. for "Soulschool Thursdays" at Brooklyn Jazz Café every Thursday from May 2011 through November 2011
• Performed for several church Marriage Ministry events and celebrations for Friendship West, St. John Baptist Church of Grand Prairie, TX and Southlake, TX, Christian Stronghold Church, and Kenya C.'s home church, First St. John Cathedral.
• 2014 performance The Silent Partner's Monte Carlo event for their 10th Annual New Year's Eve celebration.
• Performed in Omaha, Nebraska for MLK Weekend at Love's Jazz & Art Museum.
• Alumni Celebration for Talladega College in Talladega, AL
The band has also played at several weddings and private events as well as creating their own productions, such as...
• July 2011 at the W.E. Scott Theatre in Fort Worth, TX for the Soul Unlimited Concert produced by her company SoESE Management.
• The band performed at the Arlington Improv for "Soulful Saturdays", also produced by her company SoESE Management, every Saturday from November 2012 until April 2013
• The House of Blues Dallas
• Zuri Lounge - PoolSide