Aretha Franklin was one of the most famous singers in history. Known as the “Queen of Soul,” Franklin changed music and received many accolades over the course of her career, including a whopping 18 Grammy Awards. But, did you know that her son, Kecalf Cunningham, is also a musician? Apparently, music runs in this famous family, but Franklin’s son is not well-known as her. So, who is Kecalf Cunningham, what kind of music does he make, and why did he go to jail so soon after his mother’s death?
His Musical Career
Having a mother like Aretha Franklin ensures that you’d grow up with music around you. This led Kecalf Cunningham to become a Christian rapper, even performing with his mother on stage. When he first started his rap career, Franklin was actually Cunningham’s manager. She sought to get each of her children a record deal to help them share their musical talents with the world.
While Cunningham certainly had his mother’s help and support, her natural talent may not have been genetic. Cunningham’s music career has been a little less than celebrated. Back in 2008, he performed at one of Franklin’s shows. According to a New York Times write-up following the performance, Cunningham “… came with a backpack, a hoodie, and some cheap-sounding recorded tracks. After what felt like ages, it was a relief to have Ms. Franklin return, energies renewed, to belt out ‘Chain of Fools.’”
Franklin referred to her son as “a hip-hopper and a rapper.” According to Vulture, he could be “the Shaquille O’Neal of Christian rap — that is, he’s been allotted rap resources for reasons other than rap aptitude.” Back in 2008, in the wake of that less-than-stellar New York Times review of his live performance, Vulture tried and failed to find access to Cunningham’s music. The article, “Just How Bad of a Rapper Is Aretha Franklin’s Son?” says, “He doesn’t have songs on iTunes; he doesn’t have songs on MySpace; no images of him appear on Google Image search or on Flickr; ‘Kecalf Cunningham rap’ produces nine hits on Google.”
He Spreads The Gospel Through His Lyrics
So, it seems like Cunningham’s music isn’t wildly popular. Even so, he still has a message he wants to share through his songs. Religion isn’t just a theme in Cunningham’s music. Cunningham often uses his lyrics to retell Bible stories. A line in one of his songs says, “Through immaculate conception, Gabriel gave Mary God’s directions, unsure of his intentions, she checked with Martha for confirmation, then her and Joseph had them a deep conversation.” According to heavy.com, “His music has an old school rap feel to it, complete with black and white videos and beats accompanied with piano.” While there are some videos of Cunningham’s rap available, there is still very little evidence of his music online.
Kecalf Cunningham Went To Jail
On August 16th, 2018, Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at age 76. Just two months later, Cunningham was arrested for driving while drunk. He pled guilty and was sentenced to a maximum of 93 days in prison for a DUI. He has been out of prison since February 26, 2019. We hope he’ll be channeling his mom and making more music to share with the world and help her legacy live on.