Composer | Pianist | Violinist | Vocalist | Educator
Most currently, Kendrah performed and composed new original work for LeVar Burton's, "LeVar Burton Reads" episode titled, "Driftglass" by Samuel R. Delany. This performance was receive by a sold out audience at the Scottish Rite Auditorium and is streaming on all major streaming media outlets.
"Kendrah Butler-Waters, a multi-instrumentalist, composer and emerging storyteller in high demand, presents music that authentically parallels her life. In spite of her years, her music and oftentimes, lyrics embody the wisdom of her ancestry. You can hear the encouraging words of Kendrah's proud grandmother, feel her dedication to her family and you are most certainly moved by her exploration of her deep relationship with GOD. Her narrative is an indication that she has no limits and there is no musical genre that she cannot digest."
"A multitalented pianist, composer, and vocalist who weaves cultural honesty and spiritual sensibilities into her compositions and performances."
I feel very lucky to have found Kendrah's work for our live event! She composed and performed a gorgeous accompaniment to a live reading by LeVar Burton of a classic tale by the speculative fiction pioneer Samuel Delaney. She seamlessly blended musical styles as suggested by the narrative and characters, creating riffable themes that enhanced the story and LeVar's read without overpowering them. She was a wonderful collaborator who was ready to tweak through rehearsal and into the performance to make it the best show possible."
Kendrah was the 2015-2016 Jazz Resident with the Kimmel Center and produced a body of work that focused on the genre “sacred jazz”. This twenty piece body of work was widely received to sold out audiences. The sold out World Premier of the work was widely received and Kendrah plans to continue to market the work as well as expand the project."
Pianist, composer, and vocalist Kendrah E. Butler-Waters grew up in a household surrounded by jazz, Motown, classical, and gospel classics. Raised by a single mother in the outskirts of Philadelphia, Kendrah’s mother Charlotte Butler would purchase her first Fisher Price keyboard not knowing that Kendrah would listen to the music her mother would play on records and imitate what she heard by playing it on her little keyboard. Her mother was encouraged to start Kendrah on piano lessons. After purchasing Kendrah a used baby grand piano from a Temple graduate student, Kendrah would begin her classical studies with her teacher, Charles Pettaway at the Settlement Music School. She studied with world renowned pianist Charles Pettaway for 11 rigorous years. Simultaneously, Kendrah would begin her jazz studies at the Mount Airy Cultural Center, founded by saxophonist Anthony “Tony” Williams. At Mount Airy, Kendrah received the Philadelphia Jazz grooming on the piano from jazz greats like Don Wilson and Kenny Gates. Kendrah’s serious and rigorous study of both classical and jazz piano afforded her a Roam and Haas scholarship at Settlement Music School for 5 years to study with the late Philadelphia legendary pianist Eddie Green (pianist for Billy Paul, Tyrone Brown, and many others). Kendrah’s love of jazz and her faith would go to shape her musical identity.
Kendrah, before the age of 18 would tour the tri-state area with well known youth quintet “The Best Yet Quintet” (developed by Tony Williams), record a demo CD with then Gamble and Huff Records, appear on television, radio, jazz festivals, and work with other renowned jazz musicians like Grover Washington, Mike Boone, David “Fathead” Newman, Leon Huff, Gloria Lynn, Leon Jordan Sr., Trudy Pitts, and many more.
Kendrah pursued other studies beyond the realm of music in college. She would later graduate from Temple University in 2008 with a dual bachelors degree in Political Science and Sociology with a minor in Spanish. Kendrah was still connected to her music and would later reconnect with her love for jazz, composition, arranging, and performing. After working in the public health research world as a researcher, Kendrah would then teach piano, violin, voice, and composition in several music schools and began performing more regularly. In 2009, Kendrah recorded a live CD of original compositions at Milkboy in Ardmore, PA to a sold out audience. After the loss of some of the tunes, Kendrah would record some of the music for the CD at Milkboy’s then studio in Ardmore, PA. Kendrah would later host a 2 night CD release concert at the Philadelphia Clef Club to 2 sold out audiences. Kendrah’s CD, titled “Indigo Writings” a composition project has been featured on both TV and radio.
Kendrah’s love for composition would lead her to applying and being rewarded the competitive and coveted Kimmel Center Jazz Residency for 2015-2016. The year long residency allowed Kendrah to compose and produce a body of work that focused on developing sacred jazz music. Her compositions merged the genres of jazz, gospel, and hymnology of the African American experience. Working then with vocalist Shamika Byrd, the World Premier of their work was received to a sold out audience. Kendrah continues to expand the body of work as well as perform and market the 10 piece orchestra that performs the work with her. Kendrah is a part of the “Kimmel Center Family” and continues working with the Kimmel Center in a variety of ways.
Kendrah is also a notable music director working with the Philadelphia Jazz Project as a music director for various project, notably the “Diva Nation” project as seen on TV and heard on the radio. She has also worked with Jazz Bridge President and Sistas in the Front Founder, Rhenda Fearrington on developing Philadelphia’s Women in Jazz Tour for 3 years. The Women in Jazz Tour was a series of concerts around Philadelphia featuring women during March’s Women’s History Month. Large sold out concerts were featured during the tour and provided women around the city, both vocalist and musicians opportunities to be featured artists. Kendrah has also been in the musical director role in several churches, leading and working with various choirs and praise teams.
Kendrah has also done various solo piano performances, one of which was a solo piano tribute to Mary Lou Williams at the Pennsylvania premier of producer/director Carol Bash’s documentary film on Mary Lou Williams. Kendrah has also scored music for the documentary titled, “The LaMott Community Garden” sponsored by PBS’s, “Our Community Stories” which is featured and recurrently played on PBS and WHYY. Most recently, Kendrah performed and composed new work for LeVar Burton and his “LeVar Burton Reads” Tour episode titled, “Driftglass”; a work by famed author/Sci-Fi Innovator Samuel L. Delany. This performance was received by a sold out audience at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in New Jersey and is streaming on all major media outlets. Kendrah also accompanied music director Tonya Dorsey on piano at the National Black Catholic Congress in Florida to audiences of over 5,000 catholics around the world and performed original pieces for a concert as part of week long masses and workshops.
Kendrah has performed with her trio or quartet at countless jazz venues including the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, The Philadelphia Clef Club, The International House, The Museum of the American Revolution, The Philadelphia Art Museum, The Mandel Theater, Venice Island Performing Arts Center, The Cape May Jazz Festival, The Lancaster Avenue Jazz Festival, The Ardmore Jazz Festival, The Turn Up the Love Festival, Chris’ Jazz Cafe, the Community Education Center and abroad. Kendrah, from June to August 2011 went on an Ethnodoxolgy missions trip to England, France, Germany and Belgium with a team of 10 other musicians developing culturally relevant worship music in addition to performing through northern France in various churches and performance venues.
Kendrah recently released her first feature solo album, “Faith Walk” in December 2020. This album will feature all new original compositions and arrangements by Kendrah performed with her quartet. Featured artists include: Nimrod Speaks, Jeff Scull, Justin Sekelewski, Darryl Jackson, Gusten Rudolph, and V. Shayne Frederick. This album is sure to excite listeners. The single and video for, "The Negro Spirituals" was released October 2, 2020. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE ALBUM.
Education is also an integral part of Kendrah’s life which is why in 2013, Kendrah received her Masters degree in Elementary Education from Drexel University. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades for the Norristown Area School District and is currently teaching 3rd grade for the Hatboro-Horsham School District. Kendrah also taught at the University of Pennsylvania the course, “The History of Jazz” as an adjunct professor. She also teaches various masterclasses at various universities.