Kae was born in Philadelphia–the son of “Kae ‘Loudmouth’ Williams” who was the general manager and radio personality on WDAS Radio, and a record producer in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s — producing hits like “Get A Job” and “Let Me In”. Kae Jr.’s closeness to music began as a child playing the organ. At age 6, Kae performed with such proficiency that he was selected by The Wurlitzer Organ Company to exhibit a new system of playing the organ for The Philadelphia school system.
Kae continued to study music throughout elementary and middle school. Due to his mother and father’s involvement in the music industry, Kae was frequently surrounded by numerous music legends of today. His greatest inspiration and godfather was blues singer and guitarist, B.B. King. Kae’s childhood experiences with Mr. King inspired him to continue studying his craft throughout high school and college, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education.
Kae put his first band together in elementary school and the group continued to perform together as a unit all the way through high school. This band (later known as BREAKWATER) became the most popular local act in Philadelphia.
In 1977 record executive Clive Davis signed Kae’s group to his newly formed label: Breakwater was the first black act signed to and released by Arista Records (for whom they recorded two albums). In addition to Kae’s business responsibilities as founder and leader of the band, he was also the songwriter, arranger, and performed as keyboardist, and vocalist. It was Clive who started Kae’s career as a record producer by recommending that he produce the band’s second album Splashdown Time. Breakwater’s most recognized recordings are entitled “Work It Out” and “Say You Love Me Girl”. In 1997 BMG Music re-released the two Breakwater LP’s as CD imports worldwide with sales exceeding the 1979 and 1981 releases. In Philadelphia, June of 2001, Billboard and The Philadelphia Music Foundation held a formal gala ceremony, honoring and presenting to Breakwater The Urban Legends Award.
After Kae disbanded Breakwater in 1982 he went off to New York City to begin freelancing–this time in major studios as a keyboardist and synthesis for Change and The BB&Q Band. These recording sessions included classic works such as “Searching”, “Paradise”, and “On The Beat”. Kae’s natural writing and producing abilities did not go unnoticed, which subsequently resulted in Kae being asked to write and produce the second BB&Q record…and this was Kae’s first Number 1 Hit —“Imagination”.
In 1984, while moving into the path of the independent producer, Kae was also the arranger and keyboardist for producer Nick Martinelli, recording tracks for London’s Loosends (“Hanging On A String”), FiveStarr (“Let Me Be The One”), and Bootsie Collins’ “Body Slam”. Throughout the mid to late ‘80’s, on one out of every five recordings heard on radio worldwide, Kae was either the producer, and/or writer, arranger, and keyboardist.
While studying audio engineering at Boston University, Kae began exploring and focusing on his love for jazz. Networking and meeting jazz fusion artists led to an initial introduction with Freddie Hubbard, who immediately asked Kae to join his band. Constant travel was an exhausting but vital pre-requisite in order to accommodate the Boston University curriculum while continuing to work as a performing musician, writer, and producer throughout the United States. This schedule included intense private study of theory, composition, and engineering with Miami Vice composer Juan Hammer.
In 1985 Kae performed on and produced his first jazz album for saxophonist George Howard’s solo debut entitled Asphalt Gardens. Next came long time friend and jazz bassist Jamalladen Tacuma, who also requested that Kae produce his solo debut LP entitled Boss Of The Band.
Because of the huge successes of the Breakwater, BB&Q, and George Howard recordings, record executive Bob Crasnow at Elektra personally contacted Kae and asked him to write for and produce a new act he signed called MASON. These recordings were done in Memphis, Tennessee. Mason was part of the production house of the legendary BARKAYS. Once again Kae added two more Top 10 R&B hits to his list: Mason’s “Pour It On” and “Double Exposure”. James Alexander (founding member of the Barkays) was so satisfied with the results of these recordings, that he asked Kae to produce two songs on the next Barkays CD, Your Place Or Mine. Adding to the Elektra Records adventures was a four-song collaboration with Pia Zadora (also initiated and guided by Bob Crasnow).
In 1985, record executive Rick Chertoff (also producer of Cindy Lauper’s hit “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”) recommended Kae as the keyboardist for that recording and later inquired if he’d also be interested in composing songs for rock artists, as well. So Kae began collaborating as a writer with Cindy Lauper and Rachel Sweet.
Performing rock and roll gave Kae the boost, which led him to Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles and Sausalito, California. That’s where he met more rock artists and performed as a keyboardist on several west coast projects. Some of these recordings included Eddie Money’s “Babe Hold On To Me” and Stevie Nicks’ (of Fleetwood Mac) “Stand Back”, to name a few.
In 1986 Kae was asked to produce the fourth BB&Q album, which he entitled Genie. This was Kae’s first opportunity to record on location overseas. While in Europe writing, producing, and performing on this entire BB&Q album, Kae added a project in Germany to his itinerary for Atlantic Records. There he performed keyboards on an album featuring the self-contained German band Gaznivada. Later the BB&Q LP Genie became a Top 10 Hit in the United States and parts of Europe. The best-known songs from this album were “Dreamer” and “Genie”.
When Kae returned from Europe he discovered a band in Philadelphia named PRETTY POISON, whom he took on independently and developed from the ground up. This act became Virgin Records in America’s first group with an R&B base in the late ‘80’s. Kae finally launched his first Number 1 Pop Billboard smash. The Pretty Poison single “Catch Me I’m Fallin”, sold two million CDs. Kae recalls that the key to this cross over hit was attributed to the growth of his own keyboard performances and production approach. It was no coincidence that Kae created a sound that was appreciated by listeners and consumers of all music genres.
Shortly after the success of “Catch me I’m Fallin”, Kae was offered and accepted the opportunity to be one of two writers and producers for the Action Jackson film and soundtrack album.
Although Kae has enjoyed 24 years of success in the music business as a keyboardist, writer, arranger, programmer, producer and engineer, he felt that there was still something missing. Kae realized he’d bestowed his skills on every artist but himself.
After 24 years he’s right back at the beginning, again. On his latest works he now features himself as all of the above. Kae appropriately entitled his new collection of recordings Full Circle: Appearing with no estimated time of arrival with music that’s stronger than ever.
For information regarding Breaksongs, Pizzazz Music or Kae Williams Productions contact
Kae Williams III at firstname.lastname@example.org