Kephas is a word with both Greek and Aramaic origins, the equivalent of “Rock.” It is also the moniker of a man on a spiritual path and the name of an accomplished recording artist.
Kephas is a Florida-based songwriter, producer, guitarist and vocalist at the axis of an expansive collection of sounds: electric guitar lines soar over a percolating hotbed of Latin percussion in songs that map a terrain of textures and rhythms across a cinematic soundscape.
Born in Miami to Cuban immigrant parents, Kephas was raised on the sounds of their homeland: urbane big bands easing effortlessly into the rhythms of Africa; the hushed sanctity of a Catholic mass contrasting with the rituals of Santería.
Kephas’ first instruments were cello and drums, but when he picked up the guitar his pathway was illuminated. “I felt a calling,” he notes. It was the era of guitar heroes, and Kephas was influenced by the extended jams of Southern Rock and inspired by Carlos Santana, an artist who also crossed cultures.
“I work in English,” Kephas avows. “The music that I do, even my Latin stuff, is Americanized.”
Blessed with the technical facility to master the complexities of digital recording, Kephas creates full-blown tracks in his own studio where he spends long nights overdubbing instruments until they gleam with a shining veneer.
Although he has worked with bands, his expertise also gives him the facility to recreate his sound solo, with vibrant authenticity.
While the techniques are impressive, what designates the power of Kephas’ musical mélange is an effortless and intuitive creative flow. “I let the music write itself and I ask,
‘Where is it going; what does it mean; what is the sense of the composition?’”
A strong spiritual connection informs Kephas’ artistry. “Something with the potential to lift someone’s spirits. Even if it sounds melancholy it evolves into a happier space.”
With an immense backlog of material, Kephas estimates that he could conceivably work for the next five years on his preexisting catalog.
Two recent projects collect his handiwork: The first, an instrumental CD titled Threshold of Truth, explores the spiritual path of music through evocative melodies and deep Latin percussion.
Also in the pipeline is Corazon De Leon, a Latin/Spiritual project with a track penned by Kephas’ late uncle, Rigoberto Estevez.
Above the infinite sustain of electric guitar, the surge of the Hammond organ and the syncopated grooves of timbales and congas glows an aura of reverence and thankfulness.
“All of my songs are prayers,” Kephas concludes. “I’m offering meditations through music.
To me it’s not an earthly thing – it’s divine – it has to come from God.
And that’s why I do it.”