For SUNY Oswego junior theatre major Kamal Morales -- who recently released his first EP, “Cycles of Love” as K The Vocalist -- artistry and performing comes naturally. His faith and creativity have fueled him throughout life, continuing through the pandemic.

“I’ve been performing since I was about 5 or 6 years old,” Morales said. “I grew up in church music so I’ve pretty much been singing my whole life. Singing has become a part of who I am and a part of my identity.”

The director of the SUNY Oswego Gospel Choir, Morales has been involved in three different choirs in his life. He is known around campus for being proactive and his overall positive personality. Although his singing voice can brighten up a room, he previously refrained from recording his own music. 

“Even though I’ve been singing my whole life, I was always hesitant to start my own music,” Morales said. “Specifically because I was always comparing myself to others. I kind of lost track of what an artist is.”

Morales believes the beauty of being an artist is about creating art for yourself and others to enjoy. He says being an artist should not be fueled by money or fame, as it’s about creating and sharing what comes within you. Music is his therapy and he believes the best music artists sing is because they love it, nothing more.

“During quarantine I had a conversation with God and he was basically like. ‘Bro what are you doing? You have the time, you have the resources, you know the people. You’re in New York City, one of the best places to be for all that stuff. So why aren’t you doing that?’” said Morales. 

Making a record

Finally, after months of frustration and stillness, Morales’ newfound clarity gave him hope. He would dedicate six weeks over the summer to writing, arranging and recording to create his own rhythm and blues EP titled, “Cycles of Love.” He uploaded it to SoundCloud under his stage name, K The Vocalist. The cover art comes from another Oswego student, graphic design major Ellie Cary.

“When I was sad or I was upset, I always ran to music,” Morales said. “I’d listen to music, I’d make music, I’d write music. The comfort that I find out of that is really satisfying and really rewarding and I’m so grateful that I can be a part of that experience.”

Being in New York City during quarantine lockdown was hard on Morales and left him feeling stagnant. His desire to perform and create was not being fulfilled, and he felt like he was holding himself back creatively. Time is all Morales had and with this time he evaluated his artistry with the help of his faith. 

Morales says K The Vocalist is an extension of himself, it is the side of him that many do not get to see. It is not only his stage name but it doubles as somewhat of an alter ego. Morales says creating K The Vocalist has helped him tap into the different sides of his creative personality. 

“I’m a multifaceted person and sometimes people are so used to the hype Kamal, the over flamboyant Kamal,” Morales said. “The whole reason why I even created K The Vocalist is because I wanted a separation from who I am, from my artist.” 

Morales also uses theatre performances to tap into his creativity. This semester he has performed in SUNY Oswego’s virtual performances of “In The Cotton” and “The Misanthrope.”

Morales says K The Vocalist helps him harness and express his loving side. During his EP’s recording process, he said he wanted to highlight the beauty and hardship that comes with love. Anything worth having is worth a bit of hardship and sacrifice, he said, and Morales’ love of his faith in God is one that he doesn’t shy away from.

“Faith plays a big part in my life because I use it as a guiding point into how I operate and how I see the world. I know that no matter what, no matter how many times I fail or fall down that I’m gonna get back up. That’s on God, period,” said Morales.

To hear “Cycles of Love,” visit K The Vocalist’s Soundcloud.

 -- Written by Rasheed Shabazz, Class of 2020 (December)