Who are Silk Sonic’s backup singers? Twitter goes wild after BET Awards performance

Bruno Cooke June 28, 2021
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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American R&B Superduo Silk Sonic, aka Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, left the door open for an audience of vaccinated fans for their 2021 BET Awards performance yesterday (27 June). But not only did Silk Sonic’s key members (Anderson and Mars) receive praise – their backup singers also made a splash. So, who are they?

Meet Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak’s joint project

Silk Sonic released their debut single, Leave the Door Open, on 5 March 2021. 

The duo, which comprises recording artists Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, plans to release their debut album, An Evening With Silk Sonic, later this year.

Their collaboration began in 2017, when Anderson served as the opening act on the European leg of Mars’s 24K Magic World Tour. 

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Later that year, they worked together at Abbey Road Studios, with Nile Rodgers and Guy Lawrence (of Disclosure) for Chic’s album It’s About Time.

Who are Silk Sonic’s backup singers?

Although it is technically still “upcoming”, An Evening With Silk Sonic’s personnel credits are available to view on streaming platform Tidal.

The track Silk Sonic Intro features background vocals from producer and songwriter Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II. 

D’Mile has collaborated with the likes of Lucky Daye and H.E.R., and earned seven Grammy Award nominations in 2020.

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What about for their live performances?

In reviews of Silk Sonic’s performance of Leave the Door Open at the Grammy Awards on 14 March – nine days after the single premiered – and of the music video itself, their backup singers typically get an honourable mention.

The Harvard Crimson included them in its writeup of the music video as “dancing in a triangle”.

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Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

In two separate pieces, Billboard wrote that the duo serenaded audiences “with the help” of “two backup singers leaning on the ivories”.

The New York Times, meanwhile, praised the “contrast of grainy lead and perfectionist backup vocals” on the single.

Who sang Silk Sonic backup at the BET Awards?

Twitter user @ReignOfApril is not alone in asking who the live performers were, providing backup vocals to Anderson and Mars.

The answer – at least, one of the answers – appears to be trombonist and singer Kameron T Whalum.

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Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Whalum has been playing in Bruno Mars’s band for a decade, after attending the New School for Jazz from 2009 to 2011.

He released his own first single, Sam, featuring Naj Murph, in September 2016.

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Bruno is a postgraduate student studying global journalism, with research interests in the intersection of the media, storytelling, culture and politics. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Packs Light and Forge Press, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com. He is a Student Ambassador for Tortoise Media, a big fan of Freddie Mercury and a novelist – his debut novel, Reveries, is available on Amazon.