Vocalists and off-Broadway actress Whitney Keaton knew singer and songwriter RAII was the one for her. It was confirmed when RAII heard a voice in church say, “That’s your wife.” And in August of 2010, they became husband and wife. And now, once you see them on stage together, it’s evident that they were destined to be together. Their love for music and each other has allowed them to sing with Alicia Keys, Chrisette Michele, and Emeli Sandé, just to name a few.
We had a chance to chat with RAII (which stands for Rhythm. Alternative. Instrumental. Inspirational.) and Whitney, as they shared the greatest lesson marriage has taught them, and how they became a “package deal” thanks to singer Estelle.
BMWK: How did you two meet?
RAII: We met in Whitney’s hometown of Champaign, Ill.. where I attended the University of Illinois in 2002. We became good friends over our similar tastes in music and developed a genuine friendship. Our respect and admiration of each other as vocalists grew as our friendship grew.
Whitney: Yes, [it was] during the first album release event for the Gospel group I was in. RAII was joining. He was the new guy. During our down time during rehearsals and while traveling to and from performances, we would share headphones and listen to some of our favorite artists.
BMWK: How did you realize you met the one?
Whitney: Well, I grew to love him before he recognized it, but I was patient and valued the process of our friendship. I can’t say I knew for certain until he expressed to me that I was his soul mate, which showed me that his feelings were more than mutual and his intentions were clear he wanted to move towards forever.
RAII: Before we started dating, we were at a church service, and there was a high moment of worship. I remember looking over at Whitney (who was in her own moment of worship). In the midst of that, I heard a voice say, “That is your wife.” I dismissed it at first because we were “just friends.”
BMWK: RAII, how did you propose to Whitney?
RAII: We headlined Champaign/Urbana Day in Illinois in 2009. We performed as two separate artists, each scheduled to perform one hour sets to close out the performances. Whitney performed her set, and then I took the stage, and she joined my two background singers to support me.
The day was running long, so by the time I got up to perform, the sponsors decided to cut my short set while I was performing. They cut my sound during one of my last songs, and I finished singing acapella without a mic or music. Once I finished the song, I called Whitney over to hold my hand as we thanked everyone for coming out and for their love and support.
As I was completing my thank-yous, I spoke about how important it is to cherish people who you love and to express that love openly, and I got down on my knee and proposed to Whitney in her hometown in front of both of our families and friends and community.
Whitney: Yeah, I was oblivious. I was just smiling, nodding my head, agreeing with him, thanking everyone and I felt my arm go down. I looked to my right to see why, and he’s no longer standing but on his knee, face wet, holding a box with a ring, asking me to marry him. Soon after being shocked, my lips started shaking, and I had the ugly face from crying (laughs). I said “yes;” he put the ring on, then stood up and hugged me.
See them sing at their reception below
BMWK: When did you both realize you could sing?
Whitney: My mom says I’ve been singing since I could talk. Music was and has played a major role in my life. Singing was just something I’ve always done with my family, in the church choir, in chorus during junior high and high school. It’s something that I’ve been encouraged to do since I could speak.
RAII: My mom says I’ve been singing since I could talk as well. I do remember singing as a child in church and that is where I began to realize the true impact of music. I sang through junior high, high school and college.