Amythyst Kiah discusses her career trajectory as she evolved from traditional acoustic music performer to contemporary Americana artist, and performs three songs—“Wild Turkey,” “Black Myself,” and “Hangover Blues”—from her acclaimed 2021 album, "Wary + Strange." Part of the Museum's "Live at the Hall" series, Kiah's interview and performance were taped on June 26, 2021.
A member of the Grammy-nominated group Our Native Daughters—along with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell—Kiah candidly reveals to the Museum’s Michael McCall how playing guitar and performing allowed her to express herself despite personal anxiety brought on by the suicide of her mother and by growing up Black and gay in a largely white, Christian, middle-class neighborhood in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
With the support of her father, who now works as her road manager, Kiah enrolled in bluegrass and Appalachian music studies at East Tennessee State University. Looking back, she believes part of the attraction of traditional music came from an ability to hide herself in songs she did not write and in playing banjo and acoustic guitar at an advanced level. After immersing herself in personal therapy, Kiah felt a desire to bring her feelings and experiences into her music, and she reconnected with the alternative-rock music she loved as a high school student in Chattanooga.
She cites her experience in Our Native Daughters as inspiring her to dig deeper into writing from a personal and social perspective, and she credits veteran Los Angeles producer Tony Berg, who collaborated with her on "Wary + Strange," with helping her expand her sound and experiment with musical tones and textures.
Watch a Bonus Track from Amythyst Kiah's "Live at the Hall": https://watch.countrymusichalloffame.org/videos/amythyst-kiah-bonus-track-live-at-the-hall-2021
Explore our public programming: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/plan-your-visit/exhibits-activities/public-programs/
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