Thanks to Rob Green with our Program Team for giving us a peek at the performance of Kyshona Armstrong who will be on the Kroc Center stage on March 22 for our TEDxGreenville conference.
In the world of artists and live performances, it’s easy to “like” anything but harder to leave feeling likeyou…well…truly FELT something. I would know. As a self professed live music aficionado (read: dork), I have seen/heard many gigs that were very good in the moment but became mentally invisible beyond the drive home.
After an artist had to cancel at a venue I’d booked her into, she informed me that she had someone who could fill the slot. “Sure”, I thought. I’ve had the filler act before only to be undelightfully surprised by the open-mic caliber hacker. In most cases we simply gut it out and move on. I clicked the link to Kyshona’s music and realized I was several neighborhoods away from open mic. I was impressed, but then it occurred to me I would have trouble describing the genre. Was it blues? Country? Soul? Maybe that’s what made it so cool. Think Aretha meets Alison Krauss with Norah Jones as a stepchild. We knew she had the gift.
Most would assume she would take this gift, develop it, and hit the stage, which she did, but Kyshona is also one of the lucky ones who has gone beyond the stage and found a way to use her gift in a non-traditional way. She’s a Music Therapist. She had an early love for both music and psychology but didn’t think there was a way to combine the two until she met a Music Therapist in Columbia SC. After graduating from the University of Georgia, she set out to use her new found combination to help make adifference in the lives of others.
Kyshona now assembles the pieces of live performance into a therapeutic process that helps a wide range of people. From infants, to inmates, to the elderly and to autistic children, she makes a profound impact on the lives of these patients. (And I thought that I was the only one she’d made an impact on!) That impact is achieved through a complex mix of genres. Turns out, her sound is more diverse than an 80’s Benetton ad. As eclectic as the mix of people she works with, her music is a powerful blend of bluegrass, country, and soul that may not make sense untilyou hear it. The vocals are heavy and pronounced, the tunes have a message without being preachy, but, even then, you may still find yourself requesting a witness during songslike “Home Again”. Heck, everyone needs a witness, am I right? Live, she provides a musical fourth
dimension and reminds you why her other job is music therapist.
I’m not entirely sure that she doesn’t “treat” her audience at every show. Come to think of it, I DID feel better afterwards. Hmmm, Therapy. Is that a genre? It is now. Oh, about that witness……….