Amythyst Kiah visits Nine Volt Heart

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Amythyst Kiah’s star is rising…fast. Make sure to catch her tomorrow night at Northampton’s Parlor Room with Alexa Rose.

While Amythyst’s career was going well with two independent releases,” Dig” an acoustic collection of traditional and originals and “Her Chest of Glass” which is more of a group bluesy rock sound. But it was Amythyst’s recording of Vera Hall’s “Trouble So Hard” which caught the ear of Rhiannon Giddens who invited her to open for the “Freedom Highway” tour. More recently, Amythyst Kiah was invited along with Allison Russell (from Birds of Chicago and Po’ Girls) and former Carolina Chocolate Drop associate Leyla McCalla to collaborate on a new project together.

Songs of Our Native Daughters was released on Smithsonian Folkways this year and it is astounding. The four banjo playing roots musicians visited the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture to research and investigate a collection based on slave narratives. The resulting collection is collaborative and inspiring. Amythyst leads the collection off with her penned “Black Myself” which sets the bar very high. She also cowrote a number of other songs such as the retelling of the John Henry story from the perspective of his wife Polly Ann.

Our conversation touches on her biography and her Tennessee roots, her education at ETSU in Johnson City, Tn as well as her influences such as the previously mentioned Vera Hall. We talk about the Native Daughters project as well as her upcoming solo release,”Weary and Strange”.

The songs included are “Trouble So Hard” from Amythyst and “Another Man Done Gone” from Vera Hall. We hear “Mamas Cryin’ Long”, “Black Myself” and “Polly Ann’s Hammer” from Songs of Our Native Daughters as well as a new original “Wild Turkey’ and “John Henry”.

Alexa Rose is a very talented singer songwriter and she is on the Parlor Room bill as well. A great night to see two amazing performers in a small intimate venue. Nov 11 at the Parlor Room in Northampton, Ma.

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