Tri-Cities Original: Grammy-nominated Amythyst Kiah Learns to Balance Growing Notoriety | WJHL
JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee (WJHL) – Amythyst Kiah says she’s learning.
Lately, the lesson for the Johnson City-based musician is about what it’s like to be one of America’s most talked about new artists.
Her debut album Wary + Strange and Grammy-nominated song “Black Myself” garnered national attention, including profiles in The New York Times, appearances on CBS Sunday morning, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
“For me it was a huge experience learning what to expect,” Kiah said recently in an interview with News Channel 11 at the recording studio at East Tennessee State University where she studied. studied music.
And she says that’s where she learned to find peace.
“It’s a story I wouldn’t tell until two or three years ago because I kept everything,” Kiah said. “It was my coping mechanism.”
Kiah has spoken openly about her struggles as a young African American woman who grew up in eastern Tennessee. She says she was only able to talk about one of the most difficult times in her life recently. When she was only 17, Amythyst says her mother took her own life.
Suddenly it was just her and her father.
“As you can imagine, we weren’t doing well,” Kiah said. “We weren’t doing too well. We moved to Johnson City to start over. We were just a hot mess.
Music became a haven from trauma, so when she found out that ETSU had a bluegrass, old school, and country music curriculum, she was intrigued.
“I was like – huh. Bluegrass, ”Kiah said. “I had no idea really too much about it, other than Beverly Hillbillies. It was the extent of my knowledge of bluegrass.
She jumped out of the water anyway, and immediately caught the eye.
“She worked really hard when she was here to take this instrument, develop it, take care of it and take her style with it,” said Dan Boner, program director.
At ETSU, Kiah says she learned that she deserved a place on stage in a musical genre that was not known in the past for its diversity.
“We’ve all always loved this music, but we didn’t always feel like we were welcome or belonging,” she said. “Now that others have come forward, it allows people to sing along to their truth while following a musical line that matches their spirit and who they are. “
Soon his unique style and powerful stage presence led to solo concerts. The fans followed, but so did the struggles.
“A year and a half or two years ago, I was starting to lose myself completely in the world and other people’s ideas,” she said. “And I was starting to get lost.”
Kiah says she is now well placed, hoping to return to live music events soon.
She says she will live the lessons learned; on how to live well when the crowd calls out his name.
“If you can find these people who are in your area, it really makes a difference. “
You can hear Amythyst Kiah when she performs on Saturday night on the outdoor lawn of the Sessions Hotel in Bristol, Va. At 7 pm as part of the “Road to Bristol Rhythm” summer concert series.