Amythyst Kiah is a Southern Gothic, alt-country blues singer-songwriter who has found a way to fuse traditional roots music with a contemporary style that does not take away from the integrity of the original song, and transforms them into powerful, soulful renditions. She draws heavily on old time music (Mississippi Sheiks, Son House, Roscoe Holcombe, Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers), and is inspired by vocal stylings of R&B and country music from the ’50s-’70s (Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn). She also draws from contemporary popular artists who have similar powerful vocal integrity (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Megan Jean and the KFB, Janelle Monae, Bonnie Raitt). Most people have a difficult time describing her sound, but she defines it simply as “southern roots music.” Her sound on her new album, Dig, is raw and sparse, with heavy lyrical content regarding such themes as loss, betrayal, and murder. She is a 2012 graduate of East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program and is based out of Johnson City, TN, which has been her permanent residence for nearly a decade. She is a regular performer in what is known as the Tri-Cities (Bristol, TN/VA, Johnson City, TN, Kingsport, TN) and in various parts of Southwest Virginia. She has opened for such acts as Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, The Duhks, Megan Jean and the KFB, and she played the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival 2012 alongside the Ebony Hillbillies and Sparky and Rhonda Rucker. She has also performed on Music City Roots, and in Scotland. (Photo Credit: Anna Hedges at Anna Hedges Photography)
While you’re at the Museum, check out some of the great exhibits they have up. Their case exhibit, Hey America! Eastern North Carolina and the Birth of Funk, features seven items associated with James Brown and some Tar Heel musicians who worked with him. The exhibit is on view through Sunday, February 28, 2016, in the museum lobby. Admission is free. And on Jan. 16, 2016, they opened Made Especially for you by Willie Otey Kay. For more than six decades, Willie Otey Kay transformed dreams into dresses. The esteemed Raleigh designer overcame hardship and transcended racial boundaries to create a successful business. Step into a world of satin and sequins to discover the woman behind the fashion.