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WKMS Meets Kyshona, Featured Lowertown Arts & Music Festival Gospel and Roots Artist

 Kyshona performs at the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival on Friday, May 12, at 6 pm.
Yeiser Art Center
Kyshona performs at the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival on Friday, May 12, at 6 pm.

Artist, activist, therapist, and singer-songwriter Kyshona will bring her healing and empowering music to the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival stage this Friday. Austin Carter speaks to Kyshona ahead of her set about her love of music therapy, her musical approach, and what audiences can expect from her Lowertown performance.

"Before I even thought about being a songwriter, I was working as a music therapist in Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, working with people who were mainly dealing with behavioral, mental, and neurological issues. Music, for me, has always been something that was healing. I knew that recalling a song for someone experiencing dementia could bring them back to their 20s, to the present moment. To me, that's just the science of music. But then there's the heart of music."

"What I love about being a songwriter is that underneath one roof, you can have people from many different backgrounds sitting amongst one another just because they love the music and the song that an artist has written. It was during my time working in Atlanta and Athens where I was helping people find their voice and using music as a way for them to create something that they could call in a moment that they needed calming, healing, to calm their anger. That's how I started writing. Helping other people find their voice helped me remember, 'Oh yeah, I could probably use the same tools I'm teaching other people to use.' That's been the heartbeat of my music ever since."

Kyshona also started a songwriting nonprofit called Your Song in 2020, which provides one-on-one and group songwriting sessions for vulnerable communities, including children, people in recovery, and individuals saved from sex trafficking or domestic violence situations. She says that while the nonprofit started in a virtual setting during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she's since transitioned to in-person classes and now incorporates them into her touring schedule.

"Lately, I've been touring as a vocal trio," Kyshona explains when asked about her Lowertown performance. "It's me on guitar, and I have two other singers with me. It's three-part harmony. I think this is coming from my South Carolina roots. I grew up surrounded by gospel quartet music. My father played in a gospel quartet, and my grandfather did."

"People are going to experience that roots, simple, stripped-down guitar, and three voices. But the feedback we always get is that we are as impactful, if not more so, because we are so stripped down, and people can hear the words and feel the harmonies. People are going to be asked to join in singing with us, clapping along. I hope people feel they're experiencing community and walk away feeling recharged to go in their own communities and society and be a source of change in their environments."

Kyshona performs at the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival on Friday, May 12, at 6 pm. Visit her website for more information about her music and upcoming performances.

Visit the Yeiser Art Center's website for more information on the Lowertown Arts & Music Festival.

Austin Carter is a Murray State grad and has been involved with WKMS since he was in high school. Over the years he has been a producer for WKMS and has hosted several music shows, but now calls Morning Edition his home each weekday morning.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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