The Sonic and Existential Transformation of Amythyst Kiah


When people talk about artists like Aretha Franklin, St. Vincent, Paul Brady and Sam Cooke, they tend to talk about these artists’ best known work, their music that came after their formative years. For Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke, her Columbia Records sides and his time in The Soul Stirrers tend to get glossed over. For the casual fan, who remembers that St. Vincent got her start in The Polyphonic Spree, or that Paul Brady once was known as a Celtic artist? In the years to come, look for a similar phenomenon with Amythyst Kiah.

This is not to minimize the work she has already released, which includes two fine records of songs ranging from covers of classics like “Grinnin’ In Your Face” to her own originals like “Fake Plastic Trees”, and of course her award-winning stint in the roots music supergroup Our Native Daughters. Those are all well worth celebrating, but in the long run they just might be considered the prologue to a much larger story. Five or ten years from now, most people that hear the name Amythyst Kiah may likely think of her forthcoming album Wary + Strange as the launching point of her career.

Amythyst Kiah performs at the  No Contact Concert  Series 08/22/20

Amythyst Kiah performs at the No Contact Concert Series 08/22/20

Thanks to Amythyst Kiah for sharing her time with us, and for being on the show. Thanks to you for dropping by, and I hope you might reach out to someone you know who is a fan of Amythyst Kiah or Our Native Daughters, or who might be, and let them know about this podcast. You can subscribe to the series on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn, Pandora, NPR One — most every platform where you can find podcasts. And once you subscribe, it helps even more when you give it a good rating and a review. Spreading awareness by giving this series a top rating, and even more so with a review, will make Southern Songs and Stories and the artists it profiles more likely to be found by more people just like you. Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. Thanks to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on public radio WNCW, where we worked with Joshua Meng, who wrote and performed our theme songs. This is Southern Songs and Stories: the music of the South and the artists who make it. – Joe Kendrick

Songs heard in this episode:

“Darlin’ Corey” by Amythyst Kiah from Dig, excerpt

“Trouble So Hard” by Amythyst Kiah from Amythyst Kiah & Her Chest Of Glass, excerpt

“Black Myself” by Amythyst Kiah from Wary + Strange