For Kyshona Armstrong, creating music isn’t just a form of expression, it’s also a way of seeing the world.
And the Nashville-based singer-songwriter who performs using just her first name is bringing that worldview to Alaska’s capital city, as well as other parts of the state.
“I’m always amazed by the places that songs and a guitar can take me,” Kyshona said. “Every year I continue on this mission as a singer-songwriter and spreading this message of inclusion and love, it’s just amazing to me how I continuously am shown how much further I can take this.”
In the Crystal Saloon’s continuing efforts to bring new and exciting musical talents to Juneau, booking manager Taylor Vidic has teamed up with Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, Anchorage’s Parlor in the Round and the Denali Arts Council of Talkeetna to bring Kyshona with bandmates Nickie Conley and Shannon LaBrie to the Crystal on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through jahc.na.ticketsearch.com/sales/salesevent/14771 or crystalsaloon.com/shows/kyshona.
According to Vidic, she’s especially excited to see the connections made among various music organizations in Alaska because the unity and collaborations are what make bringing touring artists to Southeast possible in the first place.
“We’re also getting support from a Harper Arts Touring grant,” Vidic said. “All three organizations, (Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, Anchorage’s Parlor in the Round and the Denali Arts Council of Talkeetna) are all going into that grant together and that covers a hefty portion of the travel, which is huge.”
Vidic said she was contacted by Kevin Worrell, host and founder of Parlor in the Round, which is Anchorage’s songwriter game show that’s been hosted at the Bear Tooth Theatre Pub for the last 10 years. Described as a songwriting showcase with a twist, Worrell features two local Alaskan artists with a nationally touring artist through the winter concert season.
Worrell said he first learned about Kyshona through her agent over a year ago, but it’s been challenging to find a break in her busy schedule since her sudden popularity after a performance at Mountain Stage, West Virginia’s popular music showcase distributed by NPR music.
“What sold it for me was listening to her lyrics and understanding more about her stated mission to be the voice of the unheard,” Worrell said. “It’s clear in her lyrics that she’s on a mission to be a voice for people, and when I did a little more research, I started to understand this compassion at activism that she does through her songwriting work and through her nonprofit called Your Song because on top of all of this stuff she’s a licenced therapist. Her performance career and her music therapist work really overlaps when she tours, she does a lot of community outreach, and all of that together is what really made me understand that this was the right artist for us.”
In addition to her performance at the Crystal Saloon, Kyshona will also be teaching two workshops with her bandmates at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School earlier on Wednesday. Afterward, Kyshona will be performing in Talkeetna on Friday and then Parlor in the Round on Saturday night, which will also feature Daniel Firmin, lately of Juneau.
Kyshona said the workshops focus on giving students the opportunity to ask questions of professional artists regarding what their personal journey has been like. Additionally, Kyshona said she looks forward to learning more about the culture and community within Juneau, as well as sharing her artistic process with students and audiences alike.
“I write music of the people and for the people,” Kyshona said. “I’m writing from my own experiences, I’m writing from conversations I’ve had we people who are dealing with heavy things like recovery or coming out of incarceration, there’s a humanity I feel to the music that I do and how I write and approach it and I hope people can feel that, so it’s more than just a nice listening experience, it’s an opportunity to really reflect and think on how we can walk about the world as more loving people.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.