With her roots in South Carolina and her feet grounded in Athens, GA, Kyshona Armstrong has set off on the road of full time touring artist this past year. Independently releasing her third Album, Home Again, Kyshona has armed herself with guitar and bags to play anywhere from the bayous of Louisiana to the Minnesota Red River Valley.
“Her voice is clear and hefty, carrying a weight of fortitude that smacks through the psyche and into the gut, filling the belly with a soul-stirring resonance.”-Flagpole Magazine.
“...soul-stirring, hand-clapping and foot-stomping music is what Kyshona Armstrong gives the crowd”- Brittney Holmes, Red and Black Magazine
“Heavily influenced by the blend of bluegrass, folk, gospel and country music that played in her home as a child, Armstrong’s songwriting meshes harmonies and melodies across musical borders, unafraid to abandon conventional styles for the sake of an individualized creative process.” - Anna F. Hall, Music Journalist
Kyshona Armstrong: vocals/guitar
Paul Thorton- bass guitar/ percussion/steel pan
Dylan Clarke- drum kit/percussion
Leave Your Guns With the Usher- Classic City Collective
Track 10- Loves Left Standing (currently on 65+ radio stations around the country)
Home Again- self released
1. Home Again
2. Marry Myself
4. Back Door
5. Change Gone Come (by Sam Cooke)
6. All My Life
7. Your Love
Music- self released
1. Movin' On
7. Grandpa's Song (Had A Dream)
Sole Soul: the heart of kyshona- self released
1. Real Thang
2. Freedom Train
3. Runnin' (live!)
4. Summer Blues
5. Too Scared (live!)
6. Be Still
7. No Mistakes (living room version)
8. Climb (live!)
9. Lucky Girl
10. Grandpa's Song
Musician Kyshona Armstrong pushes on toward her future
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Kyshona Armstrong looks forward to a few lonely months on the road with her guitar. The isolation is...Kyshona Armstrong looks forward to a few lonely months on the road with her guitar. The isolation is all part of her dream.
And she is serious about fulfilling dreams and goals. About two years ago, the Athens soul artist set out to take her music career to the next level. Armstrong quit her full-time job as a music therapist and put together her own tour -- she traveled all around the Midwest playing her music.
Now, she has bigger goals in mind.
"The funny thing is, two years ago I said all I wanted to do was tour the country and play music," she said. "I didn't realize I'm actually doing it now. I've reached this goal, so now I've got to keep reaching higher. I'd like to get some radio play."
Well, she's already accomplished that one, too. Armstrong is part of the Classic City Collective, a supergroup that formed as a praise team at the Classic City Community Church. After a few favorable write-ups in Gospel magazines, the group is now having songs from its album, "Leave Your Guns with the Usher," played on radio stations across the country.
Like everyone else in the collective, Armstrong has her own project. This spring, she released her album "Home Again" online and soon will begin selling physical copies of it. She thought she needed some actual copies to sell on the road.
Starting later this month, the road will take her farther from home than she's ever been. She'll play concerts as far west as California, as south as Texas and as North as Maine.
"It'll be just me and my guitar going from spot to spot, but this is my dream," Armstrong said. "It's no one else's, but it's mine. I'm ready to spread my wings and see parts of the country that I've never seen."
After a four-month nationwide tour, Armstrong plans to keep expanding her reach. She'd like to play some shows in the United Kingdom and maybe a few across Europe. She figured now is as good a time as ever -- she's not married, has no children and has a cat she can leave with her parents.
She hopes to work more in the future with the Classic City Collective. The church outfit stands out, she said, because everyone in it is so different.
There is room for jazz, country, rock and soul influences and sounds.
Armstrong also still squeezes in some time for music therapy. These days, she spends most of her time at nursing homes and at the geriatrics unit at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.
"That's a nice break for me," she said. "I get to play music and talk to old people, which is great because they always have some great stories."
Armstrong wants to write her own tale, one that may end in world domination, she jokes -- or perhaps she's serious. Either way, she's ready to hit the road and keep chasing her goals.
"This is it -- my dream, no regrets," she said. "I wanted to give myself a year to do the music thing and see what happens. Now that year is up, and I get the feeling I'm supposed to keep going."
Exploring Music as Therapy
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On Sunday mornings, Kyshona Armstrong brings tears to the eyes of her audience. Every week, without ...On Sunday mornings, Kyshona Armstrong brings tears to the eyes of her audience. Every week, without fail, she belts out contemporary hymns of faith and glory from the Classic City Community Church stage with a zeal and passion that could make even the most cynical critic reconsider the idea of the divine. Her voice is clear and hefty, carrying a weight of fortitude that smacks through the psyche and into the gut, filling the belly with a soul-stirring resonance.
But it is not just on Sunday mornings that Armstrong declares her presence. On a consistent basis, the singer can be found offering her craft to Classic City listeners. Recently, she and her band—Kyshona and the Boys, with guest star Justin Reynolds—opened for John French and the Bastilles at a lively show at the Melting Point. And every Monday evening, Armstrong can be found hosting the new Open Mic Night at Hendershot's Coffee Bar, a showcase of ever-rotating talent that ends the night by awarding one singer-songwriter a prize and a night headlining the venue. Just as enthusiastically as she announces the singers and presents the line-up, Armstrong, too, offers the crowd a taste of her own talents by singing her songs between sets.
“Kyshona is one of the most talented people I have ever heard, for sure,” says Hendershot's owner Seth Hendershot. “We’re so lucky to have her hosting on Mondays. Athens is lucky to have her here, too.”
Armstrong first arrived in Athens as an undergrad student at UGA (majoring in the oboe, of all things). This was followed by short stints in a few other cities, but eventually the now 30-year-old was called back here, working as a music therapist for at-risk youth before taking on music as her full-time job this year—a transition, she says, that has been a satisfying challenge.
“It’s not easy, you know, doing this full-time; things get tight,” Armstrong says. “But it’s working. I’m making it work, and it’s really rewarding. I just felt like I needed to be selfish, just for a year, do this for myself.”
That leap of faith has led her to some parts of the country she never expected to go—especially with a soul-funk grove in tow. Places like South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa. Places known for cherishing Americana and questioning the unfamiliar, which her music, she admits, can be.
Heavily influenced by the blend of bluegrass, folk, gospel and country music that played in her home as a child, Armstrong’s songwriting messes harmonies and melodies across musical borders, unafraid to abandon conventional styles for the sake of an individualized creative process.
“I didn’t know how to describe my genre,” she says. “Some of my friends like to call me neo-soul, but even that doesn’t encompass all of what I play. No one seems able to really just sum it up, including me. I don’t think it can be boxed into one category. I just play what I feel.”
The one label that can be placed on Armstrong’s music is "personal." All of her songs come from her own experiences or the retelling of experiences of her friends. “Deep,” a hallmark piece Armstrong performs at every show, tells the story of a friend who suddenly died, marking the first time Armstrong had ever experienced the loss of someone close o her.
Other songs give voice to Armstrong’s reflection on what life would be like if she were in another person’s shoes, taking a friend's personal story and telling it from her own perspective. And though Armstrong admits that she has never been in love (“Nope, hasn’t happened yet. One day I hope it will, but right now, I am more worried with just loving myself,” she says), her works often perfectly portray the great joy of having a partner or the devastating heartache of a break-up.
“I love telling stories, even when they are not mine,” Armstrong says. “When someone comes up to you after a show and tells you how much a song touched them, it is just such a great feeling. I had one woman tell me after a show that she didn’t know the words I was singing, but the way the song sounded…that was exactly how she felt and she was moved to tears. It’s not that I want to make people cry, but sometimes, you know, you just need a good cry.”
AthFest Review: Kyshona Armstrong Turns Up The Heat
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There has to be a good reason for anyone to stand outside in the blistering hot sun on any given Sat...There has to be a good reason for anyone to stand outside in the blistering hot sun on any given Saturday afternoon, and Athfest alone may not make the cut for most people. But include a fantastic singer and a soul and funk-popping band backing her up and you have six reasons to stand up and rock to the beat while baking under the blistering hot sun.
Forty minutes of soul-stirring, hand-clapping and foot-stomping music is what Kyshona Armstrong and her five band mates gave the crowd as the sun rose to its peak on Saturday afternoon.
After being at Athfest for a couple of hours, what impressed me the most was that unlike some of the other outdoor concerts, Armstrong was able to pull in a larger crowd. Some people found shaded ground to rest in, but most stood right in front of the stage without any way to cool down as Armstrong and her band turned up the heat at Athfest.
Her acoustic guitar, mixed with the heavy beat of the drums, the funky strum of the bass and backup guitar and the cooling sounds of the steel pan took the audience through funk, soul, R&B and even to the Islands for a little taste of reggae.
The crowd forgot about the heat as they moved from their seats and became engaged in the music. At one point, one man with long blond hair, turned his chest into a makeshift drum set and tapped his hands down the span of his torso as he bounced around nonstop throughout the entire set. Mothers held their children in the air and allowed them to move to the beats.
There wasn’t a person who was not dancing, clapping, or vigorously shaking their bodies to the storyteller’s music.
Armstrong believed the show went extremely well, having performed 7 songs full of engaging stories that took the singer, her band members and the audience back to the yesteryear of music. It was definitely worth weathering the heat and getting a little tanned to hear this soulful singer pour out her soul, leaving a piece of herself with those in attendance.
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"To hear a performane by Kyshona is to get lost in the simple beauty of the real experiences of life..."To hear a performane by Kyshona is to get lost in the simple beauty of the real experiences of life," ~ Luci Butler, keyboardist for Moby.
"A beautiful songwriter and a big talent," ~ Jim, Redlight Cafe
Open Mic Madness
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The Press is Writing.... Southeast Performer Magazine December 2005 Issue Shawn Haney- Writer ...The Press is Writing....
Southeast Performer Magazine
December 2005 Issue
Shawn Haney- Writer
Open Mic Madness
Smith's Olde Bar
Open Mic Madness at Smith's Olde Bar in Decatur took off a few months later than usual this year. The annual six night contest featured 128 bands and artists.
Host and brainchild of the event, Josh Rifkind shined every night and day of this week-long affair, winning over the audience with his wit and charm.
The final four bands and remaining four solo artists stormed through the week with scintillating and thrilling performances, advancing to rounds five, six and seven Saturday evening. Dented, a power trio, brought the artillery with them, shredding out an intense performance after humbly taking the stage. At one point, the lead singer exclaimed, “Thanks so much! This has been the best week of our lives.” It certainly was equally memorable for those of us who felt both the magic and the madness this week. Their song was full of wit with poetic lyrics, searing drum rolls and a pulsating base line.
Could Georgia, a southern classic rock quintet, ruin the party? Effortlessly captivating the crowd with their smooth, laid back attitude, generating music owing much to the influences of southern rock heroes the Allman Brothers, Georgia spilled out their lush vocals, charming lead guitars and good old southern rock vibe helped by their sharp trio of backing vocals. In the end, it was Georgia advancing. They brought the house down with their sheer stage presence, their well-defined southern rock roots style and a convincingly crafty song, complete with a pianist-frontman in John Cougar Mellencamp/Axl Rose tradition.
Morning State did their best to dazzle the crowd and judges with their dreamy, serenading to-the Milky Way chorus, with spacey and heavily delayed guitars and steady percussion. Their singer was as cool and relaxed as a secret agent after a few martinis, shaken, not stirred. Morning State was compelling, yet this four piece could not equal or top the magic and hauntingly beautiful artistry of Sovus Radio, who blazed through another round, winning over their rapidly forming fan base with four minutes of experimental rock, tempo changes and enough mind-gripping pschydelia to bring a swirling circus like feel to every amazed set of hears.
In the solo artist category, two females of quiet peace and significant talent stole the show at least for a little while. KYSHONA ARMSTRONG GAVE AN ENDEARING PERFORMANCE WITH A SIMPLE, YET CONVINCING SONG THAT CONVEYED A SINCERE MESSAGE: "A DREAM TO FIND ONESELF AND YOUR PURPOSE." SHE WAS CHARMING, AND FULL OF LIFE, CHARASMATIC, SOULFUL AND UPLIFTING. SHE HAD THE AUDIENCE ENGAGED.
However, Abby Owens did even better, churning out a sad, melancholy tune with a confident and clear vocal delivery. Her bluesy, raspy voice was breathtaking and unforgettable, with her potential star quality high on the scale of future music success. Ota cm be hard for a singer to genuinely deliver the emotions of hurt, pain and loss effectively enough in a song and yet, with complete ease. Owens succeeded.
For seventeen year old Spencer Durham, his confidence and youthful charm complete with a compelling voice of the blues and crafty, ahead-of-his-time songwriting won over many fans, not to mention the hearts of the ladies. His “Super Like a Nova” song was simple with the shouted chorus “You’re So Fine”. Michael Levine did all he could to steal the limelight away from Durham, but his courageous and passionate rendition of “Breakdown” wasn’t enough, as fans of Durham continued to call out his name. It would be Abby Owens, Spencer Durham, Georgia, and Sovus Radio who would go on to the finals.
Georgia won the coin toss to go first, and delivered a purely enjoyable southern rock song, dedicated to their vision of “lazy weather”. Emotionally compelling, touching style and punctuated with passionate guitar solos and dazzling piano work, the song worked magnificently well. Would they have the fire to outlast the youth of experimental rock or would Sovus Radio douse their burning fires within?
Sovus Radio brought with them their weirdness, their wit, their charisma, passion, and exceptionally hip fashion senses to perform a completely new song. Both Spencer Durham and Abby Owens gave stirring efforts, bearing their courage, heart and character in equal fashion. Durham performed a simple, yet effective blues song. His youthful mannerisms, wild hair and vocal approach spelled pure fun.
Yet it was Abby Owens, who all week showed why she would be considered a finalist. Owens can really write a song and she knows it. Her undeniably rich voice was golden in the clutch. No matter what the song, or what key, her voice, range and delivery was always clear, cutting through the air and captivating listeners from the very first row to the last.
Sovus Radio was the winner and Abby Owns the runner-up. This was truly a week of magic, fun and miracles. While the winners were quite talented, some of the best musicians in the city were on display at this annual event.
Shawn Haney - Southeast Performer Dec. 2005 (Dec 1, 2005)
Kyshona Armstrong: Artist of the Week
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Visit this website for my television coverage on Georgia Life and Style: http://www.youtube.com/w...Visit this website for my television coverage on Georgia Life and Style:
Hip-hop homecoming planners hope to show city what it's missing Hip-hop homecoming planners hope to show city what it's missing
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Tuesday kicks off the Hip-Hop Homecoming, an annual event presented by Athfactor Entertainment that ...Tuesday kicks off the Hip-Hop Homecoming, an annual event presented by Athfactor Entertainment that focuses on pushing the local hip-hop scene to the forefront of the community's attention and exposing a mélange of local entertainers.
Performers featured range from local emcees like Chief Rocka and Ms. Selecta, to Atlanta-based hip-hop artists Nasaya, to neo-soul singer Kyshona Armstrong and local poetry slamming talent Celeste "Devine" Ngeve.
It's commonly agreed the local urban music scene could always benefit from more exposure. For the constant influx of new college-age hip-hop fans, navigating around Athens' competing music scenes can be hard enough.
Local emcee Chief Rocka assures hip-hop in town is alive and well.
"It's very active even though it gets pushed to the background because of the rock and indie scene," he said. "But all you have to do is pick up your local paper and see what's going on."
This year's Hip-Hop Homecoming, now in its third year, will keep things fresh by branching out beyond sounds exclusive to the Dirty South.
"The lineup is a lot more diverse," says Chief Rocka. "A little South, a little East and a little West. Usually there's only one genre of hip-hop represented." As to where Chief Rocka falls on the hip-hop compass: "I'm holding it up for the East - I play a lot of old school," he says.
Chief Rocka will help launch the Homecoming week Tuesday night at Tasty World's "Tasty Tuesday," held the second Tuesday of every month. The evening includes a song battle competition with a cash prize, DJs and an after-party.
Chief Rocka also will headline Thursday night at Tasty World, spinning a mix of hip-hop, soul, R&B, reggae and Top 40, he says.
Local female DJ Ms. Selecta is new to the Athfactor Entertainment family. While she attended the event last year, she admits she "just had a little taste of it. But then I started going to the weekly poetry event at Diverse Universe where I met Celeste Devine, and I've been involved ever since," she says.
Ms. Selecta coordinated Wednesday night's "Women of Hip-Hop" showcase at Diverse Universe, where she will spin and enjoy the talents of Nasaya, Armstrong and many other talented hip-hop influenced chanteuses and mic-smiths.
Many performers are a part of the local Dreaded Mindz family, a collective of local poets, musicians and community activists that holds court every Wednesday at "Poetic Confessionz," an event held at Diverse Universe as well.
Ms. Selecta contends the homecoming is especially important this year because "kids need to know that hip-hop is more than what you see on TV and hear on the radio. Hip-hop needs to be more exposed, especially more positive hip-hop," she says. "It's especially important this year with everything that's happening in the world - we're just trying to remind people to keep a positive attitude."
Soul songstress Armstrong couldn't agree more.
"Hip-hop in Athens hasn't received the attention that it should, but the community is becoming more aware," Armstrong says. "It's time for people to wake up and listen to what's going on in their community and listen to what people are saying."
Armstrong relocated to Athens from Atlanta just a year ago to take a job as a music therapist at Rutland Academy. She's been performing since 2005. "In Atlanta, it was harder to do music. It was easy to get lost. Athens is tighter-knit. You can just walk downtown anytime and see what's happening."
While her own music isn't hip-hop, she says there aren't a lot of soul singers that incorporate spoken poetry into their music. "What I talk about is part of the hip-hop culture," she says.
This year's homecoming - with its slogan "Peace, Love, Unity and Having Fun" - offers a thorough sampling of hip-hop culture through a variety of music and community-oriented events.
When it's not showcasing local musical talent, homecoming will endeavor to bring people together through dance nights, mixers, before and after parties for the Talib Kweli concert Saturday at the Georgia Theatre, bowling and Jamaican food and barbecue. Several events are free and cover charges range from $3-5.
Chief Rocka encourages everyone to "come out and support us and the hip-hop culture."
If you go...
Hip-Hop Homecoming events
• Tasty Tuesday: Put Up or Shut Up
What: Song battle and after-party, hosted by Mathmatikal Radikal, music by Chief Rocka and Ms. Selecta
When: Doors open at 9, song battle at 11 p.m.
Where: Tasty World, 312 E. Broad St.
Cost: Free ($15 entry fee for song battle contestants)
Call: (706) 543-0797
• Women of Hip-Hop Showcase
Featuring Nasaya, with special performances by Kyshona Armstrong, Celeste "Devine" Ngeve, Empress Malaa'ika, Miss Unyque and Mia Smith
When: Doors 8 p.m., show 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Diverse Universe, 213B Tallahassee Road
Cost: $3 general admission
• "Roots of HIp-Hop: It all began in Jamaica"
What: Meet n' Greet Mixer. Enjoy Jamaican food!
When: 6-10 p.m. Thursday
Where: Kelly's Jamaican Food, 1583 S. Lumpkin St.
• The Hip-Hop Barbecue
What: Pre- and after-party for the Talib Kweli show at the Georgia Theatre
When: Pre-party 2 p.m.; after party 2 a.m. Saturday
Where: The Doom Room, 309 Highland Park Drive
Cost: $5 cover, food included, vegetarian friendly
• Hip-Hop Bowling
What: Family Day mixer, all are welcome
When: 4-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19
Where: Kingpin Bowl and Brew, 2451 Jefferson Road
Call: (706) KINGPIN
More information: www.myspace.com/athfactormusic
Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Saturday, October 11, 2008
GSPA Opening Session Entertainment
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GSPA is very happy to have Kyshona and The Guys perform the second annual GSPA concert at the op...GSPA is very happy to have Kyshona and The
Guys perform the second annual GSPA concert
at the opening session of the 2008 GSPA Confer-
Growing up in the suburbs of Irmo, South Caro-
lina, Kyshona discovered her love of music sitting
in the back pew getting chill bumps during the
Not really thinking she was one born with a
voice, Kyshona picked up the piano as a means
to express herself.
Along the way, oboe and percussion came into play but it was hearing her father’s guitar day in and day
out that planted a seed. She fell in love with the raw sound of guitar and voice listening to her grandfa-
ther, aunts and uncles gather in the name of music during the holidays. Their honest voices and har-
monies gave her a deep sense of her roots. It was through her professsion that Kyshona discovered her
voice. Working as a music therapist with young men in the prison system and terminal hospital patients
she discovered that her voice could convey more to and for her clients than mere words ever would.
After years of using her voice and music to express feelings for others, Kyshona used
her voice and music to express the feelings of her soul. The release of her debut album, “Sole Soul: the
heart of kyshona” has put Kyshona Armstrong in front of many audiences throughout the south east.
Her soulful, honest voice along with her percussive guitar style will take a fan from a neo soul groove
to thought provoking folk ballad. This year, Kyshona has expanded her sound, joining forces with
fellow UGA grads and Athens residents, Dylan Clark and Paul Thorton. With Dylan and Paul on her
side, Kyshona and The Guys have expanded their sound from Acoustic Folk Soul to a percussion heavy,
You can see when Kyshona and The Guys will be playing by visiting www.myspace.com/kyshona.
Influences: Nina Samone, Bonnie Rait, Jill Scott, India.Arie, Etta James, Doria Roberts, Eva Cassidy
Repertoire can cover a 4 hour set or 4 fourty-five minute sets with a 15 minute break in between.
A Repertoire of original songs for an 1hour 30min to 2 hr set.
Typically cover roots/blues, motown, nina samone, tracy chapman, TLC, nikka costa, peter gabriel and some classic rock tunes. Can also include a repertoire of Big Band, folk and country tunes from the 1900's to 1960's