A professed Southern Gothic songster based in Johnson City, TN, Amythyst Kiah’s commanding stage presence is only matched by her raw and powerful vocals—a deeply moving, hypnotic sound that stirs echoes of a distant and restless past. A graduate of East Tennessee State University, she studied old time music and music performance, and it proved to be a pivotal moment in her life as she transformed from a long-time closet musician into a well-rounded, captivating performer.
Accoutered interchangeably with banjo, acoustic guitar, or a full band (Her Chest of Glass), Amythyst’s toolbox is augmented by her scholarship of African-American roots music. Her eclectic influences span decades, drawing heavily on old time music (Mississippi Sheiks, Son House, Jimmie Rodgers, Olla Belle Reed, Carter Family), inspired by strong R&B and country music vocalists from the '50s-'70s (Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn) and influenced by contemporary artists with powerful vocal integrity (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Megan Jean and the KFB, Janelle Monae).
Recent tours in Scotland and the U.K. have seen Amythyst performing for audiences at the Americana Music Association UK Showcase, the Southern Fried Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, and SummerTyne Americana Festival. She is a crowd favorite at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in the U.S., has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.
Provocative and coolly fierce, Amythyst Kiah’s ability to cross the boundaries of blues and old-time through reinterpretation is groundbreaking and simply unforgettable.
“Kiah is an important and innovative presence in contemporary traditional music. Describing herself as a “Southern Gothic, alt-country blues singer/songwriter,” Amythyst has a repertoire that honors tradition while crossing genres to illuminate many common threads.” ~ Sam Gleaves, The Bluegrass Situation
“Though her voice is often full of fire, when she leans back and focuses on atmosphere, it creates the most exciting moments of the record.” ~ Afropunk album review for Dig
"In delivering her own mature, carefully-structured songs, Amythyst displayed the confidence to exploit her impressive vocal range without inhibition, assuming an almost spiritual presence. The tenor of her delivery held the room, with a welcome absence of audience chatter which blights so many gigs, her well-judged rhythmic percussive guitar picking the ideal accompaniment for her set."
~ David Innes, Bluesandmoreagain
"Her music sounds like it could be the musical score to any number of westerns, and yet this oversimplifies Kiah’s talent. Her voice carries the weight of the performance, sultry and soaring, controlled and defiant. . . Kiah’s voice is reminiscent of Johnny Cash, but with the energy of the Black Keys. She sings of the expected themes of the old south but with a modern twist. . ." ~ Fletcher Bonin, Rainbow Exotic Music