After a stellar performance opening up for Brandi Carlile at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York, Amythyst Kiah brought her soulful voice to Malvern, Pennsylvania for a drive-in concert at People’s Light’s Folk Weekend.
Kiah played an array of songs from her critically acclaimed new record Wary + Strange, while also incorporating old tracks from her first album that was released back in 2013. She opened with “Hangover Blues,” a song Kiah said was about a partying phase she had in her late 20s. She followed it up with “Firewater” which acts as the second half to the same narrative: Getting out of that party phase.
Before every song, Kiah made sure to interact with the audience and explain what each one was written about, making the crowd feel as if they were involved in the show and not just observing from the sidelines. Kiah explained that “Sleeping Queen” was written in 2016 after a tumultuous year and struggling with insomnia. She also spoke about her track “Black Myself” and how it was originally done by the group Our Native Daughters made up of Kiah, Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russel. She explained that being in that group helped her find her voice musically.
Before she sang “Wild Turkey,” a track that acted as one of the lead singles for the new record, Kiah made a point to discuss mental health and how conversations around mental health need to happen in order to get rid of the stigma surrounding it.
She covered “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead and “Natural Blues” by Moby. She closed with her rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” a song she used to play with fellow classmates at East Tennessee State University.
Throughout the 90 minute set, Amythyst Kiah showed off her musicianship as she stunned the crowd with only her evocative vocals and a guitar in her hand. Her powerful performance and artistry gave her a well-deserved standing ovation, loud applause, and the celebratory sound of car horns.
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