Kim Kenny, My Music. My Story.
Words by Auboni Hart
Kim Kenny is a singer, songwriter, vocal coach, educator and founder of Indy Urban Youth, which connects art and diversity in creative ways.
Favorite Music. Go.
Kim Kenny has no solid answer because it is SO eclectic. Her roots are in gospel music, so she loves gospel. Soul, though, is the “funky cousin of gospel music,” so they go hand in hand. She loves classical music as well, but is a jazz fanatic. The spectrum of her music listening is wide reaching, so to ask her for one favorite is almost like asking her for a label when she is not to be placed in a box.
The Meaning of Music
“Music is my everything. Music is an expression of my identity. Music is an expression of my personality. Music is my retreat, it’s my complete retreat. Music is my livelihood.”
Music is joy. Music is a place where she feels most comfortable. It provides an escape and an outlet of true self-expression. If Kenny isn’t rocking the stage with her piano or gracing the audience with her voice, then she is educating and uplifting the kids who are part of her local organization, Indy Urban Youth, or providing vocal lessons to the eager vocalist.
The Influence of Music – From the views of a mother, student, educator, and vocalist
As a Mother
Music is life, so from the womb, Kim Kenny had her daughter submerged in music. Now that she is older, Kenny continues to pump music through her daughter’s veins because music teaches people, even her daughter. From lyrics to harmonies, what is heard is teaching something about the world, sharing an emotion, leaving a message. Music is expression and she encourages her daughter to express and to be, unapologetically.
As a Student
She wants to get lost in her studies. A graduate student at Butler University’s School of Music, Kim Kenny has immersed herself beneath the waters of classical music and lets the music guide her heart and her desire to be better. Whether that is a better vocalist, a better educator, or a better administrator, she never stops seeking knowledge to know and to share.
As an Educator
Kim Kenny uses music to impact the next generation of musicians, vocalists, or composers. Mixing her love of music with her passion for the youth, Kim Kenny founded Indy Urban Youth, a local youth organization that encourages students to be “a voice in the sound of the future.” Here young vocalists can hone and share their gifts with the world, develop leadership skills, practice teamwork, and pursue excellence.
As a Vocalist
It’s no secret that Kim Kenny is a musician whose music tells a story. From bountiful tales of her love interests to tea-worthy talks of her feelings, Kim Kenny’s music has a way of speaking to the soul and carrying you through a journey. Even when she isn’t performing original pieces, the songs Kenny chooses to cover must be songs she can identify with because music she can embody is music the listeners can feel.
The Intersection of Music and other Artforms
Teaching is an art, a craft. There are many teachers that know the content well, but do not know how to engage the students and community. Learning from this, Kim Kenny takes the cross between music and teaching and creates a space for students across race, gender, and vocal style to live a life of diversity, leadership, and appreciation for music and members of the community, including their parents/guardians. In other words, Kim Kenny doesn’t only teach music, but character development, community awareness and impact, and the importance of diversity and inclusion. By focusing on teaching outside of music within music, she has become a better educator who can better relate to people, while blending her passion with her mastery.
A Lifetime of Music
Kim Kenny grew up in the choir of her father’s church. She had been singing gospel her whole life and wanted to study music in college. Colleges are classically music driven and teach mostly western music history, so prior to attending college, her vocal coach, Italian opera singer, Ms. Rabb, trained Kenny in high school. This was the first time Kenny had been exposed to classical music and she fell in love with it. During this time, she learned to breathe as a vocalist, the different vocal techniques, and the rigor and discipline needed to be a trained vocalist.
Later Kim Kenny was accepted to Marion university where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree. While much of her education was spent learning and performing classical music, she remained a student to all forms of music – jazz, R&B, gospel. There are techniques to all forms of music, therefore a classical trained vocalist is not the peak in the hierarchy of music. Different musical styles require different musical talents and Kim Kenny loves the little things that make each style unique.
Food for Thought
Kim Kenny wants to impress on people the desire to be who they are called to be, unapologetically. She leaves us with this quote that pushes love, encouragement, and selflessness.
“Do what you are called to do. Unapologetically. Love and show love with the same type of vigor. The world needs more love and compassion. That doesn’t mean be a pushover, but be empathetic, help one another. We live in a ‘get the bag’ society, but make sure your family is cool, your community is cool. Is everybody good? Understand, if one has it, but everybody doesn’t have it, then we don’t have it. Ask yourself: How are you impacting other people in your life and ensuring that you’re lifting as you climb?”
Kim Kenny leaves us with one important question to ask ourselves, especially during the unprecedented times of COVID-19, where community is needed from afar. Your neighbors may not have food, are you willing to give some? Your cousins may get evicted, will you open your home? Again, I quote: “Ask yourself: How are you impacting other people in your life and ensuring that you’re lifting as you climb?”