November 11, 2022 | CULTURE | By Esa George
By the time Kyshona persisted to the audience the words: “We like people to sing along with us!” followed by “you all didn’t know you had to work tonight,” I could tell we were in for an immersive moment of melodic connectedness.
Kyshona is center stage, an acoustic guitar in her arms, surrounded by two other women on each of her sides. The music is stripped down to just the vocals of the three women and the guitar resting in Kyshona’s grip.
And if we were to allow ourselves to lose the worries about who was listening next to us and how loud the people around us were, we could really get lost in the words we were singing back —words we had just learned only a minute before they were leaving our lips.
Kyshona is an artist based in Nashville, and the two women completing her trio are on tour with her out west. It is no surprise when she reveals to the audience after the first two songs that that is what she had studied in school. With an emphasis on the power of listening and the ability to incorporate that listening into songwriting, she calls attention to the importance of mirroring the person across from you.
The third song starts “why you gotta interrupt when I’m not done talking; yea I’m pouring out my heart because I want you to see it”.
“Why won’t you listen!”
At first glance, Nicky Conley and Maureen Murphy are supporting Kyshona as backup vocals, but that feeling of their presence just being supporters quickly diminishes. They play a crucial role in Kyshona’s set, her songs, and the harmonies that they have crafted together.
About 15 minutes into the show, Kyshona acknowledges that there is no better way to perform than with her complete trio. It is not hard to find their chemistry as they glance at each other, share moments of laughter and uplift each other throughout the show. We learn, too, that Conley and Murphy have both collaborated in the song writing process of some of Kyshona’s songs. They are a big part of Kyshona’s presence, and I get the impression that they share a level of comfortability with each other that pushes them to perform an even better show.
Kyshona’s passion for songwriting started as an outlet for herself. She tells her audience that it wasn’t long ago when there was far more stigma regarding the discourse on mental health than there is today. For that reason, her passion became her career, what she devotes her life to, and what she also desires to teach other people. This makes her songs all the more impactful, for, in a way, they feel like intimate journal entries meshed with powerful vocals and satisfying guitar work.
Her entire set was interactive, which felt like an embodiment of her message to listen to people and connect an audience.
Before performing her song “Nighttime Animal”, she asks the audience what nighttime animal we would be. An owl? A raccoon? Her answer was a possum and after sharing laughs with her audience and the two women who shared the stage with her, she gets into song; not long after, she invites us to join her in singing.
Her style invites us to feel more connected to her as well as truly hear her words.
Murphy, she tells us, is a vocal coach. Conley has her own music and an album of new songs is on its way. She emphasizes how badly she wants for Maureen to realize her own music someday, but Murphy responds that supporting vocals are her thing.
It is obvious that these women are meant to work together and make a special kind of magic happen that we got to witness on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 6.