From: TN, United States
Genre: Christian/Gospel, Blues, Rock
For many years, Kenny Meeks has been blurring the lines between Rock, Folk, Blues, Gospel, and Country music. His songs are born of classic southern living, his migratory childhood, and his blue-collar upbringing. His music, clearly Americana, is uniquely universal, and appeals to a vast audience. His roots run deep, springing from early mountain and country music, to jazz and gospel, with a rich ...understanding and appreciation for the American music lexicon.
At the young age of 7, Meeks wandered away from his family during their visit at Uncle Robert and Aunt Ginnie's farm in Horse Cave, Kentucky, and discovered an old black man playing the blues on the porch of his sharecropper shack next door. "I remember it like it was yesterday," says Kenny. "He was sitting on a kitchen chair, singing, and playing a dimestore guitar through a dimestore amp, using a jackknife for a slide. I'll never forget it."
Soon after, his family migrated to Detroit for work in the auto industry. "Detroit radio in the 1960s was a mix of Motown, Cosmic Country-Rock, Stax, and Gospel," he remembers. "I gravitated toward the guitar-based bands and realized they were really playing songs written by legendary guys like Willie Dixon and Elmore James. That was the stuff! The blues had a narcotic effect on me. It seemed to soothe my inner struggles as a young man, loneliness, and the passing of my mother." Ray Charles, Hound Dog Taylor, The Staple Singers, and Rev. Gary Davis were some of his favorites.
By 1994, Kenny was writing and playing music that combined country and blues idioms, music which came to be known as "alt-country." He fit right in to the newly developing underground genre known as AAA. His first single, "I'll Be Superman (You Can Be Lois Lane)," was released to AAA and Country stations across the nation. Despite his relative newness to the emerging alt-country scene, 65 AAA stations spun "Superman" to their listener's delight.
His critically acclaimed solo debut, "Tell My Angel" appeared on 'Top 25' lists for 2001. The self-produced project features duets with the enchanting Julie Miller, and he is joined on the title track by 6P None the Richer's Leigh Nash. Eight of the ten tracks were spun on PAR, AAA, College, and Americana stations and programs across the US, and in 23 countries.
Meeks' second release, a retro country blues cd entitled "Blue Chapel", features 11 self penned songs, which sound for the most part as though they were written 60 years ago, primarily gospel music of a "cheerful" flavor. He cites Rev. Gary Davis as the primary inspiration for this project, unplugged with harmonica and some sparse instrumentation (think Sonny Terry/Brownie McGee) with plenty of hootin', hollerin', and slide guitar.
His third release, "Unfaded", was also self-produced with the help of Grammy recipient Andrew Ramsey (Robert Randolph, Jonny Lang, Marc Broussard) and is a further exploration of his roots, influences and history. Songs inspired by his childhood Kentucky home, love, loss and enlightenment, the songs of "Unfaded" are cut from the same Americana cloth, and again, find themselves on American radio playlists alongside Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan.
Universally esteemed among fellow artists, Meeks has been enlisted by luminaries like Sixpence None the Richer, Buddy Miller, and Johnny Lang for work in their bands or on their recordings.
Meeks reflects rich Americana history in his storytelling with a fresh, yet traditional style, with references as varied as Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Rodgers one minute, and R.L. Burnside or Merle Haggard the next. Always a fresh take, even within the confines of tradition, his music fascinates audiences young and old, fans and newcomers alike.