Popular Prairie Home Companion piano player performs

From staff reports

A woman who has muscled her way in to the music business with her own take on blues, roots and gospel, singer-songwriter Kelley Hunt is a rarity and a challenge to the music industry's penchant for easy artist definitions.

Hunt, who plays piano and guitar, makes music that crosses boundaries while maintaining an open-minded, exploratory attitude and take on social and political issues.

Born in Kansas City, Hunt grew up listening to early blues, R&B, roots rock, jazz and gospel. She was influenced by artists such as Ruth Brown, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Ann Peebles, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin, Charles Brown, Wanda Jackson. She was also influenced by a cross-section of the New Orleans/St. Louis/Kansas City piano traditions of Professor Longhair, Toots Washington, Johnnie Johnson and Kansas City masters Jay McShann and Mary Lou Williams.

Before that came the sound of her mother singing jazz and blues - her first musical memories - and the influence of her New Orleans gospel-singer grandmother. Reminders of these very traditional influences are evident in Kelley’s live performances and recordings. But the lyrics, soul and passion are all her own.

Hunt’s career path so far has been a story of fierce independence and incredible will. That narrative includes 1,500-plus performances with appearances on a long list of premier North American and international festival stages, six times on American Public Media's “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Gospel-tinged Americana

Who: Kelley Hunt

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $12 advance, $15 door