Kelley Hunt album-release concert to benefit Just Food
For Kansas City-born, Lawrence-based songwriter Kelley Hunt, each new project is an opportunity to share her point of view, and her identity as it develops among those around her.
Her latest album, “The Beautiful Bones,” is exactly that: the structure of her musical identity.
“The set of influences that organically came into my world started me thinking about my identity,” Hunt says. “This helped me pay respect stylistically to those influences.”
Released last month, her sixth studio album is a 12-track collection of tributes to her musical roots mixing funk and soul influences, rich R&B textures, and Memphis-style gospel rhythms. Sounds of Aretha Franklin and Mavis Staples — two idols Hunt grew up listening to — come alive through her soulful vocals and piano work and she’s backed by a Nashville band that includes Bryan Owings on drums, Tim Marks on bass, John Jackson on electric guitar and the McCrary Sisters on background vocals.
Hunt will be performing songs from “The Beautiful Bones” and a handful of others from earlier in her career Saturday at the Granada, 1020 Massachusetts St., in a special CD release party and benefit concert for Just Food, the Douglas County food bank. Tickets are $20.
“The proceeds are going to Just Food and that really does my heart good because this is my town,” Hunt says. “I love being able to give something back to the people I love.”
Hunt spent the past three years since her last album, “Gravity Loves You,” writing “Bones,” and she wrote about recurring life lessons that struck her as beautiful. It’s a series of reflections she’s had on her relationship with both the “external and internal” worlds.
“Pay attention to what’s going on, value what’s happening, be aware and awake, but be full of gratitude,” she says. “And a big one for me is be compassionate enough to do the hard things and make the hard decisions with yourself and what’s going in your world.”
She credits her “dream team” — including co-producer Al Berman and musicians she’d worked or toured with before — for putting her at ease during the recording process at Nashville’s historic Sixteen Ton Studio. It felt effortless, she says, never having to think about the technical components as they recorded all of the tracks live (with horn parts being the exception).
Her touring band hailing from Detroit, Chicago and Nashville, and with Saturday’s concert she is excited to introduce them to a city she is proud to be a part of, and introduce her own local friends and family to the Kelley Hunt that exists in cities elsewhere through her music.
“And then when the show is over I get to sleep in my own bed, which doesn’t happen very often,” Hunt says, addressing her extensive touring schedule booked through September.
Hunt notes the many visual artists, dancers, musicians and writers that constantly surround her in Lawrence; she can’t help but be inspired by Final Fridays exhibitions, touring musicians at of the Lied Center, and “even those busking on the street.”
“This community is rife with the creative pulse,” she says. “It’s a great environment to live in and it’s a great environment to come home to.”