Artist’s NameJulie & Josh Kinn
Address1316 Hamilton Terrace SE
Roanoke, VA 24014
United States
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Tell us about you, the artist. Please include a few sentences of biographical information.

Our names are Josh and Julie Kinn, from the local band Kinnfolk. We’re a Roanoke-based Celtic folk band that specializes in Irish traditional tunes (i.e. culturally-rooted instrumental music like jigs, reels, slip jigs, etc.) and folk songs from across the Celtic tradition.

In 2023 we won the Robinson Emerging Artist Showcase (an international showcase of up-and-coming Celtic music acts from around the world), resulting in a Main Stage appearance at the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival in Ontario, Canada.

Please describe your artistic practice including the media you work in and your approach to your art.

Irish traditional music, like other forms of folk art, is living history. As trad musicians, we engage with this living history every time we perform—either as Kinnfolk, or as part of the weekly Roanoke Irish traditional session at Big Lick Brewing Company (Mondays from 6-9pm). The Roanoke session is trad music in its purest form, a community gathering in which friends participate in a joyful and spontaneous creation of music that has been played in similar gatherings for hundreds of years. This music only exists if community members continue to play it; and the tradition only gets passed on if new players pick up instruments and join the circle.

When we perform as Kinnfolk, we are acutely aware of the tradition in which we are playing—performing Irish traditional music is simultaneously an act of creation, an act of preservation, and an act of inspiration. As songwriters in a folk genre, we recognize the responsibility of bearing witness to the people, places, and events in our immediate surroundings. This, too, is a vital process of creation, preservation, and inspiration.

Describe the proposed work or project.

Last year, we received an Art Matters Grant to create “Kinnfolk Presents: Star Above the Mountain,” a collection of original Celtic songs and tunes inspired by the history, folklore, and geography of Roanoke, VA. The project culminated in a sold-out live performance at The Spot on Kirk, in which we presented 14 new pieces of music while joined by five other members of the Roanoke Irish traditional music community.

For our Artist Action Grant proposal, we want to create professional sound recordings of our “Star Above the Mountain” project. These recordings will allow our new music about Roanoke, VA to exist beyond that singular performance at The Spot on Kirk. By distributing the recordings through websites like Spotify, etc. our tracks (and the stories they contain) will become available to listeners around the world.

We would use funds from the Artist Action Grant to pay for studio time; compensation for additional local musicians (we plan to include the same musicians who joined us on stage for the original performance); fees for online distribution; and marketing needs (photos for single/album art, etc.).

Although a fully polished/pressed “Star Above the Mountain” album will likely not be ready to launch until Spring 2025, we plan to use digital distribution platforms to release 3 singles from the album in 2024. We will also leverage our website and social media pages to tell stories surrounding the recordings, distribute rough recordings of additional tracks, etc. to bring the music to as many people as possible.

How will the work advance wellness, justice, or inclusion in Roanoke? Consider a community issue that you hope to address, something you want to celebrate or a condition you want to change.

Roanoke is home to a thriving Celtic cultural community, ranging from musicians, to folk artists, to religious leaders, to competitive Highland athletes, and beyond. Our project will promote inclusion in Roanoke by raising awareness of the Celtic cultural network already existing in the Valley and inviting people–both local and global–to learn more about it.

By recording and distributing the music we wrote for our “Star Above the Mountain” project, we will create more opportunities for people beyond Roanoke to hear the music and engage with Southwest Virginia’s Celtic cultural heritage. Additionally, the Artist Action Grant will allow us to lift up other trad musicians in the Valley by (1) including their performances in our sound recordings and (2) compensating them well for their time in the studio.

Ultimately, we hope to inspire more people to learn about Celtic music and the tradition surrounding it. As we mentioned earlier in this application, folk traditions of this kind only exist if community members continue to participate. Our goal–with this project and with our music in general–is to inspire new musicians to pick up an instrument, learn a handful of centuries-old tunes, and join our community in preserving a living folk art.

When do you anticipate undertaking the work? If the project is tied to a set event or date, let us know.

We are beginning work on the studio recordings in January 2024, with the goal of completing the raw tracks by the end of February. From there, the studio engineer will need time to balance and master the recordings, which also involves finalizing artwork for singles.

Once the recordings are complete, we can begin tasks involved with releasing singles (submitting to distribution companies, filming music videos, developing a storytelling campaign, etc.). Our goal is to release three singles spread out across 2024, followed by a full “Star Above the Mountain” album in early 2025.

Are there partners in this effort? If so describe the partnerships and what each partner brings.

We’ll be working with Willy Gurley of Fainting Goat Studios to create the sound recordings. Additional musicians will include Burt Mitchell (tin whistle/flute), Dennis McKim (guitar), Tim Sauls (banjo/bouzouki), Paul Brockman (fiddle), and Brandon Davis (uilleann pipes).

We would love to identify a fellow YOTA photographer/videographer to collaborate with for album art and/or music videos!

Your theory of change: How will the work advance your efforts as an artist toward an established goal? How will you, a partner organization, or the community be changed?

Our main goal as trad musicians is to preserve and promote Celtic music, especially in our corner of Appalachia. Celtic music is most alive when people participate in it, whether as musicians, as listeners seeking to connect with cultural heritage, or as casual passers-by who simply enjoy the sound and want to learn more.

An album of Roanoke-themed Celtic songs and tunes will support this goal in several ways. First, the act of creating folk music is an act of witnessing and preservation; by telling stories of Roanoke and its people, we will capture authentic slice-of-life accounts of what it’s like to live right here, right now. Second, this project will be an opportunity to engage the Celtic musicians of Roanoke, giving them visibility and an opportunity to celebrate their craft and heritage—all while being paid. Third, the album will boost the visibility of Celtic musical heritage in the Roanoke Valley, which will hopefully inspire the next generation of local musicians to pick up an instrument and join the circle.

Finally, by creating and releasing professional recordings of “Star Above the Mountain,” our music has a chance to enter the canon of Celtic music and hopefully be performed by musicians beyond our city—in other regional sessions, in other states, or even in other countries. What better way to preserve Celtic musical heritage in Appalachia than by creating songs that might be performed by other folk performers, decades down the line?

How much money do you need to accomplish the project? (The allowed range is $500 – $3,000.)$3,000
What other resources do you need to accomplish the project?

Any help that the city or other artists can give to spread the word about this project would be immensely helpful. The grant funds the process of recording the new music that we composed last year; but the *online presentation* portion will reach so many more people–in Roanoke and beyond–if the community helps with word of mouth!

Attach a full budget for your project. Include all costs and revenues. This can be a spreadsheet, word document, PDF, or image.Kinnfolk-Artist-Action-Grant-Proposed-Budget.xlsx
Submit your CV, resume, or brag sheet here.Kinnfolk-Brag-Sheet_1.30.24.pdf
Submit a PDF of up to five images representing recent projects or works. (Max file size 10 MB). This should be one file containing multiple images. This must be a PDF. Include captions describing the work. (A PDF can easily be made using the “print as PDF” function in MS Word or “Download as PDF” in google docs.)Kinnfolk_Recent-Projects.pdf
Do you have general liability insurance coverage for your arts-based business, either through your own policy or through a project partner?No