Auntie Bellum is excited to share our newest series, Well, I Declare. This series aims to highlight local Southern women who are forging their own paths and making change in their community. We ask them a bit about this & that to gain some insight into the women all around us, who are shaping the fabric of the South.
We begin with Columbia native, Kyshona Armstrong. Kyshona is a deeply talented singer-songwriter. You may recognize her from our Southern Cover Girl series where she sang “Dust and Bones”. Kyshona began her musical career in the marching band at Dutch Fork High School. She graduated and moved on to study and make music at the University of Georgia. Her generous heart lead her to study music therapy, and this is where she was inspired to embark upon her songwriting career. She currently bounces all over the States, touring and promoting her music. Check her out at www.kyshona.com.
- Where do you call home?
I struggle with this question! I’ve lived so many places and have fallen in love with so many cities . . . but home is where my parents are. My parents are still in Irmo, SC, and that’s where I go when I need a spiritual realignment and a lil’ home cookin’.
- Describe your work life.
Neverending. Because I work for myself and only have income if I seek it out, I find that I am working from sun up until I lay my head down at night. From day to day, hour to hour, my work may be in the form of text messages and emails, co-writing with other artists, teaching piano lessons, playing music in nursing homes, singing for demos in studios around town, to playing shows in and out of town. I love that I get to make my own schedule. No two days are the same and every day there is a new experience to be had.
- Share an accomplishment that makes you feel proud.
Everyday I feel there are accomplishments to celebrate! Waking up is a big one =)
Honestly though, my greatest sense of pride comes from the fact that I took the leap into full time musician world, and six years later I am still at it! I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t given myself a time limit on pursuing my passion nor have I succumbed to the fear of stepping out on my own.
- What is your favorite southern saying?
“Awwwww shucky ducky!” I remember my Grandpa making this exclamation if we showed up looking fancy in our Sunday best, or if we did something impressive . . . like kill a black snake with Grandma’s machete.
- Does religion play a role in your life?
Absolutely. Every day I thank God for blessing me with this journey. Without faith I would not have made the leap that I did into this career. Any time that I begin to doubt my purpose or place in this world, I am presented with the amazing people and opportunities around me. I would not be where I am or have the support system of people surrounding me if it weren’t for Him.
- Tell us about an influential Southern woman in your life.
All of the influential Southern women in my life are in my family. Just the knowledge of what my grandmothers overcame and survived, and how they still carry themselves with grace, dignity and forgiveness in their hearts is a reminder that I come from strong stock. I have some powerful blood running through my veins. That is enough to keep me striving towards my goals.
- Has there been a defining moment that set you on your current life path?
My very first job as a music therapist had me traveling to people’s homes to work with infants with developmental delays, as well as youth detention centers to work with adolescents. I found myself feeling pretty weighed down and sad about the circumstances of my clients and needed an outlet. I remember the specific day of waking up from a dream/nightmare I had about sick babies, grabbing my guitar and writing my first song. After that, anytime I felt overwhelmed by a situation or circumstance, I found myself writing it down in song. Now I’ve left the music therapy world to write and share songs about overcoming struggles everyday.
- Share a Southern family tradition and tell us why it remains important, or why you have left it behind as an adult?
My family has the tradition on New Years Eve of packing up every Christmas decoration, deep cleaning the house, washing all laundry and preparing a large meal for New Years Day. I love this tradition because it feels like you are washing away the remnants of the previous year and entering the New Year with a clean slate and a refrigerator full of food!
- What does being a Southern woman mean to you?
Being a Southern woman means being strong, faithful, and polite yet ready to go to battle if I need to protect my own.
- What brings you the most pleasure in your life right now and how has that changed over the years?
Friendship and laughter bring me the most pleasure. It used to be music that brought me pleasure and escape, but now I find that spending time with people who understand me and accept me where I am in life means the world to me. I used to love going off by my introvert self to play piano or listen to my favorite cassette tape of Shai or Shania Twain. That’s how I used to re-charge. Although I still need alone time to recharge, I find it so much more fulfilling to surround myself with people I can cut loose and be myself with.
BONUS QUESTION: Dukes, Hellmann’s, or Miracle Whip?
Answer- NONE! Momma used to put mayo in my hair as a conditioner and now I can’t stand the smell of it. If I HAD to choose though… Miracle Whip.