Classic rock, blues, and pop singer-songwriter Kari Greenway, of the duo Kari & Keys, is interviewed about her musical background, influences, balancing careers, and much more.
What first got you into music?
I can’t remember a time in my life without music. I grew up in a family where we had music playing constantly in the house, car, and church. It’s been a huge part of my life since I was born.
Who are some of your influences?
So many! Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Etta James, Sara Bareilles, just to name a few. I love me some old music and soulful or bluesy voices!
How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?
About 10 years ago or so one of my college professors asked me if I wanted to form a band. So for a few years I was a part of a trio called Polyphonic3. Then we went our separate ways. I then sang at Mata Hari for a few years. And most recently, I found my boyfriend/bandmate through the Savannah Musicians Facebook page.
Talk a bit about your duo Kari & Keys …
So, like I said, we connected through Facebook. I was searching for someone to form a duo or band with and he responded. We met up, ran through a few songs and realized we really clicked and sound good together. We play off of each other. It’s awesome having him on keys, because I can focus more on vocals and he gets to show off with some Billy Joel & Elton John, along with some other piano solos. He’s helped me become a better musician. We love older music, so we cover some classic rock, along with modern hits. It’s just really fun to make music together!
I love both teaching and music, and I work hard at both, which can be tiring, but it’s also fun and very rewarding!
Talk a bit about balancing being a teacher and a musician …
It can be difficult for sure. I want to hit up open mics, but they’re on weekdays and usually late, and I have to be at school to teach by 7, so I either sacrifice sleep or don’t go. It can be frustrating. So during the week I try to focus on teaching and a little practice in the evenings and then on the weekends I do gigs and/or focus on practicing more. But when summer rolls around I am definitely planning to go to more open mic nights! I love both teaching and music, and I work hard at both, which can be tiring, but it’s also fun and very rewarding!
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Don’t try to sound like someone else. Sound like you. And focus on the meaning/emotion of the music when you perform, because if you already have the practice/talent behind it, there’s no need to focus on the technique when you perform. It’s our job to convey a story and emotions when we perform.
Name a Savannah artist you’d love to collaborate with, and why?
There are so many talented musicians in Savannah! But, I would have to say Cyril Durant! Because, we actually went to college together as vocal majors. We were good buddies. We also both sang at Mata Hari. He’s super talented and I think it would be real fun to harmonize together and have a little mini college reunion.
So maybe one day I can play drums while I sing in a band!
What are some of your favorite local places to play?
The courtyard at the Rail is always fun! Great sound, good energy, and one of my favorite bars. Also, Toasted Barrel, because it’s intimate, chill, and there is a good mixture of tourists and locals who really get into the music.
Your thoughts on the Savannah music scene …
It’s really growing! There are so many amazingly talented people. It’s really awesome to walk around downtown or Tybee or even hit up restaurants/bars throughout town and hear live music! And there are so many genres and people making music in all sorts of amazing new innovative ways! The bigger names that the Enmark Arena and Plant Riverside are bringing in is also very exciting!
What’s next for you?
Just to keep on improving! I am working on doing more solo work. I’m also learning the drums! So maybe one day I can play drums while I sing in a band! I want to always be learning and getting better at my craft. I don’t have any big plans or projects in the making, but am definitely open to any that come my way!