Listening to Precious Bryant with Amythyst Kiah
inTheir Musicon March 15, 2018
Amythyst Kiah is among the most recognized new voices interpreting, reviving, and reimagining the African American musical tradition. Both a scholar of African American music history and a songwriter in her own right, Kiah’s repertoire balances her own rhythmic, rocking original compositions and stripped-down homages to the folk, old-time, and blues singers whose work made her the artist that she is today. Among those musical influencers are artists like the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the late Precious Bryant, who worked closely with Music Maker over their careers.
We asked Amythyst to dig through our archives for songs that inspired her, and she gave us six of her favorite songs by Precious Bryant, the Waverly Hall, Georgia fingerstyle guitarist and Piedmont blues singer who partnered with Music Maker from 1995 until her death in 2013.
Precious came from a farming community in rural Georgia. Like many traditional artists, her music was a part of everyday life in her community, from church programs to local “frolics”. Music Maker helped her meet her monthly needs and perform abroad, but she didn’t care for traveling. Although she couldn’t tour for a living, and died with little to her name, Precious’ music left an enormous imprint on the spirit of the Piedmont blues.
Like Kiah, Precious was a songwriter who loved the old and the new, from fife and drum beats to rhythm and blues, and played it all with the integrity of her own character. You can hear Amythyst’s cover of Precious’ “Broke and I Ain’t Got a Dime” on her 2016 EP as Amythyst Kiah & Her Chest of Glass.
Take a listen to Precious and Amythyst, and hear how artists are living on in the next generation of innovators and tradition-bearers staking their claim to their musical heritage.
“These are all Precious Bryant tunes, she was a bit of an obsession for me a few years ago and I found her guitar playing and vocal delivery are at once relaxed, complex, and passionate. Her arrangements of Little Willie John’s ‘Fever’ and ‘Saints Go Marching In’ are indelibly marked by her authentic, distinct style.” –Amythyst Kiah