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Roots Singer's Path Was Clear From Birth

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With a mother and grandmother who sang — the latter doing gospel in New Orleans — Kansas singer-songwriter Kelley Hunt’s career path was laid out almost from birth.

“We were inundated with music at home,” says Hunt, who started playing piano at age 3 and in bands when she was 16, eventually spending 2 1 /2 years studying composition at the University of Kansas. “It was always happening at my house. My older brother and sister were listening to everything from Muddy Waters to Jimi Hendrix to Motown stuff.

“When it came time to do my own stuff, it’s just ’cause I was driven to do it. It was in my bones. And what came out was what made me feel most like myself.”

Hunt’s three albums feature a rootsy, blues-based blend of music played with a roadhouse kind of energy — although her most recent release, 2004’s “New Shade of Blue,” includes a stylized treatment of the Beatles’ “The Word.” Meanwhile, Hunt is excited to get cracking on her fourth, which she plans to start recording this month in Nashville.

That means her audiences are getting to hear plenty of new material these days as she gets it ready for the studio.

“When I get ready to record, one of the processes I have is to take the stuff out and do it live,” explains Hunt, who will likely be playing fresh compositions such as “Too Much History,” “You Gotta Be the Vessel” and the politically themed “Emerald City.”

“It’s like a new generation of music for me. I feel like I’m in growth-spurt time, writing a lot and feeling real energized by it. It’s important to get it out there and get it as raw and to the bones as I can before I step into a studio. I want to feel like I know the stuff so I can (record) it the right way.”

Kelley Hunt performs at 8 p.m. Friday (Feb. 2) at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $15. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org

Web Site: www.theark.org

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