Music gives us hope. But people give us music. And I have a feeling God was singing when he created the world.
He kept on singing when he created Kyshona Armstrong. He gave her a voice, and a reason to hope — the capacity to heal through song, and to listen, to hold space for other voices to join hers.
First Kyshona became a music therapist. For over thirteen years, she worked with people in rehab, prison, mental health wards, forensic units, nursing homes, and schools. Then she realized she needed to sing her own songs of transformation, to bear witness to the hope she’d experienced in her encounters with those in her care. Now, she’s a songwriter on a mission, “To be a voice and a vessel for those that feel lost, forgotten, silenced and who are hurting.”
Music critic Jewly Hight said of Kyshona’s latest album:
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she called it Listen, because she has that very real conviction that the act of listening and the feeling of being heard are fundamental human needs…there’s that sense of purpose in the language that she chooses, that sense of speaking in a collective way in the language that she chooses.”
Kyshona’s work with adults and youth experiencing trauma, isolation, homelessness, and incarceration informs her songwriting and where she goes with it. She’s launched programming to support these communities, including Our Song, where she meets with groups across the country to help them write what is often their first song, to work through trauma and find their own voice, together. Kyshona now offers this as an add-on to her tour schedule, hosting songwriting workshops for local community organizations, like the YWCA, veteran support groups, homeless shelters and other non-profit organizations. Each concert venue along her tour is invited to participate by donating a percentage of ticket sales to support Our Song in their town. The end result is a professionally recorded song, tracked by Kyshona, written by the community.
Here are a few lyrics born out of these community sessions.
Writing a song, especially your first song, is an empowering experience. Music truly is healing. I also know being out on the road as a touring artist, the thought of adding a separate community event to each concert date, is a lot. I’m inspired by Kyshona’s willingness to show up in a big way, everywhere she goes. This gives me reason to hope.
Psalm 81:10 says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” As a songwriter and performer, I have thought often of this verse and the gift of surrender. When we become a willing vessel, allowing the Spirit to move through us, God speaks. And what does that sound like? “His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.” It sounds like the most beautiful song.
Join us this Monday at 3pm ET on Root and Vine’s Instagram Live for week 33 of Reasons to Hope with special guest Kyshona.
We’ll be talking with her about Our Song, Your Song — the program where she helps individuals write their own song and story, and the Lullaby Project — a partnership with Intersection (Nashville, TN) and Carnegie Hall (NYC) pairing pregnant women, new mothers and fathers, with professional artists to write and sing their own personal lullabies for their babies.
Writing the Book of Hope
We’ve been writing the Book of Hope together for 33 weeks now, but it’s never too late to join us. Here’s all you need to get started.