Kyra Gordon’s musicality and performing skills have taken her into many different musical worlds. She was a founding member of the Bay Area improvised Hip-Hop collective “The Freeze”. She sings lead and plays keys for the original funk project “Captain Input”, in addition to playing solo piano and vocal shows for the last three years at the Rite Spot in SF. Her cross country house concert tours have taken her from CA to Maine and back over the last three summers. She is in the midst of creating a one woman show called “Loving Janis”, based on her sold out concert for women’s history month in 2018, to be premiered at Ashkenaz in August ‘19 as part of the programming for the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. She was the first vocalist to graduate from the California Jazz Conservatory, and was awarded the Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship.
A Bay Area native, Kyra grew up in Oakland, singing in choirs and acting in plays. After being accepted into the Young Actors Workshop in San Francisco, she began rigorous acting training at the age of 13. Realizing her passion for it, her desire deepened to pursue a career in acting. She dropped out of high school and moved to Hollywood shortly after her 15th birthday, spending the next five years studying, auditioning, performing, and filming. She received her union status in the Screen Actors Guild for a co-starring role in an independent film at age 16, and appeared on stage at many LA theaters, as well as co-starring role in the NBC mini-series “The 70’s”. Though acting seemed to be the goal, her love of singing continued throughout her early adulthood. Armed with a fake ID and an audition, she landed her her first singing gig at The Crooked Bar on the Sunset Strip at age 18, and realized her passion for music was expanding.
Needing to explore the world, and being disillusioned with Hollywood led her to travel to New Orleans, where she sang on Bourbon Street with Big Al Carson and the Bluesbreakers. This experience was indelible on the psyche, driving singing to the forefront. While in New Orleans, she purchased an underground art magazine from an artist commune in the mountains of North Carolina called Zendik Farm. She ultimately spent four years with the group, living in both North Carolina and West Virginia, learning to farm, take care of goats and horses, and travelling all over the east coast selling underground magazines on the street and at concerts.
After leaving West Virginia and ending up briefly back in LA she was approached to front a newly formed rock band. Performing and writing again was great, but LA was not a fit anymore, so she kept moving. After landing in Maui she stayed on the property of jazz pianist Sal Godinez, who encouraged her talent and helped her perform on the island. From there, she moved to Paris, France, to pursue singing seriously and experience life in another country. While living there, she was fortunate to be mentored by trumpet player and Chicago native Boney Fields, helping her to perform several nights a week for her year-long stay in Paris. Returning to the Bay in 2008, she has firmly laid down roots back home.
QUOTES ABOUT THE SHOW
“This project is something I have dreamed about doing for many years. Both these women had a profound effect on my life. I discovered Janis Joplin as a teenager in Oakland. I was on the cusp of dropping out of Skyline High, and moving to LA to become an actress, and hearing her sing felt like permission to pursue my life as I saw fit. She was raw and full out, and made me feel alive. I discovered Janis Ian a few years later, and her songs have been part of the fabric of my life ever since. Both of them being strong female band leaders, facing all of the challenges that come with being a woman in the public eye, have always fascinated and inspired me. As I trod down my own weird and rocky road, I look to them for advice through their voices and artistry. That is why I wanted to call the show “Loving Janis”, because performing their songs feels like an act of loving and thanking them for this.”
“I felt a real connection and kinship to Janis Joplin as a young woman. She wasn’t the norm but her attitude became ‘I don’t fit and I’m going all the way with it.’ I had similar feelings, having lived on my own at a young age, and feeling like I never fit anyone’s vision of what was beautiful or appropriate”.
“I was so drawn to Janis Ian because she chose to dedicate her life to being a songwriter and a master of her craft. Her lyrics are poetry. They conjure such vivid imagery. She tells stories about life and the human experience”