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Country music artist set to perform in Jaffrey

  • Singer Dawn Kenney will perform country, bluegrass and Americana music at Mindful Books & Ephemera in Jaffrey on Nov. 24.

    Singer Dawn Kenney will perform country, bluegrass and Americana music at Mindful Books & Ephemera in Jaffrey on Nov. 24.

  • Singer Dawn Kenney will perform country, bluegrass and Americana music at Mindful Books & Ephemera in Jaffrey on Nov. 24.

Born into a musical family in the late 1950s, Dawn Kenney developed an early love of country music and bluegrass. Watching her uncle, country music artist Hank Walters, perform at small venues around Rhode Island, and ultimately earn his induction into the Rhode Island Country Music Hall of Fame, inspired Kenney to dream big, too.

After an upcoming performance in Jaffrey, Kenney will be headed to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall.

“Sometimes you are just born to do something,” said Kenney, who grew up in Rhode Island and now lives in the suburbs west of Boston, in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript on Friday. “My mom told me that I came out singing.”

Kenney’s uncle taught her to play the guitar when she was 9 years old and, since then, she said she’s never put the instrument down.

“Music has given me the ability to really connect with people,” Kenney said. “My goal is to lift people up and give them an alternative way to look at themselves and at the world.”

For the first time, Kenney will play a show of bluegrass, Americana and country for a Monadnock region audience at the Listening Room at Mindful Books & Ephemera on Main Street in Jaffrey on Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. A $10 donation is requested.

“I just love New Hampshire and I’ve heard great things about the Listening Room. Word gets out in the music community,” Kenney said. “When you are a performer, it’s wonderful to be in an intimate setting where people are really there to hear you sing.”

Kenney said she will perform songs from her new CD, “Sing Me Home,” which she recorded with a Massachusetts-based independent label, Heart Roots Music. The album’s title track, “Sing Me Home,” is a spiritual song that Kenney wrote in late 2011 during an emotionally difficult time in her life.

Kenney had watched for years as her mother-in-law struggled with Alzheimer’s, a disease that crippled the woman’s ability to communicate and caused her short-term memory loss.

“They call it the long goodbye,” Kenney said of Alzheimer’s. “But as we lost her overtime, one of the ways we could connect with her was through music. It was a way to help us get through the dense fog.”

In the couple of days prior to her mother-in-law’s passing, Kenney said the lyrics for “Sing Me Home” just poured out of her.

“That song was a gift,” Kenney said. “I realized as my family sat in the waiting room [of an assisted living facility] that there was a waiting room on the other side of life, and that she would soon be welcomed home.”

Since Kenney’s album was released in late September, she said the deeply personal story told in her title track has caught the attention of those in the music community, including well-known American composer Tim Janis. Janis recently invited Kenney to perform “Sing Me Home” at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Nov. 30 as part of a benefit concert for the Kate Winslet’s Golden Hat Foundation — an organization committed to eliminating barriers for people with autism — entitled “Tim Janis: The American Christmas Carol.”

“This will be an amazing opportunity. It feels like real validation.” Kenney said. “It gives me this juice of energy that I want to keep digging into.”

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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