Emporia native Kelley Hunt has just issued a new CD titled Beautiful Bones. The album offers plenty of the familiar for Hunt’s longtime fans—there’s gospel, blues, & R&B—but, she says, style isn’t her main consideration when choosing material for a new album.
“I think what I gravitated to at a young age and I find myself doing it still is anything that moves me on a visceral level," she says.
“Release and Be Free” may very well Hunt’s best performance on the album. She says that co-producer Al Berman encouraged her to outdo herself on the track.
“I thought I’d gotten a keeper vocal on it and he was the one that said, ‘You know, I think there’s more here that you haven’t quite reached.’ And it wasn’t about singing it louder or harder, it was about letting go and doing what the song called for," she says. "And he was right.”
On the song “Gates of Eden” Hunt opted to dip her toes into psychedelic music. The song, about a near-death experience, seemed to call for that out-of-this-world touch.
“Many of us have been there, myself included," she says. "Many times when that happens time just stands still and it is kind of a psychedelic experience.”
“Simplify” finds Hunt singing in the gospel tradition and channeling one of that genre’s greatest voices, Mavis Staples. Hunt was able to perform with the music legend during a 2013 cruise. The experience, as you might expect, did not disappoint.
“She wanted to do ‘Jesus on the Mainline,’" Hunt says. "I knew it and she knew it. We ran through it once, went out and just went for it. It was so much fun. It was like flying.”
Thursday sees Hunt performing in Wichita at the River Festival. She says that the Air Capital has become a kind of second home to her over the years.
“People in Wichita have always been so supportive of me," she says. "All the way back to my first CD. Every time I have a new project that comes out, I always want to go there. I feel like it’s part of my history. I just want to say thank you to these audiences in Wichita. It’s a lot like coming home, actually.”
Kelley Hunt’s Beautiful Bones is out now.