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Meet a Musician: Kasey Horton can take her viola into any genre

Meet a Musician: Kasey Horton can take her viola into any genre

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Kasey Horton likes being able to “surprise people with their own abilities.”

Best known in the area for her viola playing, and her work with groups such as Amelia’s Mechanics, she’s also a music instructor, has taught in Guilford County Schools and hopes to one day open a school of her own.

“I hear people of all ages, all the time, say, ‘Man, I don’t know that I could do that. I don’t know that I could even carry a tune,’” she said. “But you can learn. Anybody can learn. It is hard stuff because there are so many different components to it, like theory and practicing your skills on your instruments. But, I love being able to show people that they can learn that. Music is a universal language.”

In a recent interview, she spoke about her teaching experience, what she does when a tune pops into her head, and fans trying to take selfies with her while she’s playing.

How did you get interested in music?

I am originally from Greensboro, and I moved out of my parents house when I was 15 to board at the (UNC) School of the Arts and study there. I went there for high school and one year of college. And I eventually ended up at UNCG and took some time off to tour with my former band Amelia’s Mechanics. We toured around and played some major theaters. Jim Avett, father of the Avett Brothers, produced our album.

After that, I went to Guilford College where I got my B.A. in viola performance. And I’ve been in a lot of different projects as an accompanist or co-writer.

I mainly play the viola. I can play violin, I can play guitar, drums, a little bit of cello. Don’t play any wind instruments though. I play a little bit of piano. We kind of had to in music school.

What kind of teaching experience have you had?

I actually teach privately. I teach strings. I also taught for Guilford County Schools for about three years, and then I taught at a charter school in Winston-Salem for about a year. But I’ve been teaching for maybe about 10 years.

How would you describe your music?

People ask me all the time what genre it is. I don’t really have a genre. I call it Kasey Horton. It’s been explained as experimental folk music ... But you can ask a lot of people, they’ll say “Kasey can pick up the viola, and play anything genre-wise.”

Who are some of your musical inspirations?

I listen to a lot of different types of music, like Esperanza Spalding, Snarky Puppy or Hiromi. I learned their styles and phrasings, and have practiced to their records.

What’s your creative process like?

If something pops into my head, no matter where I am, I’ll hit record on my phone, and record me humming a melody or lyrics, and as soon as I get home, I let it flow out.

If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be and why?

That’s kind of like asking what’s your favorite type of music.

But there’s a band called The Nth Power, that I saw at this festival. We were playing at the same festival. Their drummer Nikki Glaspie is a badass. And I enjoy her because she’s very well-rounded in her career. She’s played for Beyonce and John Legend but also has her hometown band she continues playing with, Nth Power.

What’s the funniest or weirdest thing that has happened at one of your shows?

The people who think that they can get up onstage with you at any time and just hang on you or try to take a selfie with you while you’re trying to play your instrument. That’s happened to me before. It’s funny now, but not really at the time.

What’s your favorite song to perform?

I really like the song called “If I Had a Dollar” by (folk rocker) Samantha Crain. I saw her open up once for Brandi Carlile in New Jersey, and just fell in love with her.

What’s next for you?

Right now, I’m in a project called The Wright Avenue, and we are working on a record. With the time in quarantine, I’ve also been focusing on my own music. Hopefully, I’ll be able to record my own album this year. It’s just a matter of trying to find the time to do that.

I’m also focusing on grad school. I just recently got accepted at Berklee College of Music (in Boston), so I plan to get my master’s there, a Ph.D., and hope to start my own school.

— As told to Robert C. Lopez,

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