Kim Kenny was just 9 years old when she first sat down at an organ. Her father’s church, Calvary Community Church, needed a musician. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Aretha Franklin and Twinkie Clark, Kenny said her talents were cultivated and nurtured in the church. Now 33, Kenny received her master’s degree in music from Butler University and will be the featured soloist at the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir’s performance of “Sacred Masterworks: Musical Majesty of Choir & Organ” event Oct. 2.
Last year, Kenny won national awards for opera and classical music and was contacted by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir shortly afterward about the performance. Both of the pieces she’s performing — Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum (translates to “O Praise the Lord”) and Francis Smith Thomas’ “My Feet Are Tired But My Soul is Resting” — take Kenny back to her roots.
“I think what’s beautiful is that they appeal to who I am, with my church and gospel background,” Kenny said. “Thomas was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr.’s family and was inspired by a woman who participated in the bus boycott and the song is very hymn-like … and the Mozart piece is very reverent and very elegant. … I just love them both.”
Beyond performing, Kenny also uses her talent to share the arts with children in the Indianapolis area. In 2018, she founded the Indy Youth Urban Music Academy to create a safe place for a diverse group of students to cultivate their own musical abilities.
With roughly 300 students enrolled and several partnerships throughout the city, Kenny said the program helps children not only gain expertise in various art disciplines but helps them become more well rounded in their daily lives.
“Art education allows students to create connections with the arts and other disciplines,” Kenny said. “A student that’s exposed to music education is a student who is well rounded.”
Kenny said these benefits, as well as technological innovations during COVID-19, have made many organizations strive to make the arts more accessible. Both she and Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Artistic Director Eric Stark say this event will help new audiences engage with the art.
“Focusing an entire program on majestic works for chorus and organ, ‘Sacred Masterworks’ features beloved greats by renowned composers alongside incredible lesser-known masterpieces,” Stark said in a statement. “What these works have in common is their unique ability to tap into the incredible sonic impact of voice and organ. What a thrill!”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.
featured soloist at Indianapolis Symphonic Choir event