Over the past decade, U.S.-born multi-instrumentalist Kirk Kenney has become a leading figure in the American folk music scene in China, using his music to bridge cultural divides and create positive energy wherever he performs.
Appearing across China on his own and in combination with an eclectic list of notable local and international musicians, Kenney's sound and repertoire draw from traditional North-American folk songs and fiddle tunes, Central and East Asian chantefable, Icelandic ambient electronic music, and more.
Personal influences on Kenney's showmanship and songwriting include the heartfelt and honest storytelling of Florida musician Gamble Rogers; the horse-head fiddle teachings of avant-garde Inner-Mongolian folk musician Hugjiltu of Ajinai; and recording with Tom Pang, China’s first and only throat-singing fusion mandolinist.
Kirk has recorded and performed on fiddle, guitar, banjo, and dulcimer with a wide range of stellar musicians, including The Hutong Yellow Weasels/The Mountain High, China’s first old-time square dance string band; China’s “poet rocker” Zhang Chu and his band; and Beijing rockabilly group Rolling Bowling. He’s performed with key performers in today’s folk arena, Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones, as well as Emerald Ray. Kirk is currently signed with JZ, China's first jazz label.
In addition, Kirk Kenney is an avid music educator, coordinates tours for international musicians visiting China, and organizes music camps and musical events for all ages.
Kirk is the subject of a feature article in The Global Times, China’s English-language newspaper.
In 2016 he was awarded a full grant from US Department of State for Cultural Programming in China, and spent a year traveling the country performing American music and teaching square dance workshops to joyful audiences young and old.
Bringing musicians together to inspire and learn
Sharing music, history and culture
Creating music with friends from around the world