"I was stunned:" Milwaukee native Kevn Kinney on upcoming induction into Wisconsin Area Music Industry Hall of Fame

“I was stunned: “ Milwaukee native Kevn Kinney on upcoming induction into Wisconsin Area Music Industry Hall of Fame

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- He still pictures Milwaukee the way it used to be.

The city, and it’s East Side, an early inspiration for his memories and his music.

“Everything, I learned that I do now I learned in this neighborhood. Being a roadie for the Haskels, all the small bars I played.”

And now, Kevn Kinney is back. Back home, and back playing for fans at Shank Hall.

“This is where when I was a kid. When I was 19, 18,” Kinney said. “I was a 300-pound, 12th grader coming down here and then learning about rock and roll, and watching bands practice.”

And eventually, Kinney stopped watching, and started doing.

He moved to Atlanta in the early 80s and co-founded southern rock band Drivin’ N Cryin’ in 1985.

Not long after, he was balancing his time between the group and life as a solo artist.

Kinney’s 1990 album, MacDougal Blues, was his introduction to the folk scene.

“He’s a great songwriter. He’s got a unique voice,” Zoy Begos, president of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI), said. “And he’s just one of the hidden treasures but not so hidden in roots Americana rock.”

Kinney’s more than three-decade career isn’t based on ambition, but instead art.

He said he tries to make people think, and the songs he pens for himself are more personal than those written for the group.

“I’m a little more like an indie, black and white film and they’re more like a blockbuster,” Kinney said.

For all of his achievements, Kinney will receive the highest music honor in the state.

He, and three other natives, make up the 2020 class of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Hall of Fame.

The ceremony is April 19th at Turner Hall in Milwaukee.

“I was stunned that they called me,” Kinney said.

“To do what he’s been able to do, on a national level, with no huge record support over the years is a testament to a person of his caliber just doing this because he loves and breathes music,” Begos added. “And you can hear it when you listen to his songs.”

Kinney called the honor a “great end of a story.” One that has come full-circle, from his Milwaukee roots, to his Atlanta stardom and all the influences in between.

“I don’t know. I hope it’s just validating for maybe my mom. ‘I told you!’ he laughed. “I’ll definitely be there with bells on and I think my guys are coming too.”

Public voting is still open for the WAMI "People's Choice" categories: PC Artist of the Year, PC Radio Station of the Year, PC Music Teacher of the Year, PC Live Club Venue of the Year, PC Music Fan of the Year. To vote, click here.

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