EG Kight lives music.
"I can't imagine life without playing and singing. That's who I am. It's important to me like my arms or something. Like breathing."
Kight speaks in an easy South Georgia drawl. Like her music, it's comfortable and relaxed. She started as a country singer-songwriter-guitarist, making regular appearances on the 1980s TV show "Nashville Now," but she gravitated toward blues and has become best-known for her blues recordings and her songs, which are regularly covered by blues artists.
"I've been busy," she says, in a call from her Dublin, Ga., home. "I've been writing more songs and I have more artists recording my songs. I've got to work a lot of festivals and theaters and even got to work some shows with B.B. King."
Kight says she always knew she wanted to be a musician. Her mother sang gospel music and her grandmother, who Kight stayed with while her parents worked, played piano and guitar and taught Kight how to play.
"And my mother had a brother at the time that had a band and they would rehearse at my grandma's and I would just sit there spellbound," says Kight.
And then there was Elvis Presley.
"... And Hank Williams Sr. I loved him. And Patsy (Cline). Merle Haggard. Loretta (Lynn). All those country artists. But Elvis was always No. 1."
She saw Presley perform in concert four times in nearby Macon.
"God, it was great!" she says.
It was another artist, Koko Taylor, who led Kight from rock and country to blues. Kight heard Taylor's song "Evil" and recognized the element that had been in the country music she loved.
"I found out that it was a feeling thing. It's a feel-good music. When you think about blues you think its about depression or something, but it's not. It makes you feel good. It gave me a new way of expression with my singing and writing. You just sing the way you feel."
She began singing some of Taylor's songs and finally one night was able to catch Taylor in concert in Chattanooga.
"It was wonderful," says Kight. "I think my mouth was sore from smiling so much."
As Kight's reputation grew, Taylor began to record Kight's songs.
"She'd call and just sing and sing over the phone. One day, I think I was driving through Atlanta and she called me and just went to singing and she went, 'Oh, I don't know if that's right. Is that right? Do you like that?' I told her, 'Do you understand you could sing 'My dog has fleas' and I'd love it?' ... And then later on she sang a duet on one of my albums. We were good friends. I sure do miss her."
Kight says one of the greatest joys is hearing another aritist record what she's written.
"When they record it you never know how it's gonna turn out. I think every artist brings something new to the table. It's like unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning. You can't wait to hear what they did with it."
Kight has also stretched out and begun producing albums for other artists. She recently produced the album "Just Like Honey" for Lisa Biales.
Aside from that, Kight just works to get better as a songwriter and a performer.
"I feel like I'm definitely growing as a songwriter," she says. "Recently my lyrics are coming from a deeper place. I'm crossing genres with my writing now. For quite a while I was more concentrated on the blues. But now, what I'm writing recently has been more, I don't know what you would call it, maybe singer-songwriter type, more Americana. And gospel. I've written some gospel songs. But I'm still writing blues. Don't get me wrong!"
And while she lists Dolly Parton and Hank Williams Sr. as models of artists who created the type of simple songs she strives for, a more recent artist has also caught Kight's ear.
"I was in Germany and had been there about three weeks and all I was hearing was German talking and German TV, but there was a radio station that played a lot of American music and I kept hearing these one or two songs ... I didn't know who it was, but I fell in love with these songs and I didn't know who it was. I looked them up on the Internet and it was Lady Gaga."
EG Kight Second Harvest Benefit
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17
Where: Relix Variety Theatre, 1208 N. Central
Tickets: $21.50 (all ages show), available at www.Relixvariety.com
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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