Sweet sixteen | VailDaily.com

Sweet sixteen

Daily Staff Report

VAIL – Sonya Kitchell is an eloquent songwriter, a dazzling singer and an old soul. It’s just so happens that she is also only 16. Kitchell will take the stage at the Ford Amphitheater Tuesday as part of the Bud Light Hot Summer Nights free concert series, graciously underwritten by Donna Giordano. Kitchell’s music is an understated, largely acoustic affair. She seamlessly melds elements of jazz, R&B, folk, and other root forms in a song-serving, rather than a genre-adhering, way. There is undeniable warmth and wholesomeness to Kitchell’s dusky alto, and once the listener gets past the initial shock of the youth of its source, a truly melodically pleasing experience awaits. When asked why adults relate so strongly to the songs of such a young siren, Kitchell responds “My dad was an abstract painter, and when people look at {his art} they see what they want to see, or what they need to see in it,” she said. “So I try to write in a way that people can take from it what they need to take from it, and they can hear what they need to hear. So I think maybe that’s why it works.”Good answer. Still not convinced?

“I’m more bored with the kiddie angle than most, but I’ll make an exception for gifted teenage singer-songwriter Sonya Kitchell,” says Newsday’s Martin Johnson. “Kitchell has a thick, edgy voice full of jazz phrasing, like Alana Davis or Janis Ian, and applies it to thoughtful, hopeful lyrics.”Indeed, by most accounts, the days are numbered until Kitchell’s makes it big.”Her engaging voice is only one part of the package,” said L.A. Times critic Don Heckman. “Add to that her songwriting, her expressive interpretations, her sophisticated musical choices and her slender, blonde beauty. It seems only a matter of time before this fascinating performer moves into the national spotlight.”And don’t bet against her.”My whole life I’ve been a sponge for everything around me,” Kitchell says. “I soak it up, and I want to take as much of it as I can and make it part of myself. When I listen to something that I think is amazing, rather than think, ‘I could never do that,’ I think, ‘I want to do that, and I am going to do that.”

Kitchell takes the stage at 6:30 p.m., with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. Following the concert, join the Bud Light Post Party at Los Amigos.

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