Kendra Swanson is an independent folk music performer and songwriter. With strong, expressive vocals and energetic instrumentation on banjo, guitar, and fiddle, she applies a timeless sound to original compositions written from (and about) the American heartland. It has been described as "soulful," "homey," "sincere," and "heartfelt," delivered with a passionate voice that cuts through the loudest of bars (and the hardest of hearts). Her reputation as a leader of singalongs, enthusiastic storyteller, and humorist have made her performances a sought-after experience for a wide variety of audiences. As a soloist, she has shared bills with the likes of Charlie Parr, Chicago Farmer, The Waydown Wanderers, The Howlin' Brothers, Danny Barnes, the Quebe Sisters, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the incomparable Jerry Douglas.
In 2011, after discovering folk music while living abroad, Kendra started playing the banjo in a conquest for a deeper understanding of her homeland and its identity, and met many wonderful folk musicians and writers in the Rock River Valley. It has been in the pursuit of folk music and writing that she has found deep joy and satisfaction in expression. She independently recorded and released her first album "Carry Your Shoes," and sold it on the streets.
When Kendra's father passed away suddenly in the spring of 2012, she became a wellspring of new music and motivation to help others through their darkness. Her all original, profoundly hopeful album, "Kendra & Kin, Live in Rockford" (Vincent Records) was recorded and released about a year later. Her second album, recorded along the Mississippi river, "Go Down to the Low Down" (released May, 2015, recorded with Awesometown Music/Video Production), features a collaborative sound of all-original music that most notably includes the voices of both her mother and sister, as well as many other musicians. Her newest album, "Without, Within," released in August 2017 and recorded with John Taylor in Cambridge, IL, her most intimate production yet.
Kendra currently resides near Madison, WI with her husband Eric, her son, Arlo (born 2019), and their beagle Ralph. While her primary passion is spending time at home singing and playing for Arlo, Kendra continues to perform regionally, as a soloist as well as a part of several musical collaborations. She continues to write, and consult as an environmental educator and professional naturalist.
Kendra strives to make music accessible to all ages, in all places, for all walks of life. Her original program makes booking her possible even if a venue does not pay dues to ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, or the like.
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