It's been described as "beautiful" and "haunting." At times "sad," and yet "joyful." In one breathe you may hear the blend of Jo Jo Stephens and Leah Hatmaker coined as "desperate," but in another as "hopeful." The world can't decide if they're Americana, Pop, Rock, Indie, or Folk, but one thing is certain in all of the juxtaposition. It's Kites.
"My father always called me a kite in the wind; he never knew where life might take me from one day to the next," says Stephens of his adolescent years, while also ringing true of the perception of Leah at the time. "The funny thing is, a band named after such uncertainty has actually grounded us and become our foundation," he says. With two Top 40 albums and thousands of fans now behind them, that very foundation has become much more solid than the duo could've imagined in their small-town beginnings.
April 2013 found the pair in a coffee shop in their new hometown of Corbin, Kentucky, accidentally booking their first show. Nine days and over twenty newly-finished songs later, Kites was born. After a packed house full of eager ears at their debut, the two realized music could be much more than the occasion.
"It's almost like eavesdropping on a private conversation; an intimate moment between two people," says Melissa Bond, who booked the duo's second and third sets within days of their introduction; sets that would go on to solidify the future of the band and take what was only a friendship into the bond of true love.
Early crowds were showered with hours of heavy songs left over from past relationships, relying on light-hearted covers to ease the mood. But those who stuck around for the ride watched a balance and a transformation, not only lyrically, but in the lives of two people searching and finding something much bigger than music: Love. The new fuel for their fire.
A developing arsenal of clever lyrics and rich harmonies took Kites all over the state in 2013, and eventually the Eastern U.S. in the years that followed. You could catch the genre-benders selling out live shows, releasing iTunes-topping albums, and inevitably joining hands in marriage in the Summer of 2015. You'll find that fire burning brighter than ever today, with the experience carrying them into uncharted avenues, and with new releases on the horizon.
Amidst all of the hustle, accomplishments, and travels, the two have stayed true to their deep roots in the hills of Kentucky, and admirers are returning the faithfulness. "It feels like our fans have become family," Hatmaker says of the connection with their following. "In the madness of the music world, it's like we're the underdogs, and they're rooting for us to rise above the chaos." With such a devotion behind them, Kites looks to be on pace to do just that.