"Brian Kay moved effortlessly from classical poise to boisterous rumpus... His versatility seems limitless, with no drop in intensity from one style to the next. He is also a rare force: a singer equally strong as a player of plucked instruments. "
-Seen & Heard International
Brian Kay is a modern-day troubadour. He is an Artistic Leadership Fellow of Apollo's Fire and in 2019, he won a GRAMMY® Award for his work on their Songs of Orpheus recording with tenor Karim Sulayman. He was featured on the soundtrack of Netflix's The Witcher series, playing lutes, ouds, other medieval plucks, and percussion. He has performed throughout the world at venues such as the National Concert Hall of Dublin, Belfast Castle (Ireland), Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Folger Theater. His live radio appearances include NPR, Baltimore's WYPR, Baltimore's 98ROCK, Boston's WGBH, and Cleveland's WCLV. He has recorded with record labels Avie and Sono Luminus and has appeared on album releases which include original, early music, folk, traditional sephardic, chamber and orchestral. He is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, arranger, and a traditional and historical music specialist.
His recent projects include “Meditations”, an album of original songs in a modern style with a nostalgic flare, "Play, Music!" a one-man Shakespeare show which combines traditional music and theater (performed live at the Folger Theater in DC), and he was one of three Apollo's Fire musicians chosen to collaborate with the UKs Early Folk Band.
Brian was the first artist featured in EMAg’s column Early To Rise and was the first of three soloists to be featured in the Lute Society of America’s Emerging Artist Series. He is a core member of Twa Corbies and Apollo's Fire, and regularly performs with Hesperus, The Folger Consort, Early Music Access Project, Trio Sefardi and is a founding member of the early music improvisation group Divisio.
As a professor, Brian teaches at Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western Reserve University. He has lectured on music and history at Yale University, The Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University, The Folger Theater, The Kennedy Center, and Baldwin-Wallace College. He was Artist in Residence at the Cushman School in Miami and has done outreach for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and prisons across the country.
"Singing with a pure, centered sound and impeccable diction, he’s a natural-born storyteller. At times a the lead vocalist of a rock band, at times an art-song singer, and at others a shy poet, he had you hanging onto his every word."
In 2013 he released his first solo album, Ocean, covering a variety of ancient and new songs from around the globe. He sang and performed on over 20 instruments, including early and modern plucks, winds, bows, and percussion. His second solo album, Three Ravens (2015), focuses on the British song tradition and the crossroads where court music and folk music meet. He was joined on Three Ravens by an all-star lineup of musicians including Ronn McFarlane, Tina Chancey, Olivier Brault, and Mark Cudek.
Moonsong (2016) is a departure from the early/trad. music sound for which he has become known. This debut original music release combines elements from rock, pop, hip-hop, blues, jazz, folk/trad, classical, early, and Middle Eastern styles. The blending of these styles has created a unique and truly “world” music sound.
His latest album, Meditations (2018) is his second original music release. It differs from Moonsong in that it centers around acoustic guitar and voice, and has a mellower, folkier sound overall. The lyrics are about love, nature, meditation, and personal growth and exploration.
‘Brian Kay was outstanding’ • Cleveland Plain Dealer
‘Phenomenal’ • Early Music America Magazine (EMAg)
'His singing has a sinewy otherworldness which is hard to describe on paper.' • fRoots Magazine
‘Characteristically strong vocal’ • Textura.org