Ames for the Heart
Hit singer-songwriter Ames gets introspective for upcoming
Image: Matt Alves
When Amy Kuney, who now goes by Ames, was 4 years old, her parents put her in piano lessons, but because she grew up in a staunchly religious family in the Bible Belt of Tulsa, Okla.,all she had on the playlist of her childhood was the music that was acceptable to the church.
“I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music,” she says from her current home in Los Angeles, Calif. “Whenever I heard it, I was really drawn to it, it was candy. It sounded like joy. I was used to listening to hymns and church music, which was kind of heavy.”
By a lucky coincidence, though, Ames attended the same homeschool group as the famous Tulsa export Hanson in the heyday of their hit single “MMMBop,” so pop music eventually became unavoidable.
“It was a big deal, because they were from Oklahoma. We heard it everywhere. That is when I realized pop music was what I gravitated toward. I would make music up on my own. It just started happening organically that I would write my own songs,” Ames says.
A slightly unexpected detour to Honduras got her out of Oklahoma.
“In 1998, when I was 13, my dad was called to the mission field in Honduras. It was one year after Hurricane Mitch, and we moved down there to help clean up. My folks are actually still there. They built this whole community and school. My relationship with my parents has been strained because of my lifestyle, but they are doing good work,” she says.
After she decided to move back to the United States, and won a scholarship to Biola University, a private Christian college in Southern California, Ames started trying to find her own voice and her identity.
“I ended up doing a praise and worship major, which was basically just being in a band and learning to be in front of a crowd, “ she says, laughing. “Unfortunately, Biola wasn’t very LGBTQ friendly, and I dropped out because I had enough songs at that point to start opening for other people and touring as Amy Kuney.”
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