2017 Blossom Music Festival
July 23 – Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
Swearingen & Kelli
AJ Swearingen, guitar and vocals
Jayne Kelli, guitar and vocals
This Florida-based, husband-and-wife singer-songwriter duo is steeped in the sounds of Americana and country-folk, with rich harmonies and character voices heard as a modern echo of the great songwriters and singers of the 1960s and ’70s. Their self-titled debut album, released in 2013, features a track recorded by folk icon Tom Rush on his studio album What I Know.
Unafraid of being fully vulnerable and open in their music, the twosome is releasing a twelve-song, not your run-of-the-mill set of love songs as their “sophomore” album, to be titled The Marrying Kind, this summer.
AJ Swearingen, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, grew up in a house where the classic country records of Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson were always spinning. “I love that music, but the folk records of the early ’70s — like Gordon Lightfoot and Simon & Garfunkel — are what really fueled my desire to pursue a life in music.” He began playing at 13 and started performing professionally in his late teens. His acoustic guitar finger style echoes his influences — James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Lindsey Buckingham — while his silky, soulful baritone voice is clearly his own. He is currently also performing in the highly successful Pops Symphony show The Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel.
Jayne Kelli’s voice is a mix of husky with sweet, tender, and bluesy. Onstage, she wants to be more down-home than diva. She was born in the small country town of Lapeer, Michigan, and grew up listening to her parents perform songs by John Denver, Jim Croce, and Glen Campbell around the campfire. She began writing and recording her own songs at the age of 15. Her first release garnered praise from critics, calling her “a formidable talent with elegantly poetic and emotionally charged songs.” In 2015, her song “Sweetness” was chosen as an anthem song for domestic violence foundations Victim Services International and Angel Wings International.
Heavily influenced by the iconic songwriters of the 1970s, Swearingen & Kelli have developed an emotive and nostalgic symphonic pops show of essential songs from the era — a time period of creative songbird-songwriters that Swearingen believes “has never been duplicated.”
Together and separately, these two have shared the stage supporting such artists as Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, Livingston Taylor, John McCutcheon, and Dave Mason. A heavy touring schedule is on the horizon to share their new album, with hope that the music can help other people cope with their own tough situations. “I think the best way to sum up The Marrying Kind is to say that finding your soulmate isn’t always easy or pretty,” says Swearingen. “In all the dark places life can take you, fighting for love is worth it,” agrees Kelli. And, yes, for the record, these two partners in life and in music believe they are soulmates.