Scene&Heard: Rhyan Sinclair

On a bright sunny day near a splashing fountain, folks gathered with their kids and dogs and variety of good foods to eat outside on a Friday night.  A white tent sat beside the fountain where kids cooled their bare feet, pink flowers hanging down and twisting in the breeze.  For the sixth year in a row, Rhyan Sinclair and her band All The Little Pieces began to warm up to play the Richmond Center Summer Concert Series.

On a beautiful day for outdoor live music, everyone clustered together in the shade and waved at familiar faces. Rhyan and her band soon took to the stage next to her ornately decorated merch table, joined by Jeff Bender on bass, Harlan Cecil on guitar, Sherri McGee on drums, her mom Toni Karpinski on backing vocals, and Brandon Bowker on guitar, harmonica, and backing vocals for a few songs.

Unique to her often country repertoire, Rhyan started her set with a cover of Jack White’s “Seven Nation Army.”  Joined in amazing talent by Harlan Cecil on guitar, the two young novices rocked that song with her voice and his electric guitar. She then took the set into diverse directions, playing originals that she wrote and also co-wrote with her mother along with other covers that are staples of her sets, including Loretta Lynn’s Sin City, Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, and her picks from the songbook of her main musical muse, Dolly Parton.

Off stage, Rhyan is a quiet, thoughtful soul, but as soon as she straps on the rhinestone guitar strap that matches her silver cowgirl boots, her musical persona takes over and you would swear Dolly herself is up on that stage. Capturing every subtle nuance that Dolly has, Rhyan is clearly in her most natural environment on that stage.

But she is not limited by genre.  Not at all.  She moves her band effortlessly from country, to rock, to an awesome almost punk version of “Helter Skelter” by The Beatles, a Dolly-esque cover of Neil Young’s “Mother Nature” and even a blues traditional by Albert King “Down Don’t Bother Me”.

Then right back to some country spunk, she belts out Lee Hazelwood’s “These Boots Ain’t Made for Walking,” Lefty Frizzell‘s If You Got the Money, and Dolly’s Applejack. Rhyan is well in tune with her band, whether seasoned musician or young prodigy like herself, All The Little Pieces is a tight band that clearly finds great joy backing Rhyan and all her talent.

Homeschooled since first grade, Rhyan has devoted her life and education to her passion for music.  She writes and composes her own songs, and has already recorded and released three CD’s, all of original songs. 

Her latest CD, The Legend of Lavinia Fisher, is a concept album inspired by a ghost tour in Charleston, SC, where she learned of Livinia, the first female serial killer in the US. She helped create a video to accompany the dark, southern gothic Livinia’s Song. Inspired by her love for Tim Burton, the video pairs well with her voice and lyrics for the song.

Rhyan is also the host of the Kentucky branch of Balcony TV, which her step-father Julian Karpinski produces. 

They record interviews and performances of local and touring bands on various balconies around the area.  This opportunity has allowed Rhyan to meet and collaborate with other local musicans.

Rhyan sings in a trio with other local musicians Melanie Bailey Pauley and Whitney Acke, covering Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Linda Ronstadt in near flawless renditions of the three original women. She also produces a Holiday Benefit for the Foster Care Council every winter that gives her the opportunity to work with other local musicians. Rhyan is hoping to work with more local musicians in the future, and has recently started collaborating on songs with her mother, Toni Karpinski, who also sang at the Richmond Center gig.

It’s clear that Rhyan Sinclair has a very bright future.  Not just for her voice, which is extraordinary in a way that gives you goosebumps when she sings.  But she is clearly a well-rounded musician in all ways. Her lyrics and verses compliment her voice and tell a story of someone you really want to know better.

Rhyan is fortunate to be able to focus so much of her talent into her musical career. Homeschooling “allows me to let the music and the art be such a big part of my life, and I’m so thankful for it.”

Maintaining her own website, managing her career with the help of her parents, recording songs and recording videos to accompany them, one thing is for certain, her focus: “Always music.”  

Rhyan Sinclar is a Kentucky talent who will endure and go far in the music world.

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