She left Johnson City to pursue an acting career in New York, but now a local musician is back home with a renewed focus on songwriting and performing.
Music — writing and performing — was actually a hobby for Kasey Williams while working as an actress in the Big Apple, but after a personal tragedy, it became a way to heal. Williams’ father died in 2009.
“I am an actress, comedian, touring singer-songwriter; basically I am a performer,” Williams said recently.
“There are so many things I love about my jobs.
“I love being in front of people. Maybe I enjoy attention. I love being able to tell my stories and connect with my audience on a personal level. Especially when it comes to my songwriting and the stories about where they came from, because so much of my life is really revealed in my songs.”
Williams talked about her background and thoughts in response to several questions we asked:
What is your job and
what do you find most
satisfying about it?
My favorite thing about being a musician is I get to travel all around the world, see places I would have never have thought to see, meet people and share my music with them. It has been the biggest blessing. I also love making people laugh. I have always had a comedic side to my personality and for a long time I feel like I fought my natural abilities of being humorous because I wanted to be “taken seriously.”
I moved to New York City over 15 years ago to pursue acting and really went for more dramatic roles for a long time. After a handful of years of stepping back from the film and theater world to focus on my music, it seems appropriate that I am now fully immersed in comedy. I am so grateful that my improv troop (Boomtown Improv) found me and recruited me to be a part of the team. I feel like I am back in my element doing what I enjoy, which is playing. I have also reconnected with old friends from high school and we are making short funny films which have been again, so much fun to play and laugh and not take things so seriously.
I find it interesting sometimes — how hard we fight the things that come easy to us. Like we should have to work really hard to be successful, when in actuality it would be a lot easier if we just used the gifts we have been given. It feels good to be doing what I have always wanted to do — act, play music and make people laugh :) I perform as a musician often around the Tri Cities area. I am also a part of Boomtown Improv which performs in downtown JC at the Wallace Theatre. I am also a filmmaker, actress, writer, and producer.
How has COVID affected
you as a performer?
When COVID hit I was traveling full-time as a musician, so all of my work ended. It was a little nerve-racking. But as I banded with other performers and brainstormed ideas to help us sustain ourselves in the uncertain times, I found creative ways to help support myself. A lot of that included online performances.
In a way, as awkward as some of these shows can feel, it made me realize that I have the ability to connect with my audience from anywhere. I don’t necessarily have to be on the road full time. COVID also forced me to be still for a bit. 2019 was almost a full year of travel. I released my last EP in March of 2019 and spent the majority of the year after that traveling around the US and Europe. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to write while I was on the move, so getting still really allowed me some time to sit with myself and get creative again.
It was a big change for sure, but I didn’t let it stop me from finding ways to keep putting myself out there. And now I have new material that I am in the process of recording to share once I am able to hit the road again, So, that’s exciting to me. I also believe that being in one place helped me connect to the artist community in the area.
I only relocated back to East Tennessee from New York City a year ago. The time forced to stay in one place has allowed me to develop great friendships, explore opportunities in the area and it led me back to my acting roots.
Where is your ideal
Oh man this is a hard one because I want to go everywhere. But I do have this one trip in mind — Northern Thailand to Southern Thailand and all the islands, Jakarta, drive through Indonesian Islands to Bali, Auckland, New Zealand (for like a month), Fiji, and Tonga to swim with humpback whales.
This is probably like a three- to four-month trip, but ideal. I have not been to South America yet, so that is on the list too. I mean I could keep going with this question.
How do you describe Johnson City to people who may not be familiar with our region?
Johnson City has grown A LOT since I left. I think I would explain the area as a small town but not super small. It’s become more progressive, which I appreciate. The artist community is growing rapidly and the support and love for art is apparent. Even within the community — I really felt like I was welcomed with open arms. So, (Johnson City is) that too — warm and welcoming. Also, it’s a beautiful area. It’s easy to forget how beautiful a place is when you grew up there. Coming back has opened my eyes to how much nature we are surrounded by.
What’s your favorite
part of the work day?
Even though I am not a morning person, I appreciate my mornings when I can wake up and have time to myself to meditate, journal and get myself in a good head space before I start my day. It helps me focus a bit too. As a freelance artist it’s sometimes difficult for me to know how to prioritize my work. That and night time. That’s usually when I either am performing or when my creative wheels start spinning. So, I guess the times of day when there is not too much distraction.
Do you ever find
and if so what about?
ALL. THE. TIME. About everything. I dream about the next house I am going to live in or the next relationship I might have. I daydream about ideas I have for scripts and comedy routines. I daydream about touring and where I want to take my music. I often find myself just thinking. So much of my creativity stems from daydreaming :) .
Do you have a hobby or interest that might surprise some to know?
A new one … drawing. Never in my life until about four months ago did I ever draw or even consider myself as even being anywhere near a decent drawer. But, I discovered that I like to draw with mechanical pencils. It’s strange to me but I really do enjoy it.
Kasey Williams fast facts:
Hometown: Johnson City
Favorite Fruit: Pineapple, watermelon, blueberries, grapefruit
Last book you read: Something self-help. Always self-help
Dogs or cats: Dogs
Favorite TV shows: Currently “Schitt’s Creek,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Arrested Development”
Favorite local restaurant: White Duck Taco
Pet peeve: People spitting
Favorite musicians: Honestly I don’t know enough about musicians. I am a song and lyric junkie.