Since graduating from Boston Latin School in 1989, and in over 25 years of performing his music around the USA, Kevin So is a Chinese American musician who has earned the respect of fellow musicians (Keb' Mo', Amos Lee, Melody Gardot, Simon Lynge), won over members of press (the late editor-in-chief Timothy White/Billboard Magazine, Steve Morse/Boston Globe) and radio (John Platt-WFUV, New York, Rich Warren-WFMT, Chicago), and has built a loyal fan base around the world.
[Amos Lee and Kevin So, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC circa 2007]
Born and raised in Boston, So channeled his early passion for singing into the start of a music career with his 1990 appearance on the nationally broadcast Fox TV show Big Break hosted by Natalie Cole.
19801988 1988 1988
In 1994, So toured the country in a cover band that would later see some of its members moving on to Britney Spears' and Justin Timberlake's bands.
[Kevin So, pictured on the right, with XPO, Providence, RI circa 1994]
It was during that period when Kevin spent a considerable amount of time listening to the early recordings of Bob Dylan. By 1995, So quit the cover band and became a regular on the open-mike folk scene in Cambridge, MA. His strong musicianship caught the attention of Boston Globe critic Steve Morse who wrote that Kevin was "riveting… a smooth, impeccable guitarist." The following year 1996, at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, an Austin Chronicle's music writer took notice, writing that So was "the big discovery." The 1997 release of Individual was accompanied by a sold-out performance at Club Passim and hundreds of shows to follow througout 1998, including a historic concert recorded live, again at Passim, and released as Along The Way.
So moved to Chicago in the fall of 1999, booked his own gigs, performing shows in the Midwest and elsewhere. Busking with Mary Lou Lord in Austin, TX the following year at the 2000 SXSW Festival, Kevin was "discovered" by head of The Agency Group, Steve Martin. Subsequently, he opened for Joe Cocker, Billy Bragg, Randy Newman and Robben Ford. That year was documented in what some folks call the "Asian American Don't Look Back" - a documentary aptly titled HAVE YOU HEARD OF KEVIN SO? (Frank Floyd Films).
[Kevin So and Billy Bragg backstage at TLA, Philadelphia October 2000]
Following the sudden passing of his father on August 10, 2000, So moved back to Boston in 2001, began work on his next album and continued to tour extensively throughout the US. The day after September 11th, Kevin connected with Grammy-award winning bluesman Keb' Mo' and co-wrote "Talk" which Keb' would eventually record (Peace... Back By Popular Demand, Sony/Okeh).
[Kevin So hanging out in Chinatown, New York, and with Keb' Mo' in Santa Monica, CA September 12, 2001]
What was Kevin So’s artistic reaction to his father's death, 9/11, and the loss of his best friend soon after?
The double-disc, 32 track Leaving The Lights On was released in May 2003 and appeared to an avalanche of praise around the world that year. Six months later, Kevin moved to Brooklyn, New York.
[Kevin So at the Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival in Union Square, New York City May 2002]
With 3 other CDs under his belt, The So Must Go On (2005), The Brooklyn Sessions EP (2006), and A Brighter Day (2007), So continued to tour the country at a vigorous clip, changing gears slightly, fronting a band while on electric piano mostly, and hiring some of the most sought after musicians across the United States: Dave Luther of Meatloaf, renown bassist Kona Khasu, and Dan Weiner from the cast of Stomp.
In August 2007, Kevin was proud recipient of the New York Fringe Festival Award (Best Music & Lyrics) for “Great Wall” – a musical based on his life and times.
[Kevin So, pictured left, with the original cast of Great Wall in New York City April 2005]
So relocated to Nashville in June 2009.
Kevin would soon after reconnect with folk music producer Steve Rapson and release 2 widely acclaimed solo acoustic efforts Best Foot Forward (2009) and LiFe Solo AKouStic (2010), going back to his folk/blues roots and performing over 200 shows around the world. His YouTube featured "AKouStic Journey" began on October 10, 2010 ("10/10/10") and concluded on April 16, 2011 on the nationally syndicated radio show Folkstage hosted by renown DJ Rich Warren.
Two months later, Kevin was hired as multi-instrumentalist in the KEB MO BAND and toured internationally with them from July 2011 til September 2012.
In 2013, Kevin resumed work on his next studio album. Through a 2014 Kickstarter campaign and over 140 backers, he successfully completed COUNTRYSIDE (2015) - his first official Alt-Country/Americana album.
Willie Nelson says "Great words" upon hearing the lead single "June Carter Cash."
Keb' Mo' calls it "Brilliant… This album has big legs."
Kevin toured extensively around the US in support of the highly acclaimed album. He was also invited to perform in Germany, Prague and France in 2015 and 2016, and continued performing at several renown venues, including LA's Wiltern Theatre, as well as festivals and house concerts throughout the country.
Kevin lives in Nashville with his dog Monk and is currently booking shows for 2017 and 2018.