Wood County family band Swoape set to release first album

Posted 9/10/20

It is a powerful image. Keelyn Swoape described sitting up underneath the family piano as a small boy listening to his father playing away and also feeling the music through the frame of the …

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Wood County family band Swoape set to release first album


It is a powerful image. Keelyn Swoape described sitting up underneath the family piano as a small boy listening to his father playing away and also feeling the music through the frame of the piano.

The music of their home and of their childhood honed in Keelyn, his sister Kaylee and brother Kelly, not simply an ear to make music but a communications median among the three. Together, the siblings make music today under the name of Swoape. 

Swoape is busy planning the release of their first album, anticipated in early November. Well-known locally, the three will be hosting a large launch party to celebrate the event as long as conditions allow. 

Their music defies convention or genre. It is part folk, part Americana, but 100 % from the soul. The siblings are quick to list the influences from which their music springs. 

“It all starts at home,” said Kaylee, “It was always a good place for us.”

The young musicians grew up under the loving tutelage of Ralph and Sherri Swoape, long-time Golden residents. Ralph and Sherri served as music and youth ministers at Open Door Fellowship at Lake Fork. 

The senior Swoape never learned to read music but could play by ear, and with vigor.

Kaylee explained, “Our mother could read and play as well, but it was our father who would be banging on the keys, hugging and yelling, spinning and dancing!”

Both her brothers nodded and smiled in agreement.

Home was halfway down County Road 2290 between Golden and the northern reach of Lake Holbrook. Growing up and exploring the local area, often with their friends from the Dollar family, was also a huge part of their upbringing.

“Grady and Linda Beth Dollar and their kids were and are our best-friend family, and they lived right across the pasture,” Keelyn said. “We played a lot of music with them,” Kelly concurred.

Recognizing the inherited ear for music, the young Swoape children received music lessons from the talented Masat family. Keelyn received training on the fiddle from Sarah, while Rachel gave mandolin instruction to Kaylee and guitar lessons to Kelly. The Masat family’s success as gospel and bluegrass musicians most certainly influenced the three. 

When speaking with the siblings, one gets the impression that music to them was not simply something that they did, but was rather a constant in their lives. 

Kaylee described growing up in the church and how churchgoing resulted in all of them “soaking up a little music.” At some point, they began to sing three-part harmony.

Three-part harmony is based on three different notes, played or sung, to combine and form a single tone. This is called a triad. When done well, three-part harmony results in a beautifully clear and stable fullness of tone which belies its difficulty.  It is fitting that Swoape excels in this talent.

The very first effort at singing three-part harmony was years ago, and that tune had gone missing.  Recently rediscovered in some old music files, Swoape has produced that tune on their upcoming album. The track is titled “2:07.” The three are very happy to have recaptured that initial melody.  

Another characteristic of the artists is their self-reliance. The Swoapes are producing their own album, with Kelly doing much of the production work. That by itself may no longer be that unusual, however, as all of the music that is produced by Swoape is played by ear, it gives a special significance to the effort. 

After becoming proud graduates of Alba-Golden High School, the siblings entered their professional fields. Keelyn returned to Alba-Golden schools to teach music, while Kaylee provides child care, and Kelly works in metal building construction. 

The music never diminished from their lives. Before individual responsibilities would preclude pursuing further music careers, the three decided to make the foray forward with their album. It was decided collectively that they would forego the contemporary Christian music genre in order to be a Christian influence in the secular music industry. 

Kelly used the words “positivity, joy and hope” in describing the music on the album. Kaylee added that she believed the music, “highlighted life.” In response to motivation, Kelly remarked that he hoped everyone remembers that they do this for Jesus. 

For readers who would like to hear some of Swoape before November, they may call in to FM 95.1 in Canton. The station is known for its support of local musicians and will spin their music. Additionally, Swoape often plays local venues, although their calendar is just now beginning to fill again, after the long virus stand-down.  

The three young musicians, who have been shaped so well by their family and community, are giving back. In addition to their music, the Swoape children are now in the 13th year of running a youth ministry titled Tuesday’s Church. The ministry meets each Tuesday evening, and after starting as a youth ministry, has encompassed all age groups. 

The ministry may be seen as a result of singing three-part harmony and all the goodness that shaped that harmony.