King eventually moved to New York to attend NYU, and while there she began making the guitar a full-time pursuit. Her career as a solo artist took off after she performed on the Conan O’Brien Show, and her virtuosity eventually placed her (the only woman included) on Rolling Stones’ 2006 list of “New Guitar Gods.” She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her collaborative contribution to the soundtrack of the 2007 movie “Into the Wild,” and she now has seven full-length albums and a bevy of acclaimed solo projects under her belt.
King says that her latest multimedia show, which combines the auditory experience of her concerts with the visual experience of state-of-the-art projection mapping, is really about her lifelong relationship with the guitar.
“The story of the show is that the guitar, as I know it and as I see it, is in control,” she says. “As a player, I operate at the whim of what the instrument wants to do. I did not invent the six-string guitar. I did not master it. I’ve always tried to push the envelope a little bit, but I did not make any drastic changes to it. Ultimately, it’s been the thing that’s controlled me and driven my identity and career. There’s a bit of acknowledging and paying homage to that.”
For the show, she had an all-white guitar created so the guitar itself could have images projected onto it. “The thinking was: How can I tell the guitar’s story?” she says. “How can I take myself out of the limelight and put the guitar at the center? That’s really the story of my life … I was looking to design a really simple element to my live show. I had no idea it was a Pandora’s Box I was about to open. Once I knew the functionality was possible, that’s when the show really came into being.”
King lives in New York with her wife Jessica and her two children. She says she’s looking forward to performing the concert in her hometown and to spending some time with family here, but that she certainly understands if some audience members still can’t quite process who it is that’s up there on stage.
“I think there’s still a sense of shock that this very awkward, very quiet, nerdy girl who could barely say a full sentence is now me and I do what I do on stage and I have this career,” she says. “I think there’s still this moment where people are like, ‘You turned out fine.’ I’m probably more shocked than anybody.”
If you go
Kaki King performs “The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body”
8 p.m. Mar. 10. $27-45. Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech, 349 Ferst Drive, Atlanta. 404-894-9600.