‘We are about creating a forum for artists by artists’
If you’ve yet to listen to Rappahannock Radio you might be surprised by what you hear: two impressive hosts, an intriguing lineup of guests, with a show format and engineered sound so free-flowing and crisp it rivals National Public Radio.
As the show’s website puts it: “Hear that sound? It’s the Hannock.”
Still in its infancy, albeit with four quality interviews under their belt, Olivia Maxwell and Kiaya Ramey are founders and creators of the music-themed Rappahannock Radio, ready to be heard at rappahannockradio.com and soon via this newspaper’s website rappnews.com.
Listen to Rappahannock Radio here
“The name Rappahannock Radio came naturally,” Kiaya says in an interview. “If we’re going to have a radio show here we want to call it Rappahannock. There are so many artists here, so many talented people but . . . often times you go out and you get to see these artists at Tula’s or at DuCard or at different places, but you don’t get to hear much about their process. You don’t know what and who their artistic influences are, so we are about creating a forum for artists by artists.”
“And,” interjects Olivia, “bringing unity to this sprawling county, because it’s humongous. And people don’t know each other and it’s crazy. Especially musicians. And [they can] support each other. And hopefully the radio show can be a platform for that. We hope to grow more things out of promoting more unity.”
So how did Rappahannock Radio come to be launched?
“I’ve know Olivia for years now,” replies Kiaya, a musician her entire life who grew up in Nethers and graduated from the University of Virginia. The pair, she says, ran into each other recently at Thornton River Grille and Olivia mentioned that her most recent radio show — one of several she’s hosted over the years — had been on hiatus because of her chronic Lymes disease.
“So we got to talking and I said I would really love to be involved in a project with her, and would she be willing to consider starting a show?” Kiaya continues. “I said I wanted to do ‘Rappahannock Radio’ and she said that would be great idea. Olivia has all this experience and the contacts and I know the technical side of it — I have all the microphones and I do all the editing and the software side of it.”
Experience she gleaned from her musician “pop” William “Billy” Abernathy.
“I’ve been a musician pretty much since I could walk and talk, being around lots of musicians since I was a child,” says Kiaya, a singer-songwriter who plays guitar, drums and piano. Her band Silver Moonlight focuses these days on studio recording.
Olivia, born in London and the daughter of acclaimed film director Ronald F. Maxwell, has been back and forth to Rappahannock while pursuing her own artistry. An actor best known for her work in the 2016 film Macbeth Unhinged, her true passion she says is music and radio, having hosted solo shows starting in 1998 from West Virginia to Washington, D.C., and across the Pacific to Vietnam.
“I’ve always been into music,” says Olivia, a singer-songwriter in her own right who plays guitar and piano and produces EP’s.
“Lymes disease has sort of hindered that,” she adds, although years of suffering has thrust her into becoming one of the country’s leading activists against tick-borne disorders.
She has described Rappahannock Radio as “just a warm and carefree radio show with carefully chosen guests that help weave their stories through the music they are passionate about or create. A music history show that is in present time reflecting on our culture and a celebration of all types of fabulous music shared through the years. I aim to make new and old music unplayed or never heard to be introduced to all.”
More specifically, she says of the show’s guests: “I want to first find out what their favorite music is and their stories naturally filet off of that. We haven’t previously had a music history base or place [in the county]. Music history is as important as what my father is doing in documenting the Civil War. This is a celebration of music around music, an incredible way to learn where its not didactic and pushy, and you become riveted and fascinated.
“Rappahannock Radio isn’t only Rappahannock, it’s also other people,” Olivia stresses. “But it’s Rappahannock based, and Rappahannock takes priority.”
Adds Kiaya: “The biggest picture we hope to get to with Rappahannock Radio is we’re representing this community that is full of different genres. Full of different kinds of artists, both audio and visual artists, that kind of mirrors everything that is going on with the world.
“So you can kind of get a look at a small community, but also on a larger scale the world. We hope to keep it local, keep in Rappahannock, but then also bring in these artists from around the world that I think can relate to Rappahannock. We have these complimentary hats here.”
Mostly, the two Rappahannock hosts want listeners to feel a personal connection to the show, to the songs they play and that their guests play. And to come away with a sense of what Rappahannock means to the varied audio and visual artists that call this place their home.