Your Community: Johnson County Library blog helps connect songwriter to global music initiative

Jacoby Elliott's musical career received an exciting boost after being featured on the Johnson County Library Local Music blog.

Jacoby Elliott is a singer-songwriter who grew up in Olathe, started performing in the Kansas City area, and is now based in Colorado. In 2016 and 2017, Johnson County Local Arts Librarian Bryan Voell featured Elliott twice on the Johnson County Library Local Music blog. Partly through those posts, Elliott came to the attention of Beyond Music, a global music initiative launched by the non-profit Swiss Beyond Foundation and Co-Founder and rock legend Tina Turner.

On his Facebook page in February, Elliott shared the email from Switzerland, in which Beyond Music said, “Through Johnson County Library and on other channels we became aware of you and your musical talents.” They invited him to join. Jacoby says he was honored to be tapped by this impressive invitation-only platform, which last year had about 450 artists. He was thankful that Voell had reached out to him early in his career, helping to spread the word about his music. “It’s only a blessing,” Elliott said in an interview from Colorado. “He (Bryan) was my first interview for ‘Is Anybody Out There?’ a message in a bottle, seeking to find a community of like-minded creative people. Five years later I get this email from Switzerland. It’s beautiful.”

Elliott, now 27, taught himself keyboard and was in a band in high school, as well as in advanced choir at Olathe North High. He moved to Kansas City in 2015 and performed at Davey’s Uptown, recordBar and other venues. He studied film and media for a year at KU and now specializes in singing, songwriting and music videos in a genre he describes as “gritty supernatural pop.” His pop persona is Y the Ghost, which Elliott says reflects the existential search for identity and for immortality through art. Two fan favorites of his are “Is Anybody Out there?” and “Hologram.”

He moved to Colorado in January 2019 and was making good connections in the Denver area music and film community, even being featured in a film festival in February 2020, before the pandemic struck. He used the pandemic time very productively, composing and polishing new songs that, as he says, “wouldn’t leave me alone.” He also worked in film, “visual storytelling with the music,” to enhance each new single and released a new song and video March 26 called “Is That too Deep?” on YouTube. He had filming assistance from Bas Tamiet, (artist name Honnéte), whom he met at Olathe North. “Throughout the last year I’ve been finishing up some of my favorite songs that I’ve ever made,” he said. “It’s some of my strongest work.” His earlier work was more dance pop, while his recent is more emotional but still has a good dance vibe.

He’s excited about Beyond Music’s mission to connect musicians from around the world. “It has spiritual overtones of bringing people together, to transcend all the differences that cause so much strife,” he said. He is researching other artists in the platform, learning a lot and hoping to form some good collaborations. Voell was impressed from the beginning with Elliott’s work and is delighted his Library articles helped connect Elliott to Beyond Music. “He has a very distinct, confident vision of how his music can be a visual experience as well,” Voell said. “He is a very accomplished singer and instrumentalist and has a presence and a way of performing that just makes you stop and pay attention.”

Johnson County Library is excited to offer a resource dedicated to celebrating the diverse musical creativity in and around the Johnson County and Kansas City metro areas. To view featured performers, learn more about their music, interests, what they’re enjoying from the collection, visit the Local Music page, you can even submit a request to perform.

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