Jim Kanas


Jim Kanas is an American roots musician and jazz guitarist/composer who has conducted numerous school music residencies for over twenty years. Kanas was featured on WTTW11 Arts Across Illinois and has performed at colleges, festivals, and broadcast media throughout Illinois. Kanas' concerts bridge jazz to bluegrass, folk, swing, and blues. The Chicago Tribune calls Kanas "a master." A Prairie Home Companion's Pat Donahue writes, "Creating a distinct personal style from such disparate influences isn't easy to do. Jim pulls it off with aplomb." Kanas studied music at Northern Illinois University, where he earned a unique interdisciplinary music degree with an emphasis in guitar and American folk music. Kanas sings and plays guitar, fiddle, banjo, and more. His group integrates jazz improvisation with American roots music!

Artistic Statement: 

My program is cross-cultural in tone and interdisciplinary in nature. Through fun, hands-on activities, I use American folk music to connect all students, regardless of background, to American music and culture. Assemblies trace the background of American music through its European, African, and Latin roots. Breakout group participants play conventional and homemade instruments including dulcimers, limberjacks, and spoons. They sing in call-and-response, dance, play juba/body rhythms, tell stories, build instruments, compose original music, and apply technology. I believe this program engages students in creative, interactive activities and allows them to explore learning styles and weave emotions into cognitive and kinesthetic skills.

Residency Type: 
Individual Artist