Troye Kinnett – Keys to Success

Keyboardist Troye Kinnett Has Displayed His Talents Locally, Nationally and Around the World

Writer / Melissa Gibson
Photographer / Amy Payne

Have you ever attended a concert featuring local Indy musicians Jennie DeVoe or Doug Henthorn? How about The Nauti Yachtys with the winner of season six of NBC’s “The Voice” Josh Kaufman, Grammy winner Sandi Patty, or perhaps one of Indiana’s most famous musicians, John Mellencamp?

What you may not know is that on the stage behind each one of them is local resident and keyboardist Troye Kinnett. Troye Kinnett

“I started taking piano lessons as a kid and just stuck with it,” he says. “In high school I got into electric keyboard, the xylophone in the high school marching band, and started playing in garage bands. At our basketball games I’d gather all the amps I could muster, chain them all together, and when the team was coming out I’d do the big siren you hear on ‘Ridin’ the Storm Out’ by REO Speedwagon. It was just a lot of fun.”

His early days in Muncie, Indiana, and attending a high school of 500 students might lead one to believe his options were few. The high school didn’t even have a football team, but Kinnett remembers plenty of opportunity.

“We performed in the Macy’s Day Parade as a marching band,” he says. “I really found New York City inspiring.  By the time I was a teen I was playing keyboard at weddings, and I think all the opportunities that were in front of me kept me in music throughout my life.”

And the opportunities kept coming.

Kinnett has met and played with musicians all over the world. He’s worked for recording studios, created radio and TV spots for commercials, and performed voiceovers. He’s returned to New York City to play on stages like Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall. He’s worked with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Little Big Town and T Bone Burnett, and performed live with Keith Urban, Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

With each step, he’s living out the dream of a marching band high school student from a small town in Indiana.

Outside of his “regular job” working with recording studios, Kinnett toured with Christian artist Sandi Patty.

“I think Sandi is one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever worked with, in terms of what she can do with her voice and how she’s able to communicate what she wants,” he says. “She covers a lot of different styles and is just incredible. She’s had quite the career, and for me it was a thrill.”

One of the exciting parts of being a musician, Kinnett says, is having the ability to do different genres with different musicians, leading to different challenges over the years.

In 2005, one musician’s call changed his career forever.

“Right after Hurricane Katrina, my brother-in-law and I had plans to go down to New Orleans and move the grandparents back up to Indiana,” Kinnett says. “I got a call on Thursday to record with John [Mellencamp] on Monday morning. They were recording for the Stephen King musical ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’ and at the time were working with two guitars, a violin and an accordion.”

Though Kinnett knew how to play the accordion, he sat in the back seat of the moving truck and practiced for hours.

“Everything went great and six months later I got the call to start touring,” Kinnett says.

His road to playing in the band for one of Indiana’s most popular residents is a testament to the hard work Kinnett put forth for years.

Like in most professions, band members know each other, play together and often call on each other when someone needs a specific musician.

“I’ve worked with everyone in John’s band in some way or another,” Kinnett says. “Dane Clark [the drummer for Mellencamp’s band] is who I’d call in for a recording session if we needed a drummer. We’ve done lots of sessions together. In the same way, when they’re looking for a keyboardist, they call me.”Troye Kinnett

In fact, Clark, Troye Kinnett, bassist John Gunnell and violinist Miriam Sturm all have roots in Indiana.

Compared to Kinnett’s Christian tour with Patty and the instruments used in her softer sound, the six-month Mellencamp tour earlier this year was on the other end of the spectrum – 77 shows between February and June with a plan to resume the tour in March of 2024.

Kinnett plays harmonica, organ and keyboards for the band, and it’s safe to say that Mellencamp fans have heard a different sound on the star’s recent albums, giving audiences – and the band members – an eclectic list to choose from.

“John’s style has changed over the years,” Kinnett says. “He’s stretched into areas like jazz piano on ‘Strictly a One-Eyed Jack.’ That album has three songs with Bruce Springsteen and, for example, the song ‘Gone So Soon’ has a cool, dark, jazz vibe.”

A darker tone is emerging on albums such as “Orpheus Descending” and tracks like “Amen,” which Kinnett says deals with gun violence in America.

Still, Kinnett and the band have a blast playing Mellencamp classics like “Jack and Diane” and “Hurts So Good.” It’s the variety that Kinnett enjoys the most.

“My dream gig would be to play for ‘The Voice,’” he says. “Imagine all of those singers from all different genres of music, with all the different styles.”

On his journey, the husband and father of one son has had the opportunity to see the world – at least many stages around the world.

With Mellencamp alone, Kinnett has traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Canada, not to mention every state in the U.S. with the exception of Alaska.Troye Kinnett

“It sounds very exciting and romantic, but I’ve seen the back of a venue or theater and the inside of a tour bus quite a bit,” Kinnett sats. “You miss a lot of that beautiful scenery but we do try to catch as much as we can while we’re there.”

He’s missed birthdays and sporting events, and other times with family. He’s also shared a Thanksgiving meal in Australia with catered food, alongside Mellencamp, Sheryl Crowe and the band members for each musician.

“It’s strange at times,” he says. “You are on the other side of the world from your family and you have to work to stay connected and communicate, yet experiences like that allow the band to bond, so you make the best of wherever you are.”

Despite his travel and mingling with some of the world’s most popular musicians, Kinnett is very much rooted in Indiana and enjoys sharing his skill with others.

When not on tour, we can still catch the keyboardist on stage at local events or venues.

“We just finished Farm Aid at Ruoff Music Center with John, and I got to see all the sets with Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews and Bob Dylan among many more,” Troye Kinnett says. “That was a great event. This winter I’ll be out locally, with several artists throughout the holidays.”

Visit for an updated schedule and more information on Troye Kinnett.

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