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Musical duo Key to Adam, comprised of instrumentalists Kiara Williams (violin, fiddle) and Adam Moyer (finger-style guitar) pose for a photo Tuesday in Charleston where they were honored with the Resiliency in the Arts award as part of the Governor's Awards for the Arts. / Photo courtesy Key to Adam

Key to Adam’s perseverance amid pandemic earns the duo the first-ever governor’s arts award for resiliency

CHARLESTON – A local instrumental duo earned accolades Tuesday for the perseverance they showed in sharing their passion for music, despite the hefty challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Key to Adam, which specializes in playing live, ambient music at weddings, special events and more, earned the first-ever Resiliency in the Arts Awards this week as part of the Governor’s Arts Awards.

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History in partnership with the West Virginia Commission on the Arts presented Key to Adam with the Resiliency in the Arts Award Tuesday, March 1 at the Culture Center in Charleston’s Capitol Complex.

The duo plays live ambient music, with Kiara Williams on the violin/fiddle, while Adam Moyer specializes in finger-style guitar.

“They added the award this year because of because of the pandemic; it was about overcoming obstacles,” Moyer said. “When the pandemic started, we had been playing together for about four-and-a-half to five years, and each year we were slowly building by doing weddings and everything like that. We finally had our first year where our schedule was jam-packed, and then the pandemic hit and just really threw things into disarray.”

Key to Adam started performing their guitar/violin duo on Facebook live since in-person events weren’t occurring.

Adam Moyer and Kiara Williams get a selfie with their new award for Resiliency in the Arts. / Photo courtesy Key to Adam.

“We tried to pivot, so we had to learn a whole bunch of new skills and we started doing the live streams on Facebook, which, the learning curve for something like that turned out to be much greater than we had anticipated,” Moyer said. “It took us a while to really figure out how to do it because everything’s a little bit different with sounds in a room, compared to what it sounds like being picked up by a microphone and then being transmitted and then actually coming onto Facebook, being compressed and then coming out the other end – so it was a huge learning curve.”

Moyer and Williams received a grant from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History to start their live-stream music shows.

“They saw we really started to build an audience because we had a decent following,” Moyer said. “It’s hard to get people to transfer over to watching you on Facebook. One of the benefits, though, is that a lot of people were home at the time.”

Moyer said he and Williams played in several retirement homes before the pandemic and they were glad those patrons could enjoy their music through Facebook.

“It was nice we were able to have some of the retirement homes join us on the live stream because we were able to stay in contact with a bunch of the residents that we had gotten to know and the relationships we had built gave us a chance to perform, make the same jokes in the chat and make them laugh – it was a lot of fun,” Moyer said.

Moyer said they were surprised to earn the award but were happy to receive the recognition.

“It was surreal — a really nice surprise,” Moyer said. “It really opens up places for us to play in the future. We had a couple of places that were on our wish list of places we wanted eventually play, so our goal was to continue to build a resume and then eventually contact those places and this award has opened up doors that we didn’t think we could open this soon.”

They are still performing their live stream shows on their Facebook page, which has been averaging about 15,000 views.  

“We have a bunch of gigs coming up — we mostly play weddings and special events, that’s our main thing — and then we fill in days by playing at the Meadowbrook and Huntington Mall,” Moyer said. “I want to say we play probably 70 days in a year at least at the Huntington Mall and not this weekend, but the next we’ll be there again and then we’ll be back at Meadowbrook around the holidays.”

Key to Adam will also make an appearance at The Outpost and Event Center March 18 for a dinner-and-music event.

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