Matt Kersh writes and plays classic Americana/Folk, plenty of soul, with Texas roots. His powerful lyrics paired with his soulful voice create music that is both familiar and new at the same time, comforting and thought-provoking. A chance to see him perform live is something to be sought after.
Kersh is a native Texan, born in Corpus Christi before he and his family moved to Boerne in the late 80’s when he was 7. His father felt led to leave insurance sales and start a ministry in the Hill Country, which was very successful, doing several assemblies for local professional athletes and for Boerne High School. Matt and his family settled into Boerne life easily even though they moved here not really knowing anyone or having any specific connections to the area. Religion has always been a main part of his life, and he was homeschooled and enjoyed the co-op school network the area had to offer. His education was very focused but covered the arts as well as science and math. Matt explains, “Mom has a master’s degree in English from UT, so she really taught me how to become a good writer. She was also an incredibly well-educated woman and she was able to fully shape our exposure to music. Taking a child to the symphony is a very powerful thing. Listening to classical music is scientifically proven to increase your intelligence and impact your emotional well-being and brain function.” In his younger years, he also went into Drama and performed in theater.
Matt began using his love of writing to create his own songs around age 14. A lot of his musical interest began at a very early age, and his best memories of his life are of camping at Garner State Park on the Frio with 5 or 6 families every year. Music was always playing at the campsites and his first dance was on Garner State Park’s dancefloor at 6 weeks old in a carrier strapped to his dad’s chest between him and his mom. His father is a piano teacher and he began teaching him piano and then taught him basic guitar around 9 or 10. His first live performance was at Scenic Loop Café at 16 and he began playing original music at 18. Music has always been a huge part of his life, says Kersh: “Mom sang in choir and has a lovely voice. My dad had a full music scholarship from college. So, I come by my musical gift honestly and it’s God given as well.”
Once he graduated high school, he needed to decide where to continue his education, and as he puts it: “I thought I’d never leave Texas and instead I wound up going to California.” He attended a private Christian University in Los Angeles and attended undergrad in Communication Studies and Biblical Studies with a two-year program in Estate Planning and Financial Planning and went to Seminary school. Education has always been a focal point for him, he says: “I went to school pretty much from age 4 until 28 and never had a semester off or anything, I really enjoyed learning but it sure is nice to have a break from school now!”
His love of performing live began to grow in California and he began playing a lot of shows in Orange County, San Diego and Los Angeles. During this time, he married his high school sweetheart from Boerne but things didn’t go well and he wound up getting divorced while in California. At a certain point he realized that he needed to be back around his friends and family here and returned to Boerne in 2013. Kersh says: “I didn’t really have a plan for what I would do when I got back, I just knew I needed to be here.” As it turns out, coming back to Texas was really good for him and he just started playing, was asked to perform at other venues and has begun booking shows.
For about 4 and a half years, he was playing well over 200 nights a year and it was his sole source of income. As it has been known to happen, he began to have issues with his voice from performing so much. Kersh sums it up: “It’s a unique struggle for musicians, it is really what you love the most but for the last couple of year I’ve been battling TMJ, and it is painful and can be demoralizing to know that what you love the most is actively hurting you.” His plans for the future are to further his career. He continues, “I’d really would like to record an album but it is a lot of money and it’s hard to find the funds and time. One of the main challenges of being a singer song writer is making it work financially and most artists have to figure out other sources of income which detracts from their time and energy to write and book shows and it’s really not as glamorous as people think. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of time and it can be pretty lonely. There is so much work that goes into it that people don’t see.” He’s had to cancel a few shows recently but has more coming up and is planning on playing 3 or 4 night a week again soon.
Working through all of the recent family illness, personal illness and injury has given perspective and appreciation for what he has and is helping to prioritize his upcoming schedule. “For guys like me in the Texas Music Scene, we are just making it and we are playing 3 to 4 hours a night and it is so challenging but I know this will work out and I won’t take it for granted again. I look forward to getting the things resolved and getting back out there. It is a very powerful, fulfilling thing to have someone come up to you and tell you that what you wrote and what you created, that they needed that. That’s why I do it. I sing from my heart and with a passion for music, I believe that music heals and can be a friend when there is no one else is around. When you don’t know who to call or say how you feel, there’s a song out there that can help. I’m thankful for what music has given me and I look forward to wherever it may continue to lead me. I hold music with open hands, if I could never do it again, I would be grateful for what all it has given me and I hope that I will be able to write and share songs and stages for a lot of years to come. Cibolo Brewing and Salvador Dobbs have been really great in encouraging local music around Boerne and I am really looking forward to being a part of it.”
Matt Kersh’s love and appreciation of music is apparent and shines through in every song he creates. Keep an eye out for him on the local music scene, it is not to be missed!