coley kennedy chats about life, career, and music

His smooth and cool voice is nothing short of euphonic and emotionally evoking. His life is equally entertaining and inspirational.

An interview with Jackson native Coley Kennedy revealed a stunning life story about passion, following dreams, and letting nature take its course. Kennedy grew up in Jackson, graduating from Lumen Christi High School, then lived in each Nashville and Chicago for a while before moving back to Jackson in 2013.

Kennedy is a singer/songwriter and photographer. He has music records with the bands Welcome to Ashley, The Buddies, and Black Vincent (whose name is a nod to the Vincent motorcycle). His signature sound is soulful and smooth, and features raw, meaningful lyrics. As a self-proclaimed “rock-n-roll guy,” Kennedy’s music is primarily dubbed Alternative/Indie.

1950’s Rockabilly played an influential role in Kennedy’s early singer and songerwriter career. The Stones, The Clash, Echo and The Bunnymen, Morrissey, Sinatra, and Psychedelic Furs are just a sampling of the bands that shaped his style today. As a kid, he would listen to his dad’s records and write the lyrics down so he could sing along. He eventually learned to play the mandolin well enough that his friends could then polish up whatever songs he came up with and turn them into recordable songs.

His style is original and unique, embracing grit and emotion that other music tends to downplay. “Today’s music is largely dumbed down and manufactured,” says Kennedy. The authentic sounds he embraces in his music are independent of much of what you will hear on the radio today.

Settled comfortably into his adult life, Kennedy is fully living his dream as he photographs under the moniker Stay Gold Photo. He takes part in photography exhibitions and would eventually like to create a book with his fine art photography.

Kennedy has always loved the art of photography, but never thought of it as a career. Taking pictures and experimenting with black and white film has been a long-time passion. He attended Watkins Art Institute in Nashville in 1992, where he studied photography. He learned about slides, film, and the inner workings of beautiful photography. However, he wasn’t in the mindset to put his dreams into play in reality. “I didn’t have the ego,” he says.

Spring, summer, and fall tends to bring ample senior portrait photography, along with weddings and family sessions. “I’ve learned that through the winter, rather than get down about the fact that I’m not as busy as other times of the year, it’s a good time for me to relax and do things that motivate me artistically.”

His current muse is horses – Mustang horses. “It’s really neat. There’s just something about shooting in the snow, especially these horses,” he says. If he gathers enough photos that he especially likes, he is hoping to exhibit them as an equine photography series in the spring.

But his music career is far from a thing of the past. The Buddies, which Kennedy is a part of along with a group of friends from Nashville, recorded a couple songs last year – one a Halloween tune, the other a Christmas theme. Despite the distance between him and his group, The Buddies collaborated using the microphones on their cell phones and a program called Garage Band. Listening to the songs, most people would probably never know the group wasn’t together in a studio recording the songs as normal.

These fun songs lit a fire under Kennedy again, inspiring him and the rest of The Buddies gang to record in person again. The group plans to get together in February, in Nashville, to record at least five new tracks for an EP. “One of the great things about recording with them is that something just happens when we get together in the studio, we can get a lot done quickly,” he says.

Kennedy resides in Jackson County with his wife Jenn, daughter Hattie, and son Jude. The creative bug is evident in his kids as well, as “music, art, and riding things are popular activities” in the Kennedy’s world. Hattie loves art, dance, and horses; Jude is into rock n’ roll and motorcycles. Both kids have recently taken up playing guitar. “Jude is obsessed with The Strokes. I gave him a pair of headphones so he can watch videos of his favorites – The Killers, The Strokes, The Clash. He sings along with them,” says Kennedy.

From left to right – Hattie, Jude, Coley, and Jenn Kennedy. Photo taken by Coley as a “self-porchtrait” during quarantine.

The pandemic didn’t stop the Kennedy’s from enjoying music endeavors together. The video below, featuring Hattie and Jude, was shot by Coley as a fun family project. The song is called “Let’s Get Happy” and is appropriate for today’s times. “A beautiful acoustic version of this song has also been recorded by Nashville’s The Smoking Flowers, featuring backing vocals by John McCauley of Deer Tick (one of my favorite modern bands),” says Kennedy.

Michigan woman’s labor of love featured on daytime talkshow; tik tok videos go viral

A Michigan woman is making headlines as Tik Tok videos about her stuffed animal restoration projects are going viral and millions of people are catching wind of this heartfelt service.

Danielle’s own childhood stuffed animal is named Rabbit and is 34 years old. (Photo Credit: Christine MacIntyre)

Many of us own(ed) a special stuffed companion that remained with us throughout childhood, possibly into adulthood. Danielle Allore-Taylor found her calling through her recent business idea. She recognized a need among those of us with long-time stuffed animal friends who have endured a lot over the years. 

Having lost her job temporarily due to the pandemic, Danielle reverted to an old passion and hobby – stuffed animal restoration. “I was always the stuffed animal kid. There was always something stuffed and fluffy in my hands at all times,” she says. Her personal favorite, Rabbit, is still with her after 34 years. Over the years, her mom repeatedly mended Rabbit for Danielle, sewing him over and over again. “She never once told me he was too old or worn, and never once questioned me about getting rid of him – she knew how special he was (and is) to me.” 

(Photo Credit: Christine MacIntyre)

She initially posted a flyer about her restorations publicly on Facebook, but it didn’t gain momentum. She caught her big break when a woman from Illinois contacted her about restoring her boyfriend’s stuffed dog, Max, as a gift. And so, Danielle’s stuffed animal restoration business, Fluff, was born.

When Max arrived, Danielle decided to create a video of the restoration from start to finish. She posted it on TikTok on December 1, 2020 and was shocked when the video “Max” went viral with over five million views.

US Weekly and Buzzfeed showed her video, news outlets are catching wind, and the Drew Barrymore daytime talk show also did a feature on her, which aired January 19. Her often tear-jerking and heartfelt videos continue to reach millions of people as they are shared and liked across social media platforms. 

To streamline the business end, she developed a website www.fluffrestoration.com where people can see examples of her work and inquire about services. Her website also features information about the scholarship restoration fund – a donation-based fund that enables restorations for those individuals who can’t afford the service. Donations are made through PayPal, and a form on the website allows those interested to see if they qualify for the scholarship.

Donations of stuffed animals, stuffing, and other materials are accepted and appreciated, as Danielle aims to maintain momentum and help as many as she possibly can through her restoration business. (Photo Credit: Christine MacIntyre)

Stuffed animals are widely acknowledged as emotional companions, as many people take their stuffed buddies with them throughout life’s journeys. Over time, these special friends become tattered, torn, and dirty – stained with tears and disheveled from snuggles and hugs. These physical representations of our soul are evidence of a special bond that can’t be easily broken. Rather than throwing them out or donating them, people often hold onto them long after they’ve served their purpose. Danielle’s goal is to restore the stuffed animals and help emotionally repair the human to which it belongs – a profound service in today’s world.

Stuffed companions that find their way to Danielle receive tender loving care throughout the process of bathing, cleansing, drying, stitching, re-stuffing, brushing, and replacing missing details such as eyes. (Photo Credit: Christine MacIntyre)

Dominique Linden sent her teddy bear to Danielle for restoration after hearing about her work. Linden says she has had her bear for about 28 years – “Throughout my whole life, she’s been there in some capacity. Sometimes front and center, other times packed away.” Her emotional attachment to the bear developed over the years, sharing some of the most challenging days with the bear by her side. 

As an adult, she had placed the bear in storage. “The longer I had her and the dirtier she got, the harder it got to look at her,” she says – the stuffed bear was a reminder of hard times. “I had been seriously considering getting rid of her since I was ready to move on…,” Linden states. 

She reached out to Danielle as soon as she found out about Fluff, knowing that this was the reason she couldn’t convince herself to part with her bear. “I have felt so much gratitude that it was [Danielle] offering this special service. I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else with it because the emotional ties are so strong,” says Linden. “Now she’s back front and center, and she’s softer and her original color again.”

As Danielle carefully replenishes the fluff within, cleanses the matted fur, and restores each unique project to its glory, she creates the hope that humans, too, can have a fresh start. Fluff is about more than mending belongings composed of fabric, thread, and stuffing – it is about mending hearts, too. Linden states, “The work that Danielle is doing is more important than just the surface level, which is already so cool. Inner child work is getting more popular and for a good reason.” 

Danielle gently stitches a stuffed monkey’s bowtie back on after he has been washed and dried, combed, and made new. (Photo Credit: Christine MacIntyre)

This service is more than a side hustle for Danielle, as these belongings are essentially extensions of the individuals they belong. Each stuffed animal who finds itself in her care receives so much more than mending, stitching, and stuffing. 

(Photo Credit: Darren Taylor)