Travis Lee Kern grew up in the mountain coalfields of Southwest Virginia. His dad was one of nine children of Patrick Henry and Lillie Jones Kern, and there was a standing invitation each week after church for those nine and their families to meet up in Duffield to eat and fellowship. It was there that Travis learned the value of a good story. Stories were passed around the table of his Great Grandfather Jesse, who would walk down from his house on the mountain above the railroad tracks with his fiddle in hand, of hog killings and ornery milk cows, first cars, the whereabouts of distant relatives, and the general tales of what folks used to do to get by. Faith wasn’t a separate topic, really; it permeated all discussions.
Travis never met Patrick Henry, who died in a Wise County coal mine when his children were young, but he began to imagine the life that Lillie and Patrick Henry shared. Years later, after trying his hand as a Nashville songwriter, Travis moved back to his hometown of Big Stone Gap, Virginia and turned his songwriting efforts to exploring his identity as an Appalachian mountaineer. In doing so, he wrote a few songs in which he set out to get to know Patrick and the struggles he and Lillie faced. Those songs form the foundation for his debut album The Coal's Low, which like those Sunday gatherings, shares stories of faith, love, and redemption.
Travis now resides with his wife and children in the remarkable city of Danville, Kentucky. Together, they have experienced triumphs and failures that would be solid material at Grandma’s. It has been a blessing for Travis to write and share music about this journey with such a supportive community.