Over the past couple of years, the Vermont music scene has started to blow up with talented individuals like Burlington-based artist Kelly Butts-Spirito, creating thriving spaces for music-lovers and performers alike. Butts-Spirito, who’s hosted numerous events under the name, “Love, Kelly,” has served as a model for the emerging hip-hop scene in communities across the state — including right here at Castleton University.
Last spring, “Event Genesis” broke into the Castleton scene to wide acclaim with performances from CU artists like tyler serrani, PLEASANT BOYS, Ro$e Gold, and Obi the Voicegod.
Butts-Spirito has helped many people boost their careers to new heights — including Castleton’s tyler serrani, who won a contest to open for Butts-Spirito last spring at Burlington’s Higher Ground.
“I felt like I was on top of the world performing on that stage. Nothing could bring me down from that adrenaline spike,” serrani said of the experience.
Butts-Spirito’s drive to connect with people has given him a passion for telling artists’ stories and creating a community through music — a sentiment which local performers have created in their own light.
Will Buck, a member of PLEASANT BOYS, said he has immense gratitude for Butts-Spirito’s influence.
“Kelly hasn’t just influenced Castleton. His effect has rippled across the state. Castleton was just a beacon to transfer the hype through,” Buck said.
Buck also mentioned that Butts-Spirito has impacted the social culture of the Castleton community as well.
“Before that buzz, I felt like the social culture Castleton was focused on athletics, which is dope. When Tyler won the Higher Ground competition, the music culture really broke through. We capitalized on it further creating Event Genesis,” Buck said.
Butts-Spirito said he felt a lot of love for Castleton in seeing the community come together to create these events. The event created so much noise that he even made a guest appearance, getting lots of love from the people he met.
“I almost feel like this is just as exciting as the event happening in Burlington,” Butts-Spirito said of Castleton music scene. “People don’t even know that it’s going to be the next thing to hit. I was just hyped to see that it was happening. It was really history. I will always show love to Castleton.”
He gives credit not only to artists like tyler seranni, PLEASANT BOYS and Obi the Voice God, but also to the marketing strategy that Castleton student Ryan Garrow has taken with his clothing brand, Sacred Sins.
Butts-Spirito said he thinks CU gave the scene the spark to involve the whole state of Vermont, rather than It being exclusive to Burlington.
With the influence music plays on Vermont continuing to build, Butts-Spirito said he is blessed to be in the position that he’s in — even if he takes it for granted sometimes.
“(This) is probably the most special thing to ever happen in my life,” Butts-Spirito said. “For people (who) tell me that I’ve inspired them, it makes it feel that all the pain I’ve experienced was worth it. There was a lot of hard times in my life where I didn’t know if I could keep going or if I was a failure to everyone around me. I’m so thankful and hope to keep creating a path for everyone.”