The Local Technique of Missoula Singer Kira Means


Kira Means is as provincial as a quick trek up Waterworks hill or discussing life over a fat burrito downtown at Taco del Sol. She is as local as Brennan’s Wave or the distinctly panoramic view of the Clark Fork River from the Higgins Street overpass. Means is as small-town as Missoula gets.

The 17-year-old singer can be heard and seen performing at our farmers’ markets, festivals, and saloons. Her pleasant sounds and pleasing disposition continually leaves audiences enamored. Indeed, she has gained a homegrown admiration society in the form of folks such as David Boone, Tom Catmull and other Missoula stalwarts.

Friends and strangers encourage her to take her talents to a wider arena. They understand that she has many talented arrows in her quiver, and often attempt to nudge her into a larger arena.


“I get a lot of comments about appearing on The Voice and things like that,” says Means, born and raised in the Rattlesnake area of Missoula. “It’s a common comment.”

Means, who begins classes in the fall at the University of Montana as an undeclared major, has been singing since she could talk and began playing the guitar at age 8. She is a self-taught pianist, who added the ukulele to her repertoire after listening to an Eddie Vedder record; a girl who lovingly experiments with the cool sounds of the banjo. A former Hellgate high-school choir kid, she is passionate about jazz and blues music and incorporates a neat mix of genres into her approach.


“I try not to exclude any music,” says Means. “I don’t like to identify myself by things I don’t like. You won’t hear me say ‘I like all kinds of music, except…’”

In August, Means releases an eight-track CD full of originals called “You are Here.” She has played solo acoustic shows and pulled in audiences at The Top Hat, and says she will continue to pick up new gigs in new venues. Her music is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, rhythm, order and harmony.

“One of my goals for the summer is to play as much as I can,” says Means. “It’s not too demanding of a time or schedule for me right now.”

Kira Means is a disciple of the Tom Catmull school of musical thought: play local, play out of sheer love, always leave the crowd with good memories, and if good things happen, so be it.

“I feel as if Tom Catmull could make it bigger, if he wanted to,” says Means. “I like that. I like that he stays in Missoula. He’s a local treasure and we don’t have to share it.”

Missoula is musically enriched locale, and Means is proud to be a part of the city’s artistically-inclined presence. Rooted in its vitality, she has received guitar lessons from Catmull, and more than seven years’ worth of voice lessons from Eden Atwood.

“It’s very cool to get to know the people who make this such a great music town,” says Means.


Means is still learning the tricks of how to be a more proficient performer. In fact, gaining knowledge is one of her favorite pastimes. She tries to collect as much knowhow as she can about philosophy, social science, writing, psychology, and other pursuits. It is not the promise of wealth or splendor that she derives contentment, but rather pure self-enjoyment.

At present, Means is just fine adhering to that ‘local first’ way of life.

“Missoula is a great place to live, and I love to play in such a beautiful location,” says Means. “That makes me happy.”