Simply put, when you think of Dimebag Darrell and his legacy, you do not think of Kayla Kent. Kayla is not a camo-shorts-clad maniac stomping out their beer lunch onstage — she’s a young woman with a huge smile sitting in the comfort of her bedroom. And yet in her YouTube videos, in which she lovingly plays Dimebag’s solos from Pantera‘s classic albums, Kayla seems to genuinely channel Darrell’s spirit. In her own poised, chill way, Kayla is keeping Dime’s music alive.
“I feel like there aren’t enough quality Dimebag covers on YouTube,” the guitarist told Guitar World, “particularly for some of their deep cuts and glam-era records. That’s the stuff I genuinely enjoy playing so much. When my ‘Message In Blood’ solo got 100,000-plus views that was so heartwarming, honestly, because that’s a solo I feel hasn’t been done much on YouTube. I put my frickin’ heart and soul into learning it and getting some of those licks and the tone and everything right on that one.
“To see a deep cut from Cowboys From Hell get that kind of appreciation is really, really heartwarming,” she says. “Because I think every song off that album is just gold. It is my favorite album of all time.”
Kent says she’s not actively trying to emulate Dimebag’s style, and indeed there’s a lot of herself in these versions of Pantera’s solos. Maybe that’s what makes them so powerful — Kayla isn’t here to perfectly recreate her idol’s style, only celebrate it to the best of her ability.
“I genuinely adore his playing and Pantera’s songwriting,” she says. “I learned a ton of Pantera songs by ear, and I wonder if maybe that is more accurate to picking up Dime’s nuances than doing everything by tabs. I’m too frustrated by tabs that I’ll only bother to look at them when there’s a complex lick that I really want to get right. As a result, I’m sure I play a bunch of his stuff ‘wrong’, but if it sounds good then I’m okay with that.”
Much has been made of the fact that Kayla does not look like the stereotypical Pantera diehard. That said, she also didn’t expect people to be surprised by her love of the Texan band.
“I mean, I get it – I don’t personally know any girls who are into Pantera like I am,” she says. “I guess I have my dad to thank for that. He’s an amazing guitarist and was going to Pantera shows around the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the late ’80s. So he introduced me to Pantera and their pre-Cowboys From Hell catalog.”
Words by Chris Krovatin