This website is dedicated to Kristopher "Kit" Austin Barkus. His life was tragically taken on the evening on June 6th, 2014. In the short time he was on this earth he had made many great accomplishments, changed and influenced many peoples lives. A true lover of life, and for life he brought so much to this world. He dedicated the majority of his life to his true passion, music, friends, and family. The purpose for this website is to commend his many accomplishments and to keep his memory alive through the many great memories and impressions he has left behind.
As a result of Kit's loss his family has decided to set up a memorial fund in his honor. Kit's true passion in life was music. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA which is a true honor in it's own. To help keep Kit's legacy alive and to continue to allow him to influence and help people in need the, "Kit Barkus Music Fund" has been created. The mission of this fund is to help students who have a true passion for music, such as Kit, so they can continue to flourish and reach their full potential and goals.
Kristopher Austin "Kit" Barkus was born in Pittsburgh on Dec. 26, 1988, he was the son of Pamela Hemphill and Robert R. Barkus Jr. Passing away at the young age of 25, there were many goals he strived to achieve that sadly he was unable to accomplish. Being said, he had accomplished more than most do in a lifetime. From a very young age of 5, Kit started playing baseball. This was his first true and main passion in life for a long time. He often played up on teams two years ahead of him on which his older brother played when they were short-manned. Joke of it is, other coaches would complain that he played because he was so good.
At the age of 8, kit became surrounded with a group of individuals who would play baseball together until their mid-teens. They achieved many high awards, most notable finishing runner-up in the PA Pony League World Series. All while he was involved in his baseball endeavors, Kit was a very accredited swimmer. To this day still holding many records that remain around western PA. Furthermore, Kit developed a huge interest in tennis which would lead him to end up teaching tennis at the Butler Country Club, in Butler PA.
As Kit entered high school his true passion, and some may say life purpose, came to light and that was music. As a 2007 graduate of Butler High School, he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he was on the dean's list. He then studied philosophy at York College of Pennsylvania and finally studied psychology at the Butler County Community College. At this point he began to tutor other students and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Educational Fraternity.
A gifted musician, he was an exceptionally bright individual with a love of music, beginning with the trumpet and most recently guitar, with which he won the Louis Armstrong Award. Kit was an avid composer, lyricist, and master of the hook line. He recorded many of his songs, sharing CDs with family and friends. In the end the legacy that is left behind is that he was very sport oriented; talented in baseball, tennis, golf, swimming and music.
Toward the end of his life he became very spiritual and was a member of the Hill United Presbyterian Church in Butler, PA. Before he passed, Kit had talked about a few different avenues that he was actively pursuing. Firstly, he thought about becoming a psychiatrist or phycologist because he wanted to help people with their problems. He even would join open chats and spend hours every night talking to people about their problems and try to help them work through them via the internet. Right before his passing, he was thinking about joining the Army or Navy and wanted to be able to graduate with his medical degree to further his strong desire to care for and help people.
Tracks from Just Listen: A Collection of Music by Kit Barkus
Kit's brother, Bobby Barkus, was the recipient of a scholarship his senior year of high school. Having attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA this scholarship was specifically for a student planning to major in business. This inspired his brother to start this fund in his honor so that students with the same interest as kit, will hopefully have the same chance to facilitate their music education. The goal of this find is to be able to help individuals who have a very strong desire to pursue an education in music. As more contributions are made, this yearly scholarship award will hopefully grow.
3rd Annual Softball Memorial Event
WJKO started in December 2015 as a pet project to help my many, many musical friends who had no way to share their music outside of their live performances. I gathered their music and began broadcasting it for them, their family and fans. At the time WJKO only broadcast for about ten hours per day. As I wanted to expose as many new people as possible to the music, I began to spread the word about the station through social media. Along with listeners I gained many inquiries about submitting music for broadcast. In January 2016, I opened the doors to any independent artist seeking airplay. By March I had so much music that I began broadcasting 24/7 and we have been going ever since. WJKO is providing a media outlet to previously unheard voices and we are making a real difference. We exist to support them. We have no other purpose.
Jack Bishop started playing music at a very young age of 11. Along with his friend Jay they formed their first rock band in 1969. As the years progressed Jack developed a taste for jazz and began studying jazz guitar with John Maione, Tony Janflone and Joe Negri. He enrolled in the jazz program at the University of Pittsburgh where he studied jazz under Dr. Nathan Davis. His jazz studies led him to discover the world of Brazilian music and he began to concentrate on exploring the music-making traditions of Brazil. He has lived and conducted research in Brazil between 1992 and 2002. He parlayed his knowledge of Brazilian music and culture into an invitation from UCLA to study ethnomusicology, which he accepted. While at UCLA he played guitar in, and was a founding member of, The World Jazz Orchestra. With that band he was fortunate enough to perform with NEA Jazz Master Kenny Burrell and Latin jazz master Tito Puente. In 2005, he was awarded his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology and began teaching “Global Pop”, “Music and Media”, and “Music of Brazil” at UCLA. He also taught “Music and Culture of Brazil” by invitation at San Diego State University. He remains an active producer working out of a private studio in North Hollywood and spends his days operating WJKORadio.org and interacting with musicians all over the world.
This is the most important part of keeping Kit's legacy alive and to help students in need achieve their goals and aspirations that they might not be able to without assistance. As the fund grows, so will the yearly scholarship/awards for each given year. The sky is the limit and we hope this has a strong impression on people's lives for decades to come.
Please send all contributions to the following address with a check made payable specifically to the "Kit Barkus Music Fund".
All donations can be submitted anonymously. No personal information will be shared with the Barkus Family.
Or donate via mail...The Kit Barkus Music Fund
134 September Drive
Butler PA, 16002
Finally, thanks again so much for everyone's love and support!!
|Year||Awardee||High School||College Attending||Major|
|2015*||Tristan Blain||A-C Valley||Indiana University of Pennsylvania||Music Education|
|2015*||Jacob Cypher||Butler Area||Duquesne University||Music - Specialization Guitar|
*Denotes Innaugral Recipients; Both with very similar goals and traits of Kit Barkus.
Note: Due to space, 2020 is not the last year this Scholarship will be in place; The family asks for the communities continued
support by showing up at the Annual Memorial Event; As through silent auctions and admission fees are what will contribute to
the growth of the fund with a direct result in a potential increase in the scholarship award and years it can be in place!
THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!