The Kennedy Center

Kris Halpin


Kris Halpin is a singer, songwriter and disabled person. Drawing on influences as varied as Ryan Adams, Steve Vai, the Beatles and Metallica, Kris has been a prolific songwriter-guitarist from an early age. Kris has Cerebral Palsy, a condition that has affected his ability to play traditional instruments. By 2015, Kris’ impairment had deteriorated to such an extent that he was unable to perform live with a guitar, and was preparing to quit performing music for good. Through a charity in the UK called Drake Music, Kris was introduced to Grammy Award winning musician Imogen Heap, who was developing a groundbreaking instrument called gloves. This wearable technology allowed Heap to recreate her electronic music in a new, visually striking, gestural way, without being reliant on traditional electronic instruments. It was also apparent that this technology could be harnessed as a groundbreaking new accessibility tool for mobility impaired musicians like Kris.

Kris is the first artist ever to use the gloves in this context and explore there potential as an accessibility tool. in 2016 Kris began touring a live show, The Gloves Are On, which explored this new technology to reimagine his guitar-based music in a completely new and innovative way. The tour was hugely well received during it’s initial week-long run in the UK, and has since continued to be performed across the UK and Europe. Kris’ work has gathered considerable media attention in the UK, with appearances on BBC One, BBC Radio 1, and regular features in national newspapers in the UK. Most recently, the show has been nominated for a prestigious award in the UK; the National Lottery Awards Best Arts Project.

Watch Past Performances

Video 7/26/2017: Jean Kennedy Smith Series

As part of the Jean Kennedy Smith Series, this performance features musicians who use technology – from robotics to digital instruments – in their creative process. Through the combination of art, design, and technology, these musicians explore the possibilities of the creative future.

Presented in collaboration with the Artful Innovation: Inclusive Design and Technology exhibit from July 20-August 30, 2017 in the Hall of States.