Amythyst Kiah was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States. Her father (who is also her tour manager) sang and played percussion in a band in the 1970s. Her mother sang in the church growing up. She attended a creative arts high school and taught herself to play guitar. When she was 17 her mother committed suicide, and singing at her funeral was Kiah's third public performance.
Kiah is a graduate of East Tennessee State University, where she completed the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program and joined the school's marquee old-time band.