I could carry a tune at 5-years-old, whether I was singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”
Every single Christmas growing up, I would unwrap CD’s, new karaoke machines, microphones, guitars, or anything music related. In every home video on Christmas, I’m off to the side singing or playing with my new toys.
Don’t get me wrong; my parents didn’t genetically program me to love music. They never forced music onto me. In fact, I made an attempt at almost every sport growing up. You name it; I quit it. It just wasn’t my thing.
It wasn’t until the end of 8th grade when I had my first solo in front of the entire school did I realize the high I got from performing. This was a time when no one knew I could sing (I can’t believe this was ever a time), so it was almost shocking when I poured my heart out to my whole middle school. Throughout middle school, I had joined theatre groups, girls choir, went to band camp, and really started pursuing music.
When I first started high school, I decided that I wanted to start playing guitar. I had been making videos of myself singing to instrumental tracks I found on YouTube, but I wanted to do more than that.
I got my first guitar at age 14, and taught myself every song on Taylor Swift’s first album. I remember staying up late, until I had perfected “Tim McGraw” on my brother’s electric guitar, using YouTube tutorials to teach myself the notes. I was so proud when I could play a whole song through on my own. As the year went on, I decided I wanted to take guitar lessons so I could have my own teacher instead of learning from a computer screen.
I started my weekly lessons at Reston Music, and joined the “Rock Band” that met every Friday night at the store. We would practice on Friday nights, and put on concerts for all the parents each month. This was one of my favorite things because not only did I get to perform on my own as well as with the Rock Band, but my brother was a part of it so we got to make music together.
My first performance happened at age 14, when I was attending a local band’s show at Jammin Java. They were also a part of the rock band from Reston Music, and invited me on stage to sing a song of my own when they finished their set. I played “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” by Taylor Swift, and I can still remember how fast my heart was racing.
That following week, I uploaded my first YouTube video. I was very hesitant to put myself out there, because I knew how critical people could be. I vividly remember being at the mall with my friends and getting a phone call from my Mom telling me that I had received my first YouTube comment.
I was so unbelievably happy that someone appreciated my video, and now almost eight years later, I have over 100 YouTube videos posted to my account.
But I’m not here to tell you about my magical journey with music, because I promise you, it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies. I’ve done enough articles, blog posts and interviews about my accomplishments, and I think it’s extremely important to talk about my failures as well.
The music industry is brutal. It’s like trying out for a sports team alongside of hundreds of people, and only five people make the team. You have to be talented. You have to be beautiful. You have to have charisma. You have to have that spark. You have to be what they are looking for.
I’ve had my fair share of letdowns. In January of 2014, I auditioned for the TV show “The Voice.” I had been approached by a talent scout to audition privately for the producers. He had found my videos on YouTube and as you could imagine, I was so unbelievably excited that they asked ME to come tryout.
I drove all the way to New York in the snow with my parents that Saturday, only to be rejected after my first song. But the heartbreaking part wasn’t the rejection. The heartbreaking part was telling all my excited friends and family that I didn’t make it.
With every email, every offer, every compliment, and every person that contacts me professionally, I get a glimpse of hope. Sometimes more hope than I should have. Some days I wonder why I reach so far. Why I want impossible things. I’m so scared of working so hard to never accomplish all that I want to.
But with every letdown comes a moment that makes me believe again. Like the time I got to fly down to Austin, Texas and perform at the South by Southwest music festival. Or the time I performed on the VIP stage at Blake Shelton. Or the time I hit 10,000 subscribers on YouTube. Or the time I was published in my first magazine. And don’t let me forget the time I got to sing on national radio when I was interning for the Bobby Bones Show. Those are the moments that make it all worth it.
We watched a TED talk in class the other day. The first question asked was, “what would you attempt to do if you could not fail?” The talk was all about how the fear of failure restrains us. Not failure; the fear that we will fail. And then it hit me. That’s my greatest obstacle. Not my personal failures, but the fear that I will not succeed with my music. It holds me back more than anything else.
Well, a lot of things. But it’s the hardest and darkest times that make the sunny days so beautiful. We would not appreciate our accomplishments and the beauty in our lives if we did not experience the ugly first. We would take it for granted. My failures have taught me to work harder. They have made me stronger. They have taught me that nothing worth having comes easy.
On May 1st, I will be releasing my new single called “When I’m With You.” Following that, I will be recording and releasing a 6-song EP. On the EP will be the single, four songs and a bonus track. All songs will be completely original, some co-written with good friends of mine. I am so proud of this album already and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
You can accomplish anything you desire. You just have to want it bad enough. I don’t know what my future holds, but I will always be excited for what is to come.