“It’s all really random,” St. Michael-Albertville junior Kayla Finnerty says of the journey that took her from singing in the back of mom’s car to center stage during this year’s STMA High School choir concert. “Really unexpected.”
Given a guitar by her mom, Jill, and dad, Kevin, for her 11th birthday, Kayla wasn’t sure what to do. After all, most of her free time was spent on ice – she’s now a starting defenseman for the North Wright County RiverHawks – following her dad’s skates.
But she took to it, signing up for guitar lessons and working with a teacher for a few weeks each summer until she was 13. When her teacher left, she starting teaching herself by listening and watching Ed Sheeran.
“He was a nobody and I loved him when I was little, so we’ve kind of come into this together,” she said with a smile. “I’ve played a lot of his songs.”
It was his “I See Fire” that caught the attention of everyone at the concert at the STMA Performing Arts Center last week. Kayla took the stage alone, with just her acoustic and her amp, and belted out the hit Sheeran penned for the movie “The Hobbit.”
It was just her third performance on a big stage. She performed “Wrecking Ball” with friend and and fellow musician Zach Kainz. She also took the stage for the first time last year when she and a friend covered “Hall of Fame” by The Script for last year’s choir concert.
“I’m not sure what made me do it, but it kind of got everything started. After that, I wasn’t nervous to perform in front of people, so I ended up doing the Farmer’s Market in Albertville one day last year and playing everything I knew for a couple hours,” Kayla said.
She even auditioned for the Minnesota State Fair Talent Show, which was a “tough one,” she said. She said she’d like to give that another try this summer.
“I want to keep going” she said. “I have plans to make some audition tapes and get some sort of scholarship for college. I don’t know if I want to major in music, but it will always be there. Maybe college choir or theater.”
She’s joined theater club this year and will be in it again in 2014, she said. She’ll also audition for the Fall 2014 musical at STMA.
“STMA has so many good musicians and singers, I feel like I’m surrounded by a lot of talent. And we all like to help each other out. I mean, Zach has this amazing musical family, and the Lindquists are amazing. Mr. [Joe] Osowski is working with me, too.”
Still, even she wonders how it’s come so far in six short years.
“I think my love for music has always been there,” she said. “But I really got into it when I got that guitar and started playing. And being in concert choir has given me the opportunity to continue that.”