chapter three

When I was ten years old, a new television show premiered that changed the face of reality competition shows. The premise was finding undiscovered talent nationwide and giving them the opportunity to showcase their singing abilities in hopes that they’d be crowned the new American Idol.

The show skyrocketed to success. After all, American Idol was the first of its kind. Singers and non-singers alike glued their faces to the TV, rooting for these underdogs that finally were given the spotlight they deserved. That finally had a platform to live out their dreams.

The show was beautiful and thrilling to watch, inspiring as well.

But nothing was more inspiring than the winner of that first season, 20-year-old Kelly Clarkson.

I remember watching her audition. She was fun, quirky. One of those people that captivates the room with her charm.

And she was from Texas!! Her hometown was maybe 15 miles away from where I lived, so with all that combined she instantly became my favorite.

When she sang “At Last” you could see it on the judge’s faces. This girl wasn’t just a shining light personality-wise, she was a star.

I was weeping in happiness when she won. “A Moment Like This” became my new go-to karaoke tune. And as she continued releasing incredible songs, my respect and love for her grew tenfold. She was my first concert ever and I remember how perfect it was, how happy I was to be feet away from someone I aspired to be like.

So, now, to be touring with her as her opener, to be sharing the stage singing beside her…is bigger than I ever would have dreamed for myself.

I hadn’t met her yet. The boys had already met her and only had incredible things to say, but I was so nervous still! I knew she was so down to earth. I knew she had an incredible rep for being the kindest person ever! And I respected that she kept her priorities straight and her family close to her.

So when I walked in to our first rehearsal together I expected to crumble in a “oh my gosh, IT’S YOU” excited kind of way, just as I had when meeting other inspirations of mine. Y’know, the searing hot, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath reaction. She was such a crucial part of my life as a growing singer, how could I not totally freak out?

But you know what was so cool?

When she walked on stage and went on this spiel about how her day was a little behind, etc she became incredibly real.

Kelly wasn’t this intimidating distant celebrity, she wasn’t some cookie cutter star. She was honest, kind. Making fun of herself and us. It was as if we’d known her for years.

And that’s special. Not just because she is a celebrity. But because she’s that type of person that embraces you with kindness from the first word.

Someone that makes you feel loved and special by being in their presence.

Someone that makes you feel right at home.

So by the time our first show came around, I was ecstatic. I will always remember that performance, how much fun it was. The adrenaline rush of the crowd, the excitement over how great the sound quality was.

And added bonus? We get to watch Kelly perform every night. 

:)

Standing over on the side, watching her on stage that first night made me emotional. I thought to myself, “Wow. I cannot believe this is real.”

What would ten year old me have said, if she’d known one day she’d get to meet one of her idols?

Not only that, but be on stage with her?

As I was belting along with her set, I felt so full then. So happy. So complete. And so incredibly honored and blessed.

I thought of my mom taking me to that concert thirteen years ago. I thought of her always urging me to be a strong female singer, just like Kelly Clarkson.

I thought of karaoke with my friends in middle school.

I thought of my longest and best friend Will driving me for sno-cones in high school while belting “My Life Would Suck Without You” in the car.

I thought of my senior recital where Scott and I mashed up “Halo” and “Already Gone.”

And I teared up because I always wanted to be like the incredible woman in front of me. She was given a chance and seized the opportunity that not everyone is fortunate enough to get. And she gives back because she knows how important that is. And I pray that my career trajectory stays similar to hers.

How cool is it that someone can be a part of so many beautiful memories in different walks of my life? That her music is a part of so many happy memories?

I hope it stays that way and I’m sure it will.

After all, I’m looking forward to many new memories with some new Kelly songs! Many new friends and new learning experiences.

And best of all knowing that in this crazy industry, staying true to yourself and speaking up for your beliefs works. Never have I ever heard anyone spoken of so highly as Kelly.

And that’s more inspiring than anything else.

Love,

Kirstin

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