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Meet Kiersten Kelly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kiersten Kelly.

Kiersten, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started singing at a really young age and fell in love. I was made fun of a lot growing up because I was born without my right forearm. I think music was my safe haven; my way to disappear from the negative words.

I was the kid that always felt out of place. When I would go home I would act like the room was my stage and sing in the mirror working on my performance skills. That’s when I felt most comfortable in my skin.

I transferred to Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, PA when I was entering 8th grade as a vocal principal. While there, I studied classical music and theory. I started to gain interest in guitar so my mom took me to Hanger, Inc., a company that creates prosthetics, to get a sleeve that had a pick attached at the end so that I could play. I took guitar lessons throughout high school and when I wasn’t in school I competed in vocal competitions.

During the summers of my junior and senior year of high school I attended the 5-week program at Berklee College of Music with a full-tuition City Music Scholarship which led to getting accepted to complete my bachelor’s degree at Berklee College of Music on a full-tuition City Music Scholarship. I was a dual major in Music Business and Songwriting with a focus in voice. A dual major degree usually takes five years but I was able to complete the curriculum and graduate in four years.

Three days after walking at my graduation, I gave all of my furniture to goodwill, stuck the rest in a garage and made the move to Los Angeles, CA. I moved across the country by myself and with only two suitcases. It was one of the most exciting and scariest things I’ve done so far.

I arrived in LA around 2am and made it to the airbnb I was staying at. That same morning around 10am, I left for my first day at the music publishing company that I still currently work for. The following day I flew to Las Vegas to work the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.

I lived in a small airbnb for a few months while working two jobs and playing at venues around Los Angeles. After some time I finally got an apartment and since then I’ve maintained working seven days a week at two jobs while gigging on average once a month at venues such as Bar Lubitsch, The Mint, Silverlake Lounge, and Bar 20 on Sunset. I’ve also been doing as many writing sessions as I can!

My long term goal is to be a performer. When laying in bed at night after a long day, I want to feel content and successful with my day; I feel that way after a performance or writing session. People say a career is chosen but honestly, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else with my life. Music has always and will always be my life.

Aside from music, I’m trying to step into diversity modeling and acting; two things I’ve always had a huge interest in pursuing.

Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road but because of that I feel more grateful for every opportunity that’s been presented.

Juggling everything can feel like a job itself and can be hard at times but I love every minute of it.

I never really look at myself as someone with a limb difference because I feel “normal” and I do everything anyone else can do but there’s been some instances where I’ve struggled because of it.

On the night I moved to LA it was about 2am and I had these two suitcases that were twice my weight and there wasn’t anyone around to help. I was feeling nervous because I wasn’t sure how was going to carry everything outside. Luckily there was a random person standing by and offered to watch my stuff while I went for airport assistance and I just had to make the decision to trust this person and I’m thankful for them because they were a huge help.

It’s small challenges like that though and without family or close friends around I do have to reach out to strangers for help sometimes. So far it’s worked out for me though!

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a pop singer, songwriter and performer.

My single ‘Gone’ was just recently released! It’s available on various streaming services. The music video was shot by a good friend of mine using an iPhone XS and a DJI Osmo in a space I rented in DTLA. I wanted to go super DIY with it and am incredibly happy about how it turned out.

I want inspire others and show that it doesn’t matter what you look like. What matters is your work ethic and believing in yourself. With those two things, you can conquer anything. You will get told no a million times but that work ethic and belief will be your cheerleader and will get you through every no until you get a yes.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes, Los Angeles is a great city to be in especially if you’re trying to get into the entertainment industry. There’s endless opportunities.

Connect with Kiersten:

Image Credit:
Collin Keller, Alex Melgosa, Sam Velasquez

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