I'm a sixteen-year-old singer/songwriter, and I'm in love with what I do. You know you love something when you wake up in the morning thinking about it, and go to bed smiling because of it. And I do.
I started writing songs about two years ago, and completely fell in love with it. I have over 100 now, and I'm always writing more. I taught myself to play guitar around the same time I started songwriting with Blackbird by the Beatles - the first song I ever taught myself how to play. Now my guitar is with me every time I perform, and I have a notebook with me everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Nothing could be worse than having a good idea in the car or in the mall or in the middle of a conversation and having nothing to write it down on.
I've been singing since I was four years old. In the backseat of the car on the ride into New York City for auditions, I'd be singing along to Miss Patti Labelle and Stevie Wonder and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five with my overalls and Converse and crazy curls. I'm honestly not that much different now from then. I STILL sing along in the backseat of the car, and I still have a pair of overalls hanging up in my closet. A much bigger pair, though.
When I was ten, I was the featured Star of Tomorrow on Showtime at the Apollo, and got the opportunity to perform on the world famous Apollo Theater stage six times. I was standing in the same place the Jackson Five stood in, and James Brown. Unbelievable. A few years later, when I was twelve, I got chosen as a finalist in David Foster's nationwide search. I sang on stage with him in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden. Looking back on it now, I can't believe that happened. Amazing. During rehearsal, I remember David asking me what artists I liked. As soon as I said Michael Jackson, David laughed and said, "Great! Because see that drummer up there?" I looked over to the drummer, who waved a drumstick at me cheerfully. "He worked with Michael himself on the Thriller album." Immediately, they started playing Thriller, and I was stuck between laughing and being a little breathless because he. worked. with. Michael. Jackson. I'll never ever forget that. I won the spot on stage with David with a video that we sent in of me singing Donny Hathaway's A Song For You at Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar when I was eleven. Valerie Simpson had given us the tape personally, saying she just wanted us to have it. Looking back now, I think she knew this could be helpful to me. And it was. I still get goosebumps when I think about being there with them. Especially now that Nick Ashford has passed away.
Being live on stage in front of a crowd is magic to me. Being able to perform my songs to people is amazing. It's like letting them have wings for the first time, and I don't think I could ever get tired of it.
This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I'd love to be known worldwide. Music is everything, and means so much to different people for different reasons. It can go anywhere. And I'll go anywhere the music takes me.
This is...me. Naelee Rae. = ]