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RONNI KAY

VOCALIST AND MUSICIAN

Photographer: Antonia Rose (antoniarosephoto.com)

WHAT MUSIC MEANS TO ME...

Music creates such a unique ecosystem for so many people regardless what walk of life they're from or rather where they plan on going. Fans become friends and friends who truly follow the music become like family. There's no denying that music speaks it's own language and having the right pieces in the proper places can culminate into a sound that transcends the human connection and that's exactly what keeps those who know, coming back time and time again.  

Photographer: David Floratos

My relationship with music dates back before I had even taken my first breath. My Dad was a singer-songwriter with professional classical vocal training having been a member in the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir. Several of his friends were also musicians and would frequently play in his recording studio at the house. I hadn’t even started elementary school, yet what I had heard listening to their jam sessions had ignited in me a burning desire to sing and play music ever since. 
My big brother had shown an early interest in the keyboard. He was given lessons and in middle school would eventually be invited to join "Surfs Up", a musical group of the most talented students. My big brother was already my hero, and so, of course, seeing him play live at local events made me want to play even more. The opportunity arose when I was 11 after auditioning with Surf's Up as a Vocalist. Overwhelmed to find out that I would be offered the spot, I finally had my FIRST break! Singing for Surf’s Up for the few years I had, would prove to be quintessential in my professional development as a singer/performer. No where else had I been taught the basics of playing and coordinating with other musicians. 
By the time I was 14 the annoyance of relying on another musician to play so that I could sing proved to be more than I was willing to endure. I eventually picked up a guitar and asked my brother to teach me the 4 chords to a 60s tune called Love Is All Around. I quickly began to teach myself and from that day forward. The tricks, tips and advice I was given from musician friends would be the only “training” I would ever receive. One might wonder how my Dad hadn’t played a larger role in my development with his background and formal training. Unfortunately, his only contribution as a critique for me was to "Use your big girl voice!" At first glance this seemed like a gross oversimplification, although I would never have progressed to the voice that I now possess if his words hadn’t pushed me to find my diaphragm, or “My Big Girl Voice.
My older sister lived in Oregon and was raving about the music scene in the Pacific Northwest. Her testimony had convinced me to cut ties with home in Southern California and join her in Amity, OR for a revitalized effort of pursuing music. The tales of opportunity and venues were all true, however, the majority were 21+. When I finally became of age I had got into my own place but still struggled to find gigs until I finally found a flier for an open mic at Cornerstone Cafe in McMinnville that took place monthly. Without another thought about it, I attended, and continued attending. Not long after playing with folks from the cafe, I was invited to a jam downtown that would meet every Thursday. Those jams were where I met the most important friends who got me dialed in to almost all my gigs and shows. The community around me has allowed countless opportunities and connections with other musicians, bookers and business owners. These days I have not only been able to use my music as a primary source of income, but as an outlet and highlight for myself to share with everyone else along the way.

 

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