Hey friends – Kia here! I think that one of the big things that Jamie and I have to offer as a duo is our story. While it may not be a dramatic tale, I think that it’s so relevant for exactly the type of people that we want to reach and so I want to begin to share it. As we develop our business more and decide exactly the direction we want this duo to go in, there will be more, but for now, I’ll start with my side of things. My story is largely about figuring out what I want in life and how to mold my everyday around that. There have been lots of changed minds and even more changed mindsets so here we go!

As you may know, I graduated from Baldwin Wallace University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Music Education. Some of you may also know that I have never applied for nor do I plan to ever apply for a public school music teaching job. While it is unfortunately common for students to graduate with degrees they won’t directly use, each story is different. However, I do want to start mine out by saying that I learned A LOT at Baldwin Wallace and my experiences there have led me to where I am now and helped me develop my aspirations for the future. In no way do I regret my time there.

When I started my undergrad at Baldwin Wallace College (it became a University the next summer), I was a double major in Music Education and Vocal Performance. I knew it would be a challenge, but I had a passion for performance and teaching so I had decided to study both. I made it through my first year, but somewhere in between reciting monologues and preparing musical mashup scenes, I realized that I wasn’t happy in my performance degree. After long talks with friends and my wonderful voice teacher (Nanette Canfield is the best), I decided to drop my performance degree (and the extra year/tuition that would have been required to complete both degrees) and focus on my music education degree.

While I was successful in my music ed ventures, I still kept feeling the pull to perform. I continued to do so by taking up every performance opportunity at BW that I could – choral, solo, new music. Whatever I could find! But the idea of letting that go when I graduated to teach full time scared me. So I was confused. (Hint – I’ve found that’s about half of young adulthood) If I wanted to perform so badly, why had I “failed” as a performance major?

The first bit of clarity came during my tour with the Motet choir during the second semester of sophomore year. Performing as both a choir member and a soloist within the choral pieces was life changing. Every performance was an incredible, musical, magical experience. That sounds cheesy, but us choir geeks feel things when we’re given wonderful music, wonderful venues and amazing people to sing and share that music with! It was this experience that made me realize there was more to performing than opera. I had options.

Over the next year and a half or so, I did my research to find out what those options were. I looked up professional choirs and talked to my professors as to how to become a professional singer in the choral and new music worlds – both as a soloist and as a member of various ensembles. The answers that I found were really just more questions and continue to be to this day. I found that it is a field that is still very much developing and the path for each singer is vastly different.

So now I’m at my senior year of college faced with student teaching. I would say that my experience was a success, but while I enjoyed it, I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So here I am at what feels like the most important crossroads of my life and I have this decision in front of me – Do something I’m good at and have a busy and stressful, but consistent lifestyle, but deal with the fact that I’m not where I want to be. OR Give up security and full time jobs in the music world, work freelance and deal with more rejections than what seems possible, and work the strangest assortment of multiple jobs at one time, but have the possibility of being free and utterly in love with what I do.

Well, I chose the latter. I chose to step out on a really tiny freaking ledge on a really high cliff and jump. Two years out of my undergrad I’ve held up to 6 jobs at one time (many of them freelance and very part time, but others full), I’ve been rejected or ignored by so many opportunities, but I’ve also gotten places I didn’t know existed. I discovered that I love teaching privately, I’m working as a photographer (another of my passions), I have a membership at a rock gym (Hoosier Heights for the win!), I’m singing in the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and I’ll be performing with Apollo’s Fire and traveling to New York for their Messiah program this December. Not to mention that Jamie and I have started our own business and we moved to another state.

Adulthood is scary. Choosing a path that is relatively unchartered is terrifying. But all of these things can be SO rewarding. There are so many more things I want to do and I am not even close to where I want to be in life, but I know that I have a shot at seeing things I never dreamed of. My story is not remarkable, I know that. But among all of the stories of the remarkable, sometimes an ordinary story is what you need to know that YOU can do it. You don’t have to be a hero or overcome a terrible tragedy in order to deserve to be happy.

While defiance duo is, of course, a performance ensemble, we want to be so much more than that. We want to inspire young adults to really consider what they’re capable of and explore the infinite number of paths they could take. I hope that my story can be a start to that.