Kayla Vega

Kayla Vega will be trying out for American Idol in Charlotte Aug. 31.

MOORESVILLE – Kayla Vega is working full-time to make it big in the music industry.

Vega, 23, moved to Mooresville with her parents two years ago from Long Island, N.Y. Since then, she’s released an album and tried out for “American Idol” once in Charleston, S.C.

Now she’s got another chance at the “American Idol” stage, and this time she has a “front of the line” pass – a chance to skip the long line of hopefuls and audition directly for the show’s producers.

Vega has also auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice,” and she has performed at a number of venues in New York; Nashville, Tenn.; and the Mooresville area.

Even if the audition doesn’t go her way, Vega said it’s still an honor to be chosen for the exclusive audition. But she’s also got her hopes high that she’ll soon be competing on a show she’s been watching since she was 6 years old.

Mooresville Citizen: How long have you been singing?

Kayla Vega: I have been singing since I was 2 or 3 years old. My parents know the definite date. It started when I went to a church performance of my sister’s … and I rushed the stage, belting at the top of my lungs … to one of the songs they were singing. And it wasn’t even my show. I just ran up there and started singing. Since then, it’s just been my passion. I don’t think back then I knew what passion was, but I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.

MC: Are your siblings musical?

KV: Everyone in my family is pretty much musical. But my brother, (Ronnie), does classical. He sounds just like Billy Joel and Josh Groban. And my sister, (Sarah), does opera and musical theater. And I’m more of a stage performer, like Top 40 radio performing. … We occasionally sing together. I record them. My brother records me sometimes. We love bouncing off of each other. … My mom actually used to songwrite. She still songwrites. She’s usually my editor.

MC: Do you feel like music runs in your family?

KV: I would like to think so. We are all kind of drawn together by music, and that really has helped, having that influence. Seeing my siblings do it, seeing my parents loving music and respecting it, that made me feel comfortable pursuing it. Otherwise, if they weren’t cool with it, I’d be, like, ‘Eh, I’m not that sure about it.’ I had been pressured – not by my parents but by public school – to not do music. And I hit the ground running with music anyway.

MC: What kind of songs do you write?

KV: A lot of it is about personal experience. So on my album I had written about love, heartbreak, being in love again as an adult instead of an adolescent. I wrote a song about my grandmother, who passed away from breast cancer. … One of my songs is about a panic attack, and it’s almost written like an abusive relationship. How you’re always being attacked and having to back down to it, becoming the victim, but in the end not victimizing yourself and taking control of the situation. … So it’s a lot of real topics to me and, hopefully, other people.

MC: When did you first start watching ‘American Idol’?

KV: I started watching “American Idol” first when I was 6 years old, when it first started. I loved Ryan Starr. … Every single episode when they said, ‘Call in for your favorite,’ I would always call in for Ryan, and then my second choice was Kelly (Clarkson). So when Ryan left, I rooted for Kelly just full on. And when she won, I was really excited. I kept watching it every season because it was just fantastic to me that there was a reality show that helped promote music as a career.

MC: When did you decide you wanted to audition for the show?

KV: Last year I auditioned in Charleston, S.C. Nothing came of it, which is fine. It was a good time, though. It was interesting. But this year, what sets it apart from last year was the social media presence of “American Idol.” It’s a lot bigger, I’m noticing. … So I got in contact with this woman whose name is Shae via social media – Instagram, specifically. She had posted that they were casting for “American Idol.” And you could send her a live video of you singing. So I sent her a video. … Three days later, I got a response from her. And she’s a producer, actually, for “American Idol.” And she was like, “Hey, we like what you do. We like how you sound. We would like to give you a front-of-the-line pass.”

MC: What advice would you give people who want to pursue music full-time?

KV: With fine arts, it’s very hard to find a career. It’s hard to find that pocket of comfort, stability and happiness. So it took a long time for me to come to terms with what this career entails. … The thing that I want to stress is there is always opportunity. It might not be available to you right away, but if you want to be a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, opportunity isn’t always there as well. … So it’s a hard path. But to the people who want to pursue it – the younger people, and even the older people who still want to pursue it – just go for it. Life’s too short. You never know what tomorrow’s going to bring.


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