There’s nothing like sitting down for coffee with someone that totally gets you. That’s how I felt when artist, Kendal Conrad and I met at Frothy Monkey last night. We bonded over being from Pennsylvania and loving Whitney Houston and horror films – you should’ve been there! But since you weren’t, I’ll do my best to fill you in on all the things this talented, fun-loving artist is up to.
I was originally supposed to interview Kendal on Monday night, but because my body just isn’t used to 80 degree weather in November, I was in bed watching Criminal Minds by 6:30 p.m. I found out last night however, that Kendal moved to Nashville on Monday! That just shows you the drive and perseverance this girl has. She scheduled an interview on the day of her move to an entirely new city! That’s the definition of moxie; and yes, I’m bringing back “moxie.”
“Growing up, I never thought people considered music a hobby,” Kendal responded when I asked when she realized her love for music was something she wanted to pursue as a career. “It didn’t seem strange to pursue singing as a career, it just seemed like any other job choice someone would have as a child. I still have those flip books we used to make in elementary school that say, ‘my name is Kendal and I’m a singer…’ or, ‘I’m going to be a singer when I grow up.’ I attribute that a lot to my parents who aren’t musical, but just love music.”
Pageants were a big part of Kendal’s early teen years and seemed to be the stepping stones to her current career.
“My mom was a pageant queen and I just kind of started doing it for notoriety. I thought it was a great way to build my resume and I never expected to get as far as I did. I tried them a few times before I was named Miss PA Teen Talent. That led to nationals and internationals just became the cherry on top!”
This is the moment of the interview that Kendal and I made all the people sitting around us move their seat because we couldn’t contain our excitement over our shared love for Whitney Houston. (I mean really people… did you think you could actually quietly read at a coffee shop on a Wednesday night?)
“Whitney was my first musical obsession. I was so young and I would sing ballads of hers, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. In my opinion, Whitney has the best voice ever and while I have navigated towards country music and Reba is my new current obsession, there’s no denying Whitney’s talent.”
While we were on the subject I had to address the elephant in the room; a rumor I heard that Kendal owned one of Whitney’s dresses from the 90’s. I stayed calm, cool and collected… until I blurted out,
“CAN I SEE IT?!”
Kendal laughed, “I definitely have a picture somewhere! It’s actually the dress I wore when I won PA talent. My mom always wraps one gift every birthday that says ‘open last’ because she can’t remember which is which when they’re all wrapped. When I first took it out I just thought it was a beautiful gown for me to wear when I perform ballads, but then she showed me the certificate of authenticity and I just freaked out! I tried it on and it fit like a glove.”
For just a young age, Kendal has already experienced some things that people are still aspiring to later in life. The pinnacle of her career thus far you ask? How about singing with Keith Urban at his PA tour date.
“That stuff never happens to me,” she humbly started, “I just happened to be on Facebook when Keith posted that he was looking for female vocalists to singing Miranda’s part in ‘We Were Us’ for a bunch of stops along his tour. It wasn’t even like a contest with a form or anything, it was just like ‘submitted a video, we’ll review them and contact the people we want to sing!
I remember I was downstairs playing playstation and I heard the answering machine in the other room, then my mom started running through the house and brought me the phone! My hands were shaking while they told me that I was chosen and it was the best experience of my life!”
With so much time dedicated to the music and performing, I wanted to know what Kendal did in her free time.
“I read… a lot,” she laughed. “My New Years Resolution was to read 100 in a year. I have an account on Good Reads that tracks my progress with that and let’s me know how I’m doing. Right now I’m 14 books behind, so I’m hoping I can make it by January!”
“That’s when you read children’s books,” I joked.
“I only did that once!” She admitted. “Remember that book, ‘In a Dark Dark Room’ from when were younger? I definitely made that count for one of my books. Sometimes I read plays too. I’m just trying to reach my goal,” she laughed.
“It’s really cool when people reach out and ask me to try their product!”
Kendal has done everything from live performances opening for Phil Vassar and performing for Nicholas Sparks. The young artist was even featured on the one and only season of MTV’s show, Copy Cat. The show featured aspiring artist singing the hits of legends and trying to be as true to character as possible. Kendal was assigned Miranda Lambert and I imagine, definitely did her justice!
She doesn’t only cover songs though, her single “Country Queen” is available for purchase on iTunes.
“I don’t just have to sit down and force myself to write,” Kendal explained her songwriting process. “I don’t make myself write everyday, I just wait to be inspired. Once I have something in my mind for more than three days I think ‘hey, this is catchy’ and I run with it! If I forget an idea that I had, I usually just come to the realization that it wasn’t catchy enough and move onto the next thought or phrase. I don’t tape them. I’m old fashioned in that sense and I write them out.”
Speaking of lyrics, I asked Kendal what her lyrical mantra would be.
“My mom is my lyric,” she sweetly put. “She is always so positive and inspiring. She never gets down and she’s always there to talk to! Living in Nashville now, I love that technology can allow me to still “drink coffee” with her. I actually skyped her after I went to Jam coffee house the other day and it was just like I was home.”
With a powerful voice and a heart of gold, there’s no doubt in my mind that Kendal will win over Nashville. If you haven’t checked her out yet, you definitely should do yourself a favor and listen. This won’t be the last time you hear her name.