Megan Kelly pursuing her love of music

Kelly released her first song, Next Step Girl, as a singer/songwriter attending college in Alberta

April 8, 2024, 11:29 am
Ashley Bochek

Rocanville’s Megan Kelly

Megan Kelly is achieving some musical milestones this month with the release of her first single, Next Step Girl, and the upcoming release of her first EP, Reflect.

Kelly, who grew up in Rocanville, is attending Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta enrolled in a Singer/Songwriter program.

The interview follows:

How important is music to you and how big of a role does it play in your life—both growing up and now?
Wow. It has been my whole life there is no denying it. From growing up in a super musical family of generations of music it has been in my life ever since before I was born with grandma Delta and grandpa Terrance doing shows together, through to my Uncle Anthony and my dad Blake, and my Uncle Brian and all my other uncles doing music, and just passing it down to me.

It is something that has been a massive influence in my life and the talent that my cousins have, Olivia who plays the fiddle, and the voices they all have, it has always been something I have looked up to and strived for, especially the talent from the multiple generations of my family, which is really cool.

You grew up in a very musical family. Did that make it easier for you to follow this path?
Easier and harder in a way. Also coming to school where nobody knows my family is definitely a change. Everybody has their expectations and lots of the times those expectations are great, and I find it fun to break the expectations.

I grew up watching the girls take piano lessons and I begged my mom for piano lessons when I was four years old and no other piano teacher would take me other than the lovely Marilyn Hickie.

Being able to grow up in it, surrounded by music, made it easier. My family is so encouraging, and I appreciate it so much. The love is so real.

Just being able to constantly be around that, and around people who believe in you and are constantly encouraging you, is very, very refreshing and I take it for granted too often.

When did you start writing songs?
I started writing songs about grade 10 or 11 to get out of English projects in high school.

Luckily my English teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Kingdon, was willing for me to let my creative juices fly a little bit. That’s kind of where I first started.

We had a project on mental health issues that people face, and I wrote mine on anxiety that young adults face and it is a really cringey song to look back on now, but that is how I got started.

I created an outlet, or a way for me to process things in life.

Did you always think of music as something you could dedicate your life to and make a career out of?
Not always, no. It kind of just sort of happened this year. Originally when I was younger, I wanted to do a lot of different jobs as a lot of kids do growing up, but my family obviously does music on the side and it was never a main source of income per se.

I just kind of assumed that I would just do it for fun too, but with a lot of encouragement and being a little more educated about the industry taking my program here, I came to realize that I could make music my career.

I originally wanted to take over the family farm when I was younger, but now it has kind of grown into not seeing myself truly love what I do in anything else. We’ll see where this goes, there are no expectations and there are a lot of people that have discouraged me in taking this route, but it’ll be a journey and I am willing to tread that path and see where it goes, Lord knows.

In the studio recording Megan Kelly’s first EP. She is studying at college to become a singer/songwriter.<br />


Walk me through the process of writing a song. Does the music come first, do the lyrics come first, how does it all come together?
My inspiration kind of changes with every song. I think songwriters in general, when people ask that question, it really depends. For lots of people lyrics come first, but for me they both morph into one—the musical aspect and the lyrics. I always have a long list of lyric ideas that I would love to use in a song one day and I go through that and pick and choose what I want, so I guess lyrics do come first and then it just goes into one. You get out the guitar, the piano and figure it all out from there.

How excited are you to be attending college to study singing/songwriting? And where are you going to school?
I am in Three Hills, Alberta which is in between Calgary and Edmonton. I am about 40 minutes from Drumheller. Prairie College is a Christian based college that offers this singing and songwriting program. It is a two-year program that strives to help young songwriters to learn about songwriting techniques, the music business, about arrangement and composing, and marketing, it kind of gives a massive overview of all things music.

I like to call it our thesis statement, like masters programs have thesis statements and we kind of have our version of a thesis statement which is recording, producing, and writing our own Extended Play (EP), which is a smaller version of an album. I come out with five songs that I have written, and I’ve worked with a producer in Calgary that we are connected with through the college, and we got to do that as our final project.

Not only do we get to produce music, but we are graded on it, so we get to plan a whole show which is April 25. We plan and prep a whole show with musicians, stage directors and stage production. It is a big thing, we also sell our CDs at this showcase that we have produced.

What are the next steps for pursuing this career?
I am trying my best to just be able to pursue music with everything I have.

I am always trying to write, so being able to come out with some more music in the future would be ideal for sure and I am booking gigs this summer for weddings, fundraisers, or celebrations of any kind.

I am doing some shows in Moosomin, I just got booked for the Kinettes Fundraiser in May for their little coffee house event.

I booked my first hometown show in Rocanville at the Rocanville Hall on May 20 to release my EP to my hometown because they are my roots and the reason why I got here, so just to get to do that is exciting.

That is what I want to do as a musician, to bring the creative arts to small towns that don’t get artists who come through often and just bring joy to these small towns that don’t have a lot of community events.

Your first single is “Next Step Girl.” Tell me about that song and where it came from.
It’s actually crazy how this song came to be. I wrote it in the basement of my auntie and uncle’s house in Medicine Hat while I was out for Thanksgiving Dinner. Much to my mother’s dismay I didn’t spend as much time with them as I probably should have and was writing a song instead.

It was the second last song that I added on my album and it’s kind of just encompasses the idea of growing up, noticing the change of emotions and our attitude toward life and how we are so full of wonder as kids and don’t have a whole lot to worry about, and just being able to live life freely and having a tender heart in it.

Then, once we grow up, the demands start to get a little more extensive and people are counting on me for my time and they’re wanting to get information out of me, and it is exhausting, and I am tired all of the time.

Just looking back on that time of younger me now and thinking ‘wow, she isn’t around as much as I thought she would be now that I have grown up a little’.

It is a strong reminder of my roots because my family actually plays on it. The biggest thing about this EP is that my dad, Blake, my Uncle Anthony, and my Uncle Brian, are all studio musicians on this whole album and it is very prevalent especially in “Next Step Girl” with my Uncle Anthony who played the mandolin and guitar, and my Uncle Brian played bass, and then all three of them did background vocals and are very prevalent in the background vocals in that song especially.

So, just being able to play with them and record with them and go to the studio with them is something I had always dreamed of.

Even before I was accepted into the program I said, ‘I want my family on the EP, no questions asked’. Just being able to do that and talk about my childhood, where I grew up, and my family, having them on that is very very special to me.

When will the rest of the album come out?
My EP will be coming out on April 25 or at least the last week of April hopefully.

How would you describe your genre, or do you write in different genres?
That is a hard question. I am in the middle of trying to figure that out honestly.

This EP is a mix of a lot of different genres. Of course, it has that country bluegrass aspect that I grew up with, but when I started kind of branching out into my own and listening to my own music, I got a real love for R&B and there are aspects of that integrated into it.

My professor, Denise Baptista, is a fantastic jazz musician.

I wrote a song for my grandma called “She” that some people have heard, but not a whole lot and that is definitely a jazz piece. It pulled me out of my comfort zone a lot, but it is a big tribute to her.

So, yes I’m able to integrate all those different genres, but I don’t think I can answer that question quite yet.

What would you tell others who are thinking of pursuing music as a career?
Well, I think the only way to go is up, as the good old Buster Moon from the movie Sing would say. That was always kind of my thought behind it.

There are a lot of people that will tell you that you can’t do it and it just might be too steep of a hill to climb, but if you are truly committed and if you truly love it, you will never work a day in your life as people like to say.

You just have to go all in and just be able to fully trust your work and trust your talent.

You might think you’ve put a lot of work into something and nothing comes out of it, but you never know what’s at the end of the tunnel.

In the studio recording Megan Kelly’s first EP. She is studying at college to become a singer/songwriter.<br />