Erin Kinsey, a 17-year-old country musician from Rockwall, once looked at her childhood music lessons as a burden. Now, she has an opening slot for a Hunter Hayes concert April 28 at Ascend Theater in Tennessee and no other plans for her future besides pursuing a career in music.
Kinsey says until she was about 11, she was stuck playing piano, learning how to perform music by Beethoven. The only reason she began playing guitar was because she finally worked up the courage to tell her parents that she wanted to quit the piano, she says.
“A few months before Christmas, I was like, ‘Look, I’m quitting. I hate this,’” Kinsey says. “‘I don’t want to learn Beethoven. This is not my thing.’”
Kinsey's teachers told her parents that she had a musical gift, so they told her to choose another instrument. Shortly after, she opened up her gifts at Christmas to find a guitar. Kinsey says she has loved singing and playing guitar ever since.
No one else in Kinsey's family is musically inclined. Instead, they are all athletically gifted, she says.
“My mom’s on a tennis league, and my sister’s real big into tennis. She’s good at every sport she ever played, and my dad is like an amazing athlete,” Kinsey says.
The first song she ever learned was “Our Song” by Taylor Swift, and it was her choice. After spending so much time performing piano music she was not interested in, Kinsey made a point to tell her guitar teacher Taylor Dondlinger exactly the kind of stuff she cared to learn. She wanted to show her friends stuff they would think was cool instead of things like scales. She wanted to learn to play what she knew, Kinsey says.
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Before long, Kinsey took what she learned from Dondlinger and applied it to a local contest called Rockwall’s Got Talent. She performed her rendition of “Our Song,” which landed her a spot in the finals. She came in third place, boosting her confidence in her abilities as a musician. In the years after the contest, she says, hard work and relationships she built have paved the way to where she is today.
“I started going to Nashville at first just to meet my vocal teacher in person. I take [lessons] from this guy named Brett Manning up there,” Kinsey says. “I went up to Nashville and met him and an associate that he worked with. They just kept introducing me to people, and then those people would introduce me to people.”
Kinsey says she developed a family up in Nashville. Eventually, she began to work with Legacy PR, a public relations and consulting agency based in Tennessee. The agency connected Kinsey with Rod Essig, the head of Creative Artists Agency. Through CAA, she was booked as an opening act for Hayes at Nashville's Ascend Theater for the St. Jude Parade on April 28.
“It’s about getting in with people who care about you and want to help you in any way they can,” Kinsey says.