When I was 16, I got a phone call from an old friend asking if she could stay the night with my family and I in Nashville. Turns out, she was coming to audition for “The Voice.” I had never seen the show but was super excited for her and wished her good luck. 10 hours later, I was the one walking out with the golden ticket.
It’s interesting to me that reality TV shows seem to care as much, if not more, about the “story” of an artist rather than the actual talent. Don’t get me wrong; having a good voice is obviously important… but so is your story.
Ironically, my story started when my time on “The Voice” ended.
I grew up in a tiny town of 10,000 people in the heart of Kentucky, surrounded by tractors, horses, and country music. My childhood was filled with four-wheelers, all my family living practically on the same street, and Sunday afternoon church potlucks – it’s all I had ever known.
I started singing in church when I was 2 and never really stopped. In the summertime, my parents would take me to nearly every county fair around Kentucky where I would sing in the local talent shows. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Again – it’s all I had ever known.
By the time I was 10, I had been given my first guitar and was writing songs all the time. My mom is a singer and also writes, so she was a huge part in helping me understand how to even begin writing a song. I had always known I loved to sing, but realizing I could make a story come to life opened up a whole new world for me. I became literally obsessed with my guitar and would sit in my room for many hours teaching myself to play. I had no idea what I was doing but was determined to figure it out.
As time went on, my parents realized I was pretty serious about the whole music thing. Before I knew it, we had packed everything up and moved to Nashville, TN… Music City. Oh my, what a dream. I was enamored with the people surrounding me – I couldn’t process the fact that I now shared the same zip code as some of the most successful songwriters, producers, and musicians in the music industry. Once I realized they were doing what they loved as their career… I knew I had to do it too and nothing would stop me.
A few years into living in Nashville is when “The Voice” happened. So fast forward to me being on the show: I needed a story. I didn’t really have a sob story like some other people who went on the show. When they asked for the tragedies and nightmare situations I had been through, I couldn’t come up with anything. Oh, the irony… I had no idea what was ahead of me. My life had always been pretty stellar – my parents were supportive, I lived in an amazing city surrounded by incredibly talented and inspiring musicians, and was now also on the #1 reality TV show in the USA at the time. My world had been smooth sailing and seemed as though things were just getting better.
Days after my time on the show was over, everything changed. I was informed that my parents were getting a divorce. I had just fallen in love for the first time and got my heart completely crushed. I had just been kicked off a TV show and was filled with self-doubt and had lots of days where I didn’t feel good enough and felt like a failure. I dated a complete psychopath who was beyond emotionally abusive, and was dealing with the struggles that every 17-year-old teenager has – like, what the heck am I doing with my life?! It felt like everything was falling apart. I struggled with extreme depression and anxiety while trying so hard to convince myself (and the rest of the world) that everything was okay. And in the end, it was – but at the time, I was the furthest thing from “okay.”
I ran away to LA. I thought running from my problems would solve em. “Maybe if I just disappear and start a new life, all of this hurt and trauma will just go away,” so I thought. (Tip of advice: I thought wrong)
Music is why I’m here today. During those years when nothing made sense, music was the one thing that did. It was my escape… my therapy… the way I ended up hitting my problems head-on and addressing the parts of my heart that so desperately needed to be healed.
And what I began to notice was that people related to the honest stuff. When I got real and vulnerable with my emotions and put them into a song, that’s the music people remembered and wanted to hear.
So now, I’m thankful for the hurt. That probably sounds crazy, but the emotional battles I’ve endured have made me strong and allowed me to share so much of my story with people like you. That unexplainable connection that happens through music is what I live for – it’s so moving and heals like none other.
You never know what life will throw your way. My life has taken about 32,857,293 detours with countless roadblocks and reallyyyyy bumpy gravel roads, lost in the dark. But that’s life. And I can promise you there’s a purpose and always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Who knows where you are in your journey; you could be at your highest high or your lowest low. Wherever you are, I want to encourage you to hold onto hope and know that you are strong – way stronger than you think. Never forget that every little detail of your life (good or bad) is just another chapter of your beautiful story.
Watch the music video for Kensington Moore’s new single “Slow”
Feature photo by Braadyn Penrod.