Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mormon teen's testimony shines in her music

By Hillary Bowler, Deseret News

Published: Wed, Dec. 18 4:43 p.m. MST

 Kira Stone, 17, from San Francisco, Calif., watched her first-ever single, \

Kira Stone, 17, from San Francisco, Calif., watched her first-ever single, "Peter Pan," make it to the top 50 on iTunes charts.

(Wendy VonSosen, Wendy VonSosen Photography)

Kira Stone hopes that her music will help make the listener's day better.

Stone, 17, hails from San Francisco, and has made a break in the music industry through iTunes. Her first single, “Peter Pan,” was featured in iTunes’ “New and Noteworthy” section and made it to the top 50 on the charts in January of last year.

“Peter Pan” was her first real venture into the world of songwriting. She didn’t even know her song was such a hit until a friend texted her about it.

“Which is weird,” she said, laughing. “I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be.”

Today, she is a busy senior, applying to multiple universities — including Brigham Young University — and still recording on the side. She released another single, “Find Me Now,” in September and just released "California Sound" on Dec. 6.

Stone got her start with a local performing group when she was 8 years old. She’s also been involved with her high school choirs. She sings and plays the piano, ukulele and guitar. She’d always performed in LDS Church meetings or for family home evening, but had never really written her own songs and performed them for strangers.

A real turning point came for her the summer before her sophomore year, explained her father, Jared Stone. She had gone on tour with the performing group she’s involved with and realized how much she enjoyed sharing music with people.

“I remember she specifically talked about seeing the faces and looking into the eyes of the people she was performing for, and seeing their joy and their happiness — how happy that made her,” he said.

The way Kira Stone tells the story, she’s always loved music, she decided to give songwriting a try, and her parents have been so supportive that things just happen.

Her father gives credit where credit is due.

“Honestly, I can’t take any credit for her music. She’s very self-motivated and very creative,” he said. “I’m just amazed.”

Kira Stone has recorded her songs professionally at June Audio in Provo, and she has paid all of the expenses herself.

Jared Stone had connections to the studio through an old college friend. Artists including Neon Trees have recorded there, and Kira Stone called it the “funnest place ever.” She’s grateful to owner and engineer Scott Wiley for all of his help in getting the ideas in her head to turn into a song.

Kira is the oldest of six children — four girls and two boys — with the youngest in kindergarten this year. She loves singing, acting, cooking and travelling and is a huge fan of Broadway. But aside from those things, hanging out with her family is her favorite.

“From the beginning, I’ve really tried as hard as I can to make family and the gospel a priority over everything I do, which has really helped me keep things in perspective,” she said.

“One of many things I appreciate about Kira is she looks for opportunities to be in our home and with our family,” her father said. “As a parent, it’s such a help to have an older child who cares that much and loves her younger siblings as Kira does.”

Kira Stone did some recording in August and has two more singles from that round to release. She plans to release single by single and has plans to do more recording in the winter and spring. She’s hoping to release an album at the beginning of next summer.

So far, she’s just worked independently, though she has had label offers. Much of her time has been taken up in applying and auditioning for college musical theater programs. She says she’d love to merge her love of musical theater and newfound love of songwriting someday, and perhaps even write musicals.

Kira Stone is determined to keep her standards as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as she enters the world of music.

”I feel like I’ve made choices already to steer clear of some things … and because I’ve been faithful to them, it’s easy to stay that way,” she said.

“It’s easy to want to sell out and say, ‘Oh, it’s not that big of a deal if I wear this,' or 'Oh, it’s not a big deal if I say this word in a show.’ But when it comes down to it ... it’s about your faithfulness to the gospel. I think that is the most important thing ever.”

“Kira doesn’t hide the fact that she’s a Mormon,” Jared Stone said. “She’s very much happy to talk about her faith.” He said that he’s excited to see what opportunities she might have to share The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as she goes so many places and meets so many different people.

"The music industry, I think, does get a bad rap for a lot of the headlines that come out," he said. "But I think it’s easy to miss a lot of the good and creativity and a lot of the God-given talents and gifts that people are magnifying and pursuing and building upon. It’s really an inspiring thing to watch. I try to focus more on that.”

Jared Stone acknowledged that any parent would worry about a child who’s pushing toward a bit of fame, but at this point he's not overly concerned.

“She has a great head on her shoulders and great heart, so I just don’t worry about that,” he said.

Her songs' lyrics are squeaky-clean and rather whimsical. She said that “Peter Pan” was born out of her love of the tale and a desire to capture childhood innocence. “Find Me Now” is a light-hearted song about celebrity crushes.

She cited Jason Reeves, Colbie Caillat and Taylor Swift as inspirations, and when she tried to describe her style, she called it “a mix of happy sounds.”

She burst out laughing. “That sounds so dorky!”

Laughs aside, she takes the power of music very seriously.

“I really want to try to make other people just feel more bright and feel happier and recognize the light of Christ that they have in some small way.”

She believes everyone has a divine purpose, and she’s found hers.

"I’ve prayed a lot about this to see if this is actually what I should do, or if I should go to college for another reason or figure out a different life path,” she said. “I’ve really just gotten confirmation after confirmation that this is something that is going to help me feel the Spirit the most, and help others I come in contact with feel the Spirit the most.”

Stone says she honestly wants to pursue whatever would best bless the lives of whomever she comes in contact with.

Jared Stone believes his daughter is ready for this next chapter in her life. Her vibrant, bubbly personality includes a huge helping of bright-eyed faith for her future.

“Kira really knows that she wants to make music a really essential part of her life,” he said.

For more information about Kira Stone, visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kirastonemusic. Songs are available on iTunes for download.

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1. thebigsamoan
Richmond, VA,
Dec. 18, 2013

Sounds like a very talented young lady with a great sense of maturity for someone so young! Hope she gains much success as she moves forward in pursuing her dreams!

2. Phclyde
yorba linda,, CA,
Dec. 18, 2013

I love you Kira!

3. antodav
TAMPA, FL,
Dec. 19, 2013

Hopefully she stays true to her promises and does not become another Miley Cyrus. The entertainment industry is inherently hostile towards moral values of any kind.