Fearless soundtrack: Kat Perkins career has followed the music through valleys and over mountains

Published 7:01 am Sunday, October 22, 2017

When Kat Perkins began singing her title track off of her 2014 album “Fearless,” for students at I.J. Holton Intermediate School Tuesday morning, she almost instantly had the attention of everybody in that gym.

Its message, sung with her unwavering and sultry voice was to simply live fearless — pursue your dreams. “Tonight, we’re fearless,” the chorus encourages.

That message is what has driven “The Voice”  alum, who in season 6 of the show, reached the semifinals. Throughout her life, starting with the brave decision to leave her hometown of 240 people in North Dakota to battling through a surgery that nearly cost her her career to ensuring that message reaches students throughout the United States has all been about being fearless.

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It’s the message she hoped to instill in those students Tuesday and it comes from those very challenges Perkins has faced.

“I think for every set back you have in your life, definitely prepares you for a comeback,” Perkins said after her talk. “If you use it correctly.”

Perkins herself uses music itself and her own career to push that message and it’s been the fulcrum she’s used to create the balance in her own life, starting from the very difficult move from North Dakota to Minneapolis where everything she was used to changed dramatically.

That fearlessness was replaced by the enormity of the challenge.

“I mean, there was so much of it that felt impossible or it felt like, ‘that’s just Hollywood,’” Perkins said. “There was so many excuses. It just became this thing that felt impossible for a long time time until I realized, every celebrity you possibly look up to is just a person and they grew up in whatever town they grew up in and just worked really hard to get where they got to.”

Through her music opportunities, Kat Perkins is able to reach students with a positive message of achieving one’s dreams. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

That’s where Perkins was at the age of 16. In her words: “It was terrifying.”

But that terrifying moment felt big to Perkins — monumentally big in fact. It became the change that would ultimately shape her life to what she does now.

“It was big,” Perkins said. “It just felt like the biggest thing that I was ever going to do at that moment. Then when I was 18 and moving out here, it felt like that was the biggest thing I was ever going to do and now, looking back, it’s a very miniscule thing as part of the journey.”

That journey would have its valleys, however. The deepest valley came with the discovery of a cyst on her left vocal chord. It threatened everything Perkins had been striving for.

It felt like a journey’s end.

“When I had surgery and I talked about it with the kids today and when I had found a cyst on my left vocal chord, I had to have surgery, it kind of felt like this is it, like maybe I couldn’t go on,” She related. “I didn’t know if I was going to heal.”

The healing started with a complete about face in her life — becoming a nanny.

She talked about that rather surprising twist in frank terms that sounded contradictory to her pursuit of music.

“It was the best thing that every happened to me,” she explained.

As she puts, it was something different. It was something outside of her comfort zone.

Ultimately, the path would lead out of the valley and back into music where “The Voice”  opportunity came into play. It was a chance for Perkins to demonstrate those values she was trying to follow herself as well as getting her back into music.

“Once I had that opportunity in front of me, which again, I didn’t know they recruited for that show,” Perkins said. “I was one of those lucky ones that got recruited. I skipped a bunch of levels. I didn’t have to go stand in line.”

“Talking about it with those kids, that we had watched “The Voice”  for years together and they were like, ‘you have to do this,’ she continued. “And just sort of looking at them in this moment thinking, ‘I have to follow my dreams. I have to show them I can do this.’”

She showed those kids and America as well that backed her rise all the way through to the semifinals, saved from elimination not one, but twice by audience votes.

It acted as a bridge to what she does now, speaking to students to help encourage them to follow their dreams.

“Absolutely, it’s a bridge and even in the moment it was hard to see,” Perkins explained. “Even after that moment I didn’t know what was going to happen after “The Voice” . Maybe I would go back to being a nanny and then there was all those questions, but it became pretty apparent that I needed to go back to what I knew, what I loved, what I was good at, what i was born to do on this Earth.”

That attitude helped carry her through a fickle music industry that at the best of times often enough feels more cynical than rewarding.

Kat Perkins and her message of being fearless. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Perkins’ drive and confidence pushed her through however, to find success on both the music and motivational speaking stage.

“You have to make choices and hope they feel good and do good for you,” she said.

A little coincidence doesn’t hurt either.

Music was shifting just about the time of her appearance on “The Voice” . Independent artists were no longer bucking the trend … they were the trend.

“Luckily, in my case, the music industry changed right after my surgery and not being in it in anymore,” she said. “Being an independent artist became cool again and became easier again and it became something that was feasible.”

All of it works nicely into her overarching message of “dream It and do It,” something she stressed throughout Tuesday’s engagements. It’s an easy message for her to deliver because Perkins lived it and is living it.

In particular it’s the push of building on easy little success when trying to achieve those dreams.

“Those little things all add up to the big things,” she said.

And that is where music becomes such a strong influence and something else Perkins champions. It can become a strong and important part of most everybody’s life because it is always there.

“Here’s the deal,” she said. “I love sports and I love especially football and those things are great, but there is sometimes a limit on those things. Music has no time limit. You will have that gift, the way it makes you feel, for the rest of your life.”

All of that wraps back conveniently to her message of just jumping. Taking those chances and risks for an even greater reward. It’s a message nicely wrapped up in the final words of “Fearless.”

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”