“Our house is filled with music. Someone is always playing [an instrument] or singing,” said Crystal Thomas, mom of eight kids from seven months to 14 years old.
The oldest four kids, who all sing and play a variety of instruments, even started their own band, called Fearingstar.
|Shalyah Fearing performs in the Rock|
School Blowout concert in April
“One day my brother was playing a song on the clarinet,” said Shalyah Fearing, 14, second oldest of the bunch. “I started playing on the piano, and then my sister started singing, and we thought, ‘We’re really pretty good!’”
They began playing at a cafe, and then at community events and recitals.
But in this family full of musicians and singers, Shalyah stood out.
Last December, when Fearingstar performed at a community celebration in New Port Richey, someone in the crowd noticed Shalyah and recommended the Patel Conservatory.
“I went on the [Patel Conservatory] website and I was intrigued with all the different classes and things they offer,” said Crystal.
Shalyah joined the Conservatory’s Rock School program in January, and immediately instructor Dean Tidey took notice.
“Her voice sounds much older than she is,” said Tidey. “When you close your eyes, she sounds like a classic soul singer.”
Tidey, a member of a Japanese band called the Muddy Apes, invited Shalyah to perform back up vocals on the group’s new album which was being recorded locally in April.
“I wanted to use one of the kids from Rock School to give them the experience of being in the studio,” he said. “Shalyah was ready for it.”
"I've never actually sang in a studio before," said Shalyah. "I got to meet the band and everything, so it was really cool. It was a good experience."
|Shalyah with Dean Tidey (center) and his band the Muddy Apes|
at a recording studio in Ybor City in Tampa.
Following the Rock School Blowout concert in April, she was also asked to perform at the Conservatory’s Spotlight Awards in May.
“I’ve performed in front of a lot of people before, but that was the biggest crowd I’ve ever been in front of...I can’t even explain how I felt. I was really excited that I got to perform at the Straz Center,” she said.
This summer, in addition to participating in Rock School again, Shalyah is trying something new. She’s joined the cast of the Conservatory’s summer theater production of The Little Mermaid, Jr.
“I was aiming for the part of Ursula and I got it! To me, she has some of the coolest songs in the play,” said Shalyah.
“I’m looking forward to making friends and learning more about the theater.”
When she’s not performing, Shalyah enjoys reading, and playing and writing music along with her siblings. Her ultimate goal is to be a professional singer.
“It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was four,” said Shalyah.
In the meantime, she’s enjoying every opportunity she gets to learn and grow, and to perform.