It was a beautiful summer Sunday, circa 2005, when I was strolling down the street of the annual Sayville summer street fair, or festival, or whatever they called it. There were the usual craft stands, sausage and pepper heroes (burp), Zeppoles and old guys showing off old cars. A folk singer outside the Starbucks, a little rock combo at one end of the block and some old banjo and fiddle players in a trailer/stage at the other end. You get the picture.
Somewhere in the middle I heard this booming female voice singing a Connie Francis song. I moved closer and expected to find a radio playing, but instead discovered a little girl in a poodle skirt belting out 50’s songs. A banner behind her said Kayla Starr, in pink. I was mesmorized. Not only was it unusual to hear this genre of music, but hearing it out of this little person knocked me for a loop.
Around this time, I was thinking about putting together an old-fashioned variety show, a la Ed Sullivan, featuring local talent of all genres. Kayla was at the top of my list should this ever occur.
To cut to the chase, it did happen. I produced 14 Variety Shows at various venues across Long Island. Kayla was featured on four of them, always the star of the show. As a music geek, I know something is special when I hear it. When Kayla hit the stage, I knew it. I am proud to say I gave Kayla her first headline spot on my show at The Bellmore Theater. She owned it.
My thanks go out to her parents, Russ and Trish, for always making it happen. Great people.
Kayla is still singing and performing today, under her real name; Kayla Stockert. In fact, Kayla just mailed me a copy of her first EP, along with a signed poster that said “I will never forget who gave me my first headline spot” (everybody go awwwwww).
I listened to the EP (3 songs) like I didn’t know her, as the cynical music critic I am. It’s better than anything I hear on pop radio today. One song in particular, “Don’t Go Messing With My Heart’, written by Kayla is a killer song. It’s reminiscent of Amy Winehouse and has that tinge of 50’s sound that I heard from that little 9-year-old in Sayville.
I am here to spread the word not only because it’s so hard to make it in the music business, but for selfish reasons. I want to be able to say someday “As seen on the Stevie GB Variety Show”.
Kayla Stockert is going to make that a reality.
Go to her website. buy her EP. Follow Kayla. She is a Starr.