Q & A with Aurora Keen

Muncy Valley native and country singer-songwriter Aurora Keen will perform from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 16 at K&S Music Center, 1116 W. Southern Ave.

Keen, only 17, already has put out her debut album, “Lessons in Love.” Here, she speaks about her beginnings as a young country artist, her personal sound and lyrics, and her hopes for the future.

SIMONE BROWN: My first question is, at an age some would consider young to start a career in music, what inspired you to start taking your music to the professional level?

AURORA KEEN: This career is a very long journey, so I wanted to get the best start I could. I performed for the first time when I was about 14 years old, and I fell in love with it. I focused on developing my songwriting, singing and guitar-playing skills so I could perform more. I’m the kind of driven person who narrows in on a goal and will chase it relentlessly. I felt I was ready for the next step, which was signing a recording contract, so I pursued all kinds of companies until I found Tate Music Group.

SB: At what age did you first learn to play guitar?

AK: I started taking lessons on how to play the guitar when I was about 12 years old from one of the teachers at my school. (Thanks Mr. Hokkanen!) The first song I learned how to play was a simple two-chord version of “Skip to my Lou.”

SB: Did you start out by playing country music, or did you switch genres at some point?

AK: I grew up listening to country music, so that’s always been my prominent genre. However, I also listen to and write a lot of contemporary Christian music. I’ve found that these two genres have a tightly rooted history and blend very well together. You’ll hear an example of this with the last track on my album called, “Shaken.”

SB: Have you always written your own songs and lyrics?

AK: I’ve been writing my own songs ever since I can remember. I’ve even found journals full of lyrics that I wrote when I was in elementary school!

SB: What inspires you to write the lyrics that you do, and what would you consider the theme of most of your songs?

AK: Usually I get inspiration from my own experiences and feelings or from observations of the people around me. I’m also optimistic about life and love and I try to make most of my song positive. Topics that you’ll find on this album range from love at first sight to keeping your head held high on your worst day ever.

SB: Who would you consider your biggest inspirations, musical-wise and in general?

AK: The biggest musical inspiration for me would definitely be Taylor Swift. She has incredible songwriting skills and she also started her career at a young age and has been very successful. She’s also a good role model, which I aspire to be as well.

SB: Would you say that growing up in a rural area influenced the style of music that you perform?

AK: Country music was an essential part of the rural area I grew up in. My family and friends all listened to country music and that early exposure has definitely influenced my style today.

SB: How did you get started with the Tate Music Group to complete your debut album?

AK: I was doing a show at the Lighthouse Cafe and I began talking to a woman who worked there. She mentioned another local singer that just released a CD and she explained how the recording company, Tate Music Group, offered a unique contract that I may be interested in. She gave me the name of the singer and the company and after researching and talking to both, I submitted a demo of my original songs to Tate Music Group. A few weeks later I received a phone call from Tate Music Group saying they were interested in recording my debut CD!

SB: What songs from your debut album, “Lessons in Love,” will you be playing at K&S? Will you be playing any covers? Old favorites?

AK: I’ll be playing most of the songs from my debut CD including “Love Won,” “Take it Away,” “Tell Me,” “Lesson in Love” and much more! I’m also going to do an acoustic performance of popular cover songs and maybe a few of my new originals as well.

SB: Do you have any plans for new music to be released next year?

AK: I’m constantly writing new material but as of right now I want to focus on promoting my debut album, “Lessons In Love.” If it has a lot of success, I will hopefully release another album within the next few years.

SB: How long have you been performing live shows, and what is the experience like for someone who attends a show of yours?

AK: I’ve only been performing live shows for three years now. I’ve performed many acoustic sets at various venues such as fairs, coffee shops, churches and banquets. I’ve even had the opportunity to play at some venues in Nashville, Tenn. I’m looking forward to singing with the performance tracks of the songs featured on my CD, instead of only having an acoustic guitar. If you come to a show, expect to have both a fun and relaxing time. It will be a very intimate atmosphere because I want to engage with the audience as much as possible before, during, and after a show.

SB: What kind of feelings does it give you when your are singing and performing on stage for groups of people?

AK: Before I go on stage I am nervous, anxious, and excited all at once. But when I start singing or strumming my guitar everything melts away and it’s so exhilarating. I’m usually a quiet and introverted person, and performing helps me break out of my shell. It’s so much fun to share your stories with a group of people in a way they can relate to. I love it when people come up to me after a show and tell me that one of my songs spoke to them.

SB: Do you think you would ever move out of your small town to a bigger area for your music career, or do you wish to stay here if you can?

AK: I’m going to go wherever my music takes me. I plan to go to Nashville, but I may end up in some other city. I wouldn’t mind traveling, and I’m excited to see where God takes me. But when I decide it’s time to settle down, I think I’ll return to a small town that’s more like home.

SB: What hopes do you have for your future career as a country singer? Do you wish to always continue doing this?

AK: After I graduate high school, I’m planning on going to college and majoring in music business. If my own music doesn’t work out, I hope to become a professional songwriter, or someday even open my own recording studio! There are so many business aspects to the music industry, I’m not quite sure where I’ll end up but it doesn’t matter as long as I’m doing what I love. I can’t imagine doing anything else, so right now I’m just going to follow God’s plan for me.