Arts & Entertainment - March 2, 2011

Katie's Corner: A lifetime of love for music

At 16, Kate Armstrong already has 14 years of singing under her belt

by Katie Blankenberg

Persistence and determination can be the keys to success. They have been for Kate Armstrong, 16, of Menlo Park. Her steely determination to become a singer has paid off.

Kate began singing while she was learning her first words. By the age of 2, she was putting on musical shows for her family, convincing them that she had a special talent and love of music.

At age 7, she began performing in musicals and plays, including the "The Tempest," her first show. Kate also managed to intertwine music with her spirituality. Since the age of 8, Kate has sung for the choir at her church, Valley Presbyterian in Portola Valley.

When she was 12 years old, she decided to take her voice to a new level and started lessons with a local vocal coach, Edie Delegan.

Now in high school at Sacred Heart Preparatory, Kate has continued her musical career, performing in musicals, the Girls A cappella Group on the SHP campus, and schools Masses.

As a sophomore, she was accepted into Sacred Heart's Advanced Chorus. The staff at Sacred Heart Preparatory has been very supportive of Kate, in particular William Skaff, the head of the Advanced Chorus and Girls A cappella Group.

"Will Skaff has been teaching me since I was in the fourth grade at St. Joseph's School in Atherton," says Kate. "He has always been very influential and someone for me to look up to."

Singing is not her only forte. At the age of 7, Kate learned how to play the guitar from a childhood friend. Since then, Kate has taught herself more advanced songs and has even gone on to write her own songs, which she performs.

In fact, she has written and performed five of her original songs that she hopes to record professionally and publish on iTunes this year.

This past year, Kate has entered signing competitions in the Bay Area and has performed at local concerts. She sings a variety of genres, but mostly country and pop. She puts her own twist on the songs, making them her own.

In 2008, Kate entered her first competition, called the NATS (for National Association of Teachers of Singing). Held in San Francisco, the NATS really peaked Kate's interest in competing with her voice. Earlier this year, she participated in the "Burlingame Idol" competition and came in second.

She also has sung and played the guitar to her favorite songs at the Los Altos Wine Festival and the Burlingame Art in the Park Festival.

Kate is at home on stage in front of large audiences. "Kate has always had a deep passion for performing," says Dave Armstrong, Kate's biggest fan. "She lights up when she is on stage."

Kate Armstrong has a YouTube channel, named katherinea13, which shows Kate singing at festivals and competitions.

Katie Blankenberg lives in Portola Valley and attends Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton.


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