14-year-old singer/ songwriter hopes to make it big - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

14-year-old singer/ songwriter hopes to make it big

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Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:35 pm | Updated: 9:41 pm, Mon Oct 14, 2013.

Fourteen may seem like a young age to start a career, but when it's been dreamt about since the age of 3 people seem to understand.

"Riley has been this way since she could walk or talk," said Suzanne Kocsis of Ahwatukee Foothills. "She is our little ball of fire. When she puts her mind to it she's going to get it done."

Riley Kocsis is only 14 but her first single has been out on iTunes since November and on Tuesday she released her first CD of songs she co-wrote with her music producer. She's been singing since she was 3 and dancing and performing came a little later.

"I started off with theater at Ahwatukee Children's Theatre so I did a lot of show choirs and musicals," Riley said. "I taught some classes and I was involved with dance at the Kimberly Lewis School of Dance. I've performed at carnivals and competitions. My dream originally was to be on Broadway. I started writing songs when I was about 7 and so then my dream kind of changed."

Riley remembers begging her parents to let her take guitar lessons when she was 13 and six weeks after she began lessons she was putting music to her lyrics.

"I came to my mom and showed her my first song and she just looked at me and said, ‘It's time, you're ready. We're doing this,'" she said.

Riley performed her original song at the Desert Vista talent show and she has been writing non-stop ever since.

Eventually she was discovered by producer Matt Grabe, who helped rewrite and record her original song and then introduced her to her current producer, Curtis Douglas, and her manager, Gerald Tennison.

Riley can't believe all she's done since then.

"It was so much fun," she said. "I walked into the studio and I got to play my songs for him and then once you walk into the booth it's kind of like you just let go. You're just in the moment."

Riley had to learn to juggle school and recording. She said she's been lucky to have a lot of supportive teachers who would agree to give her work ahead of time for the days she was going to miss. The hardest part for her was giving her voice a rest. She'd spend a weekend recording and then have a week of no speaking or even whispering.

Riley says her producer was very picky and often pushed her outside of what she thought was possible. She may have sung certain songs more than 50 times while recording but she's happy with the end product.

"It's kind of pop with a twist," Riley said. "It's definitely something you can dance to with lyrics that teenagers like myself can relate to because I write them from experiences and emotions I've gone through and I know other people are going through at the same time."

Riley keeps her music clean. She says her 10-year-old sister listens to it and she wants to continue to be an example for all ages.

"I love that they can relate to it as well as teenagers and my peers," Riley said. "I like to have a broader audience. I don't want to be so adult that I get to a point where kids can't look up to me as a role model."

When asked if she believes she's growing up too fast, Riley says she's just doing what she loves.

"I think this has made me become a little more mature and professional but I'm still a kid," she said. "I still go out with my friends on the weekends and everything like that. It's the best of both worlds."

Riley hopes the new CD will help her career spread a little more. She says she loves recording but getting signed and being able to perform for a live audience is her ultimate dream.

"I really want to be doing concerts," Riley said. "I started out performing, that's what I do and that's what I love. I love recording too, but I'm also a dancer and it all just plays into the fact that I love to entertain."

As for Riley's parents, they say they're proud of their daughter and willing to take it as far as she wants to go.

"We're behind her no matter what," Suzanne said. "If it does end up that this takes our whole family on a different path then we will all take that path with her. We have four kids and they're all busy but we are willing to help her just like we would with any of our kids."

Riley can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/RileyRaeMusic and YouTube, youtube.com/RileyRaeMusic.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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