Performing in front of a large crowd is enough to make even the most confident adult sweat a little. That’s why I am so impressed to see a young person perform in front of a big audience… and if you are lucky enough to be stationed at Fort Sill, you get an opportunity to see an amazing young woman, talented singer/songwriter, AND military kid open for Big and Rich on April 25th!
Ciera MacKenzie is your typical military kid. Both of her parents have served this nation; her mom, Tonya, has served in the Army for almost 23 years and is the Executive for the Commandant for the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, and her dad, Danny, is a disabled Army veteran who served seven years with the 82nd Airborne and the 4th Ranger Training Battalion. Ciera has lived her entire life as an Army brat.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Ciera and her parents, after watching a YouTube video of her original song titled “Volunteer Soldier”. When you listen to the lyrics, “A hero, don’t you want to be a hero, even when you see all the others die”, it is hard to believe that the words were written by a child. But after speaking with her for only a few moments, you realize that Ciera is a remarkable young lady, wise beyond her years. Like so many military kids, she has life experiences that are simply foreign to many civilian kids her age. Does she think that military life has made her different than other kids? “I sort of feel different. The fact that it is so normal to me is what makes it different”, she told me.
I could hear the pride in both of her parent’s voices as they spoke of their daughter: “I am always impressed with Ciera’s ability to step up to responsibility, and for her kind heart… she is always sensitive to the needs of other people.” Asked if she thought that her military service has helped to shape Ciera’s character she responded, “Most definitely my military service has had a part of that. We are not only serving our country, we are always helping people… our kids see that and follow suit.”
At the tender age of eight, Ciera started writing music; she sings and plays acoustic, electric and bass guitar. “Music just gives me so many opportunities, and peace of mind. It allows me to express myself, it helps me to relax, and share my feelings.” Her first CD (available on iTunes) has music about everything from sleepover pranks, to puppy love… and, of course, the song that got the attention of Big and Rich, “Volunteer Soldier”. All 10 songs on the album, titled “Thoughts from a Hay Bale”, are written by this talented pre-teen. Danny told me that his daughter is a farm girl at heart; she laid atop of that hay bale, out by the baby goats that she adores, and wrote all of that music. “She’s always been gifted musically, she is creative”, he says of his daughter. “I am not musically talented whatsoever! She is also very kind, she is good to all of her siblings and friends and she is very loyal. Her first Facebook “like” was from a guy that I served in the Army with. He owns a company and he sent her a tee-shirt… which she now wears to every show.”
She will be wearing that tee-shirt when she opens for Big and Rich later this month. Excited to tell me the details, she explained how it all came about: “My Dad was giving CD’s out and a lady from MWR contacted me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to open up for Big and Rich! I was jumping up and down, like ‘Oh My Gosh!'” She will be singing her original song and the National Anthem for that concert, and will be performing eight of her original songs the next day at Rucker Park at 4 pm.
We hope, if you are in the area, you will go and enjoy both of these concerts and support this talented, kind-hearted military kid. Her parents said she will be available after the show for autographs and pictures. They will also be selling tee-shirts and CD’s. The free concert on April 25th is a Polo Field. Gates open at 6:00 and the concert begins at 8:00.
To follow Ciera’s musical journey, please like her facebook page. You can also download her CD on iTunes.