The voice is unforgettable—light and dreamy, breathy and inviting, taking listeners on a well-trod journey of life, love, and loss. Thus, the juxtaposition when the spotlight shines upon fresh-faced Kylie Odetta. The 20-year-old Greenville native has graduated from playing Smiley’s Acoustic Café to touring with her own show, and opening for artists like Gavin DeGraw and Colbie Caillat. Not too bad for the girl whose first piano teacher dozed off during lessons. The indie artist took a break from the holiday hustle and bustle to share a cup of coffee near her family’s home in Five Forks.
Thanks for meeting us. How are your holidays going? >> Busy. We’re getting ready for my Annual Secret Christmas Benefit Concert. It’s going to be really fun with a silver and gold theme, and it benefits the Barbara Stone Foundation. The location of the show is a secret until you RSVP.
You’ve done the concert several years now? >> I feel music is a connector and a healer, and I want to use it to help. I have a heart for giving back, specifically those with special needs, the homeless, and youth. My family instilled that in me.
“I feel music is a connector and a healer, and I want to use it to help.”
Tell us more about your family. Is everyone musical? >> My dad is a songwriter, as well. When we were younger, he would write songs and play his guitar and sing them to me and my brother before we fell asleep. My mom was in choir in high school. It was a very musical house.
What did you listen to? >> Mom and Dad played a lot of Kenny Chesney and Sister Hazel. Top-40 radio. A lot of country music, which honestly I did dabble in when I first started. But I realized that wasn’t my personal style.
How would you describe your style? >> I would describe it as jazzy, R&B, but still pop-modern. But I kind of see music in colors. I see it as kind of warm pink, orange, yellow colors. Kind of like a sunset. Very warm and filled with love. Which sounds cheesy, but I’m a very cheesy person.
Critics call you an old soul, praising the depth of your lyrics for someone so young. >> I can sympathize with people through my situations, but also about things I’ve never been through. I’ve been writing since I was eight. I realize very much it is a gift. I feel called to write about real life and through real interactions with people.
What’s your process when you write? >> When I first started writing, a lot of songs would come to me in the shower, but now I write on piano primarily. The music, melody, and lyrics all come at once, or I’ll have a thought throughout the week, like one line comes to me, and I’ll think that’s kind of cool and write it down in my notes, and I’ll go back to it later to build on it.
You’ve penned more than 200 songs. Where are you now creatively? >> I always want to push myself. This past year was a tough one for me anxiety-wise. But I’m now in a new place where I want to push myself creatively, rather than just do what comes easily.
You bounce back and forth from Nashville. Are you considering moving there? >> I have a great connection industry-wise there. My plan was to move there when I was 21. But the last time I went, I got an overwhelming feeling of no. God saying, ‘That’s not where you need to be.’ So, I’m reevaluating and making a new plan. I travel so much, but I do want to be somewhere where there’s more musical opportunity, so it’s kind of up in the air right now.
How’s the new album, Undertow? >> We just released a video for the title track. We brought a real piano to Folly Beach. Three guys had to stand behind it in the water while we filmed. When the shoot was over, we put it close to the boardwalk to get in the morning. When my dad woke up, Folly police were dragging it away with a 4-wheeler, probably thinking it was random stuff people leave behind. A piano on the beach!
For more on Kylie’s latest album and upcoming shows, visit kylieodetta.com.