Casey McQuillen, a young singer/songwriter, came to the public’s attention when she appeared on season 13 of American Idol and took the #49 slot on the show. Now she is doing something important for our youth. Three years ago, McQuillen put together a tour for our schools, where she makes sure each and every one of our kids know that they matter.
The ‘You Matter’ tour message is to start a discussion about a positive self image, work ethics, and how to show respect for others. McQuillen’s concerts are interactive, and her original music is used to engage students in conversation about bullying and self confidence.
Her songs speak of young love, heartbreak, and personal struggle that reflect what we all share, joy and pain. McQuillen says that her songs are the story of her life, bad haircuts, braces, and falling in and out of love with boys and herself.
Today’s social media with it’s airbrushed images and skeletal figures are impossible for most to obtain. Our children and teenagers compare themselves with these images which makes them insecure and sad. McQuillen wants to send the message that we have bumps along the road, which is ok, because we are not airbrushed.
Examiner spoke with McQuillen about her journey thus far.
Examiner: Did you make the decision to audition for American Idol on your own, or were you encouraged by someone?
McQuillen: A lot of students from Berklee participate in these competitions, especially the singers from the “Singer’s Showcase” talent show that Berklee has every year. After I participated in that show freshman year, I was excited and encouraged to take a shot at American Idol.
AN: Who were the judges when you were on the show? How did it feel when you first walked out on stage with camera’s rolling?
CM: The judges were Harry Connick Jr, J-Lo, and Kieth Urban. I honestly don’t remember singing in front of the judges. I was so nervous that I can’t remember a lot of what the judges said to me after the audition. It was funny when my audition aired on TV, because I was just as excited to hear what the judges had to say about me as my friends were, because it felt like I was hearing it all for the first time!
AN: Have you had discussion’s with some of the children that you meet on the, ‘You Matter’ tour, about the airbrushed images and celebrity fascination that is ultimately unobtainable for most? What do the kids say?
CM: During the ‘You Matter’ Tour, I talk about using the #highlightreel on social media posts. On Instagram, snapchat, or Facebook, we are constantly bombarded with images of the best parts of people’s lives, but not the worst or most boring. By using #highlightreel on my posts, and encouraging my fans to do the same, we’re sending a reminder to the world that our social media presences are just compilations of highlights. We want to remind everyone in our lives that social media presents unattainable levels of perfection, and that it is normal to not be as glamorous in real life.
AN: What do you have in the works now?
CM: I am happy to say that my band and I are working on a brand new album at the Record Company in Boston, MA. This album spans 10 years of songwriting, with songs I wrote at 13 and songs I wrote this summer. I absolutely cannot wait to share this album with the world and show my new and old fans how much I have grown in the past 5 years.
AN: What do you want people to know about you that hasn’t been written or said?
CM: I work hard every day because I am so grateful for the support that my family, friends and fans have shown me as my career grows. My greatest wish is to create music that is worthy of such love and encouragement.
Find McQullin here on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/caseyamcq