Talk about a fast learner. Quinn Coffey, an eighth grader at Jessie Clark Middle, received her first guitar on her birthday two years ago. Since then, the 14-year-old has been the pre-show act for Melissa Etheridge, performed on TV, appeared on “Woodsong’s Old-Time Radio Hour” and will cut her first CD of original music this summer.
Quinn, who takes lessons from J.D. Wright through David M. McLean’s Skinny Devil Music Lab, rarely puts her guitar down.
She practices constantly and, on weekends, she films videos of her performances that she posts on YouTube.
Realizing that she had inherited her parents’ music genes – Christy attended EKU on a piano scholarship and Frank was a wedding singer and performed in a gospel quartet – Frank built a 4-foot by 8-foot stage in the basement.
The stage includes a microphone, music stand and guitar chair – all framed by twinkling lights.
In no time, Quinn moved from her basement stage to Saturday morning open mike sessions at Natasha’s and then for Sunday night sessions at SEC Sports Pub.
Last summer, she sang with a band at an adult birthday party in Richmond and played solo at a Christmas party at a horse farm in Lexington.
This year, spring break became her big break. On the Monday of spring break, she appeared on TV playing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” as a tribute to the late folk singer, Pete Seeger.
That night, she was the pre-show act at Woodsong’s, playing Seeger songs and country tunes for 40 minutes in the lobby of the Lyric Theatre.
Quinn went onstage with three other girls and sang “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” with host Michael Johnathon.
Johnathon recommended Quinn as the pre-show act for the Etheridge concert at EKU’s Center for the Arts.
“Everything has gotten really exciting,” Quinn said.
Quinn knew the first time she appeared on stage that she had found her calling.
Before a crowd of 50 at Natasha’s, she bounded off the stage and told her parents, “I loved it. People listened to me and they clapped. They enjoyed it and that’s what I wanted to happen.”
Her parents, both educators, marvel at Quinn’s initiative.
“She is self-motivated and has immersed herself in the music,” Christy said. “We never have to ask her to practice her guitar. She’s always playing.”
Added Frank: “She’s fearless. It takes guts to get in front of adult strangers and perform, but there’s something in her that allows her to do that.”
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