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Talent for Two

Story By: Jessica Tolentino, Staff Writer

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TAYLOR CONKLIN

From releasing singles, working with a producer, and keeping up with the demands of schoolwork, there is never a dull moment for senior  Taylor Conklin. At the age of four, Conklin discovered her passion at a James Taylor concert, and she’s been expressing herself through music ever since.  

“Singing makes me feel confident,” Conklin said. “When I was younger, I had a hard time fitting in and singing would help me get through that. Then, with the different experiences I go through, I write about all that, so I get to express myself through that and not be the shy girl I was.”

On stage, she goes by her first and middle name – Taylor Thi. Conklin is a small girl with big aspirations for the future. She persistently writes new songs in hopes of releasing an album someday. Although Conklin has been in touch with a few record companies, she remains an independent singer who works hard and pays everything off herself.

“I freelance with a producer out in California and luckily, he works with a lot of my favorite singers,” Conklin said. “When I reached out to him it was on a spur of the moment, I never thought he would email me back.”

When she was 16, Conklin came close to a semifinal in “Make Me Famous,” an online music competition. However, the most eye-opening moment in her singing career was an invitation to an audition for The Voice late last year, a show she never thought to consider after her previous audition for America’s Got Talent.

“Going into that callback audition, I didn’t make it through the round, but just to get up there was so incredible to me,” Conklin said.  “To skip through all those people and not make it, I wanted to cry but I knew to stay professional. I walked out of that room with a huge smile on my face and I said: ‘you know what, that’s not going to stop me.’”

After she graduates, Conklin plans to fully focus on her career.

“I’ve had record labels reach out to me, but nothing is set in stone yet,” Conklin said. “I’ll be going out to Los Angeles to finish up these singles I have already recorded and working to make more money to get it out there for all the supporters that mean the world to me.”

KARL KIM

Following the brisk beats of hip-hop music since the third grade, Karl Kim began dancing in Korea while influenced by K-POP dance moves. Today, he dances alongside a director in Houston who created one of the first choreography pieces he learned when he lived in Korea.

“While I was taking classes, I felt inferior because I would fall back,” Kim said. “Some styles I took on fast, but others took a whole lot of time. Each class was an hour but if it was a style I was uncomfortable with, I felt that I still had not fully learned it in an hour.”

Kim’s admiration for hip-hop came naturally as he worked to improve his skills. His passion for dance came from a strive towards recognition; however, throughout the years his passion stemmed into a deeper meaning.

“I like to think dance is like a language, and more than a language itself,” Kim said. “It’s a medium to show your creativity; for me, it’s a medium to show my identity.”

Kim is a member of the SoReal Dance studio company in Houston.  The team participated in several World of Dance competitions in Houston and Dallas. In  2016, Kim played a role in the youth team, Sandlot, along with the adult team, SoReal. That year, both teams placed first in each division.

“We usually start practicing two months before the competition,” Kim said. “The most struggling part is matching each other’s moves, because when you dance normally, it’s your style of dance, but as a team you have to dance as one person. That’s the most tedious thing we have to go through.”  

Kim has further expressed himself by creating his own work. During his free time, he produces his own choreography while in the studio. His favorite routine he has created so far was a fast-paced collaboration with an experienced dancer.  However, what sets Kim’s work apart from other choreography pieces is his motto the  follows when it comes to creating choreography: to never repeat himself.

“You really have to plan it out. I like to describe it similar to a project that we do in school,” Kim said. “ You have to take time to plan it out and try out some stuff. If it doesn’t work, you have to try it again and sometimes you have to trash the whole choreography to  make it again.”

After he graduates, Kim plans to attend a university and keep dancing for leisure.

“Wherever I go I’ll probably join a dance team and keep making and teaching choreography,” Kim said.

 

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