Freshman and singer-song-writer Kaitlyn Barbee sings her heart out

By Katie Williams

Freshman Kaitlyn Barbee has a broad set of dreams — Broadway or broadcast, to be exact. The singer-songwriter has two songs available on iTunes and is  recording her first album.

“I’ve been singing since I could talk. It’s always just been comfortable for me,” Barbee said.

She is pursuing a major in communication and a minor in vocal performance. Barbee, a Hartland native, plans on auditioning to double-major in musical theatre performance in December.

Barbee wrote and recorded her first song “Lullaby” in 2011 and recently completed work on her second song, “Sweet Addiction.” Both songs were recorded at Real II Reel Productions, Inc. in Fenton.

Jaunty Meek, vice president of Real II Reel, immediately related to Barbee’s attitude and talent.

“When I met Kaitlyn, I knew she was dead serious about her music. That’s one thing I love about her — she’s got a great passion for music,” Meek said. “After I heard ‘Sweet Addiction,’ I knew it was going to be a hit. It’s a great tune, to me it’s a refreshing sound. She’s a talented singer-songwriter and people can relate to her lyrics.”

According to Meeks, Real II Reel is collaborating with producer Randy Lynch to help Barbee with her next song. Lynch has worked with artists including Eminem, Kanye West, Toni Braxton and Celine Dion.

“She’s working with people that can really help her succeed and can give her guidance,” Meek said. “She’s special to us, and working with Randy is a great step in the right direction. Kaitlyn’s open-minded when it comes to suggestions about making a song better. In music that’s so important.”

Barbee said the success of “Sweet Addiction” encouraged her to look into recording. After performing the song at her high school talent show and winning first place in 2011, fans asked her to make it available on iTunes. Barbee also won First Place and People’s Choice awards after performing the song in the Livingston Sensation singing competition in August.

Her talent show win also landed Barbee a performance at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where she sang the national anthem at the state wrestling finals.

“It was a powerful thing to win — especially because everybody voted for my song. That song got me into recording, and it will always be a big deal to me,” Barbee said.

She has been writing music since she was 10-years-old, and cites that songwriting serves as an emotional outlet.

“There will be times when I finish a song in 15 minutes because I’m in the moment,” Barbee said. “I can’t always just go upstairs and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to write a song,’ you’ve got to be into it. You can’t just write to write, there’s got to be feeling behind it.”

In addition to singing, Barbee also has acting aspirations. Most recently, she auditioned for “Legally Blonde” at Meadow Brook Theatre and received a callback. She has also portrayed Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” and Eponine in “Les Miserables” in high school productions.

“Acting is always changing — it has a lot to do with the people you’re working with. You have to adapt with the other actors,” she said.  “When I get off stage, I barely remember it because I was in character. It’s weird, but you have to forget yourself.”

Barbee hopes to one day perform in New York City and said  her dream role would be Alphaba in “Wicked.”

“Singing is a lot easier for me than acting,” she said. “I love Broadway-it’s my favorite stuff to sing. I love belting and I feel so accomplished when I hit those high notes.”

Meek is certain that there will be more of those high notes in Barbee’s career.

“We’re really excited about what the future holds for Kaitlyn. There’s a lot of positive things that are happening for her, and she’s got a lot of support.”

Contact Senior Reporter Katie Williams via email at [email protected]