For years, Kendall Beard's family and friends encouraged her to audition for American Idol with no avail.
"I'd seen so many incredible singers who had auditioned for that show and never even got a second look," Beard says. "I thought, 'what makes me think that I can do better than them?'" Ultimately, the countrysoul singer figured the worst that could happen at an audition was rejection. In 2008, Beard auditioned for American Idol Season 8 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"Finally one year I got convinced to do it and the worst they could say was no. My dad had been asking me to audition for years and he couldn't believe when I suggested that I go audition down in Puerto Rico," Beard says. "Honestly the chances of me getting cut right away were high and so I figured, well, I might as well make a vacation out of it and go down to Puerto Rico and do it."
Her plans for a long vacation were cut short when she made it past the first round of auditions.
"I was shocked when I made it through the first round and it just kept going from there. I kept making it and making it," she says.
Eventually, Beard found herself auditioning in front of cameras and judges on American Idol's Hollywood Week.
"I'm so blessed that I got to experience that. I'm still shocked even today at the fans I have just from being on that show," she says.
Fast forward to 2013 and the Austin, Texas native has just released her first full length album, All Around Girl, on the VMG (Vallejo Music) label. Beard says all the songs on the album are very personal and often about stuff that she has experienced.
"A lot of the stuff that I write about isn't necessarily stuff that I'm going through right now in my life," she says. "It's kind of like a diary.
It is as if people are listening to my diary aloud. It is everything from how I grew up to where I'm from.
"It's more about my side of it and how it has affected me and how I've dealt with it," she adds. "I try to be as honest as I can and sometimes I find myself holding back a little bit when I write, but I really write it how I want to write it, which is honest and raw."
Beard says All Around Girl represents years of writing and hard work.
"I've just kept writing and came into my own and started writing better stuff," she says. "I wanted it to be great and I just wasn't ready to put it out yet."
Her new album began with a pop-rock vibe but changed as she began to pour more emotion into her writing.
"By the time I got deep into writing it my country roots started coming out," Beard says. "I also kept the vocals pretty raw and I could have gone and done more touch-ups and tried to perfect it but that's how I wanted to sound. I wanted it to sound a little bit more raw and natural to bring out my country Texas roots."
Beard began singing at an early age. By the time she was 12 years old she had been performing in the Texas rodeo circuit.
"I convinced my parents to let me perform in the Texas rodeo circuit and at rodeos," Beard says. "It was then that they realized how passionate and serious I was and how happy it made me."
"I was really blessed to have parents that supported me and let me do that type of stuff," Beard adds.
In her early teens, Beard's career took a sudden turn when she was recruited at the age of 15 by members of Boyz II Men to join a Pennsylvanian pop group called Sahara Lane. Beard relocated to Philadelphia and spent three years with the group.
"I learned so much about the music industry. I learned how much hard work and dedication it takes to make it in this industry," Beard says about her time with Sahara Lane. "Nothing really came out of the actual group. We had a bunch of meetings and stuff but it was kind of around the time the record industry was changing and they weren't signing these major deals anymore. People were buying labels out and going independent."
When Beard was 18-years-old she decided to leave Sahara Lane and return to the Lone Star State. The Texas native says she was exhausted from the music scene and that she decided to put her career on hold.
"One day I said I'm burnt out and this isn't making me happy anymore and I want to go to school," Beard says. "I felt that the music would find me again, which it did, but at the time I wanted a college education."
Beard then enrolled at the University of Texas for a communications degree and graduated in 2007.
"I developed and became an adult and came into my own," she says.
Even though Beard had put her music career on hold she knew she would return to her passion.
"I knew that I had to be on the creative side and start writing music again," she says.
Two years after graduating, Beard found herself in front of cameras during Hollywood Week on American Idol. The University of Texas graduate says just being on the show was a great learning experience, despite it being stressful at times.
"Honestly Hollywood Week was one of the most stressful weeks of my life. It is as stressful as it looks on T.V. You're thrown into a room with a group of headstrong musicians and it obviously creates drama,"
Beard says. "Once I got on the show and had my core group it was just amazing. It was amazing to meet everyone and we really were like a family. You get to see the whole side of how that works and it is totally a different world."
Beard explains that being on American Idol showed her just how much hard work it takes to make it in the industry and that being an individual is extremely important.
"When I was on the show it was intimidating because I knew I wasn't the best singer on the show and I'd watch all these other singers on the show and wonder how I could be like them. Then I realized that isn't what is going to make you memorable, it is about being yourself and being an individual," she says. "You have to be passionate and dedicated to what you do and be yourself and not like everyone else."
For more information on Kendall Beard visit kendallbeard.com or follow @KendallBeard on Twitter.
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