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She Got There: Kirstie Maldonado, Singer & Member of Pentatonix
What is the best part of your job?
Kirstie Maldonado: Being able to wake up every day knowing I'm living out my dream of performing is the best feeling in the world. I also never traveled much previous to being in the group, so getting to adventure out and see so many beautiful places has been amazing! The different cultures and ways of each place fascinate me, and I love getting to meet so many different people. It's all a blessing!
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
KM: Oh man, so many things. I went into this when I was 19 and it was a career path I thought I'd never be a part of. Moving to LA and making albums was an exciting outlet, but I always thought I'd be slumming it job to job in NYC with hopes of being on Broadway! There are a lot more twists and turns than one would think, a lot of background work that can influence what an artist does or what their brand is.
Fortunately, we've had a lot of freedom branding who we are, but we were very fortunate with our deal and how we got into the business. We didn't receive the biggest support initially, so we worked hard to make our dreams and ideas a reality. But there are a lot of loopholes. In general, I just wish I had educated myself more about what I was getting in to as opposed to following along. I couldn't contribute much that way.
If you could sing a duet with any musical artist, who would it be and why?
KM: Sara Bareilles! I have always nerded out to her music and I’m obsessed with her! When I found out she was a judge on the show that got PTX its start (NBC's The Sing-Off), I freaked out! I just think she's an inspirational person and songwriter. I love her style and her personality, and she's just so grounded and firm in her beliefs! And I think musically she's so talented! When I saw her on tour for the first time last year, I was basically crying the entire time, because I was so in awe of how talented and fun she was. She's a great role model of staying true to yourself and not caring about conforming to anything; she’s a true artist, in my opinion!
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
KM: I feel like 2013 was one giant snowball of me being confused with my place in life and within the group. A lot of it was self-confidence issues, a lot of outside issues and a lot of me questioning the future of what I was doing. And my mistake was letting all that influence me so that I wasn’t the best I could be in life!
I think many in this industry go through that down time where their belief in themselves gets knocked down a few pegs, and they take a moment to decide whether this is exactly what they should be doing with their lives. Through all of that, I learned that performing is what makes me the happiest and any outside factors shouldn't change that. I learned that I want to touch people's lives through what I do and inspire them to believe in themselves and their own dreams. And I learned to surround myself by good people that support and love me, to grow a backbone and to stand up for myself and what makes me happy.
You always have to take every opportunity you get and go for it with all your heart while staying true to yourself. In this industry especially, there's the potential to have so many copies of what's already been done well, but the best you can give to anyone, and what's worked well for the group, is what you offer.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
KM: This year, honestly. This year has been a whirlwind. While 2013 was a struggle for me individually, professionally it's been the best year of my life! I geeked out when we met Ellen DeGeneres (and got to sing on her show, which is a huge deal for me), Beyonce acknowledged our Beyonce medley on Facebook and traveling to Europe and being able to tour and perform there was indescribable. I can't pick one moment. There are so many surreal moments where we're just performing and I'm like, “Wow, this is incredible. This is why I do this. This is why I love what I do.” It's making sure you live for every moment and take it all in. And it's remembering how blessed I am for all these amazing opportunities.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
KM: Be the best you that you can be. Find others with similar aspirations, the same passion and love of music that you have and the same work ethic. Never be complacent and never accept mediocrity. Surround yourself with good people who support and love you. And have confidence in yourself and your abilities!