Mayors from around Anoka County came out to support Youth First Community of Promise April 12 and listened to a Twin Cities musician talk about overcoming fear during the 25th annual Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast.
Senior Pastor Kevin Doely of Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids said a prayer before mayors and city representatives stood up and committed to supporting the nonprofit, which engages youth through in-school and after-school programming.
The event raised roughly $14,000, including money from a donation auction where guests could raise numbered placards to pledge money.
Kat Perkins, a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2014, gave the keynote to the crowd assembled in the Bunker Hills Event Center. She shared about her life and how she encourages youth.
She told the audience how she sang onstage for the first time at age 5 during a high school recital at the K-12 school in her hometown of Scranton, N.D.
Perkins later joined a band and choir, eventually starting a band with her family, until she turned 18 and left her hometown.
Her passion for singing brought her to the Twin Cities, where she began auditioning for roles in theater.
“I was culture-shocked, I’m not going to lie,” Perkins said. “I had never really even stopped at a stoplight, let alone paid for parking – I had no idea that existed.”
One of her first jobs was with the improv comedy show “Tony N Tina’s Wedding.” From there she continued to work in theater, eventually landing a role in “Beehives.”
“I wasn’t even old enough to go to the bar, yet and my face was on a billboard,” Perkins said.
Then she started her own band, which grew in popularity until it won a battle of the bands and opened for Bon Jovi, leading to the band scoring a record deal.
However, her singing career was knocked off the rails when she had surgery to remove a cyst from her left vocal cord.
“Not only was it devastatingly scary, it was devastating to my career,” Perkins said. “It forced me into early retirement. The only option I had, literally within 24-hours, was to have emergency surgery, and life as I knew it was over.”
She became a nanny for a family in the area and assumed her singing career was behind her. That was, until representatives from “The Voice” recruited her based on a viral YouTube video, Perkins said.
Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine coached her and taught her the meaning of the word fearless, Perkins said.
After speaking about her background, Perkins gave an example of the speech she often makes to kids as a professional speaker.
She broke down her presentation into three points: be brave; dream it, do it; and letting you be you – which she called the ultimate equation for leading a fearless life.
She talked about the feeling she would get performing on “The Voice,” to the point where she blacked out performing.
However, Perkins argued that was not fear.
“If you look in the dictionary it says something that is going to cause pain or be dangerous or cause a threat to your life,” Perkins said.
Further, she argued that fear was the instinct that helps protect people from violence – referencing “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker.
She used an example of once being robbed at gunpoint to drive home her point of the difference between fear and what she felt going onstage.
“I do recall that very feeling of what fear actually is, and that’s not what I experience when I’m scared to take an opportunity or I’m nervous,” Perkins said. “That is actually fear’s evil cousin, and that is doubt.”
While doubt can hold people back, Perkins said, it can be controlled more than fear, and that’s how she defines being brave: controlling doubt.
Perkins’ second point was “dream it, do it,” a phrase she takes seriously. So much so that it was the 39th tattoo she got, Perkins said.
During her workshops Perkins often asks kids what they would do without fear – what are their dreams? Then she tells them that whenever they see an opportunity related to that answer they should take it, and if there are no opportunities, make them, Perkins said.
She also encouraged listeners to write down dreams, because then they become goals.
Her final point was to encourage kids to be themselves.
“You are not in control of any other person, place or thing,” Perkins said. “That will oh-so-help you find who you are on the inside. If you let go of all those outside things that you don’t have control of you will find who it is that you are and what you can actually do to make an impact.”