Kids Who Make A Difference: Katie Gavin

In the past year, singer-songwriter Katie Gavin became a YouTube sensation when her video “Whip My Hair” was picked up by MTV.

She also performed with Keith Urban at the Los Angeles Tennis Center, and played in the famed New York clubs The Bitter End and The Living Room. And to cap off an amazing year, she appeared on the Grammy Awards, singing back up for Best New Artist winner Esperanza Spalding.

She did all this while maintaining a rigorous academic and extracurricular schedule as a senior at New Trier Township High School. She’s preparing to major in neuroscience, as well as music, in college.

“I’m a nerd, so I took classes about humans that would help me understand them philosophically, biologically and psychologically,” she explains.

But Katie doesn’t look like a nerd. In her online videos and in person, she is a 100 percent fresh-faced, acoustic rocker chick—candid, charming, freckled and destined to be a star.

“I like being a songwriter because it allows me to explore the human condition, and I love the creative process,” she says.

The source of Katie’s musical gifts is a mystery. “My family are infamously bad singers,” she says with a smile. “Last Christmas, my mother bought my grandmother a kazoo so she would stop singing.”

Katie first picked up a guitar in junior high and soon found herself writing songs. Friends convinced her to perform at an Erika’s Lighthouse benefit her sophomore year. This gave her the courage to apply for the Grammy Foundation’s summer camp. “I was terrified though—only a dozen are admitted,” she recalls.

Her camp experience led to the show with Keith Urban, and helped her land the gig at the Grammy Awards.

“It was surreal. I don’t really follow pop culture, but I was only 20 feet from Bob Dylan backstage!” she says.

Her advice? “We need more girl musicians around here,” she says. “And it’s a shame that so many people don’t share their music with others.”

Hopefully, Katie’s example will lead others to share their talents with the world and address the human condition, too.

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