Kenzie Ralston Learns to Make Music Her Career

Out & About in Greater Tulsa by EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

SWEET SOUNDS: Kenzie Ralston, sings with her band Moonshine Miracle, which includes her husband, Miles Ralston, left, at the Kendall Whittier Arts Festival in June. Kenzie has been involved with music her entire life but only a few years ago began pursuing it full time.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

Being a full-time musician, supporting yourself solely on your craft, your art, can’t be easy, I’ve often thought. I wonder how musicians do it.

I got the opportunity to pose those questions to a Tulsa musician and a friend of mine from years past whom I recently ran into unexpectedly.

I saw Kenzie Ralston in June at the Kendall Whittier Arts Festival where she was preparing to sing with her band Moonshine Miracle.

I love the slow recognition and then the instant familiarity that takes place when past friends re-enter my life. And the shared memories and laughter that usually follow.

When I knew Kenzie, about six years ago, she was a fellow Starbucks barista and a quiet college kid who would, on occasion, quietly hum or murmur a tune as she worked.

Now, she provides the gentle, haunting vocals for her newly-formed band; is one part of the Kenzie & Kendal duo; has put out her own indie song on iTunes; and has auditioned for The Voice.

After the hugs and the general catching up, I couldn’t help but ask my questions, the answers with which I was a bit surprised.

“Musicians are actually starting to move to Tulsa,” Kenzie told me.

Wouldn’t they want a larger music city like Austin or Nashville? I asked.

To which she replied, no. “Tulsa is less competitive,” she said, “it’s growing in its number of venues, and venues here are more open to singer/songwriters and allowing them to do their own original music.”

Which is huge for musicians trying to create their own music.

In larger cities, venues are often looking for bands to perform well-known cover songs, “so if a venue there allows a singer to perform their original material, don’t expect to get paid,” she continued.

Kenzie, though, like most musicians, wants and needs to get paid.

“I want to be able to do music full time and support myself,” she said. Something Kenzie, and her husband and fellow bandmate Miles Ralston, are doing. But it hasn’t been exactly easy for her, Kenzie admitted.

Kenzie’s love of music began at home. She remembers often hearing her father, a music minister, sing and play guitar around the house. “Early on, I learned to harmonize, and I really got the sense of what music is,” she said.

In college, Kenzie majored in music, and it was during those college years that she teamed up with Kendal Osborne to form Kenzie & Kendal.

Then, she got a none-musical job at a shoe store. “I felt good that I was working with Kendal, because I was feeding my music that way, but with my other work, it was not a creative environment, so I started to feel lost,” she said.

After that realization, she began to focus more on songwriting and on re-visiting instruments that she had previously set aside.

Then, she met Miles, a local musician who had already been supporting himself with his music full time for many years.

His work ethic and diligence in contacting venue owners and creating opportunities to play around town really inspired me, she said.

A few months later, Kenzie approached Abbey Road Academy, a music school in Jenks, and, in April 2014, she began teaching there. “I felt like I just needed to jump off the cliff and do it,” she said. “I thought that if I don’t take this step now to pursue music as a career, I could be in the same place I am now for years.”

Kenzie currently teaches voice, piano, saxophone and guitar at the music school and sings every Sunday at Kirk of the Hills.

“Since I started doing things to focus on music, everything has really fallen into place,” she continued.

Earlier this year, she was asked to audition for The Voice, making it to the second round of auditions. However, her bouts with occasional stage fright reared their head that day.

“But the woman loved my sound. And she said she wants me to come back next year,” Kenzie said, vowing that by next year her nerves will be completely under control. Kenzie was also contacted by American Idol to audition, but she decided against it.

Kenzie continues to put out albums with Kenzie & Kendal, which are available on iTunes; her own solo song that she put out on iTunes, “Please Stop,” features the indie sound she would pursue if she ever took on a solo career.

In May, Kenzie and Miles helped to form Moonshine Miracle, a six-person band, its sound Kenzie describes as a mix of Fleetwood Mac and Fleet Foxes.

Moonshine Miracle performs around Tulsa and has future plans to record.

“Music is influential in so many different ways to so many different people. Music takes me to another place in my mind and challenges me to grow and think differently,” Kenzie said. “Pursuing music is a long hard journey, but I’m motivated and willing.

“And I feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”

Updated 07-27-2015

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