VIDEO: Kiera Osment, 12, is hiding a force beyond her years
I'M listening to a song called The Old Oak Tree on the website SoundCloud, simple piano accompanied by raw but soulful vocals. Had I not known who the artist behind it was, I would assume I was listening to a 20-something singer songwriter who's lived through some heartbreak and sadness, possibly lost a job or a lover in her time or struggled to pay the rent.
However, the musician behind this song with such mature, emotive lyrics is in fact 12-year-old Kiera Osment from Barnstaple.
VIDEO: The Oak Tree by Kiera Osment:
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This young talent, who turned to music after being bullied at school, by the age of 10, had written a collection of songs. Since then, Kiera has been busy writing new material and has started performing her songs live around the North Devon music scene. I caught up with her to find out more.
Despite appearing confident on stage, Kiera, sounds timid and quiet on the phone. Her voice resonates a childlike innocence, and I can hardly believe this is the same voice I just heard belting out one of her own songs with a force and control beyond her years. Kiera tells me that she's written around 20 new songs:
"I get inspiration from all kinds of things. With my latest song I was waiting for an important letter and a song just popped in my head."
The letter in question was from South West Music School, a music charity working with talented young musicians and singers in the South West. Kiera was accepted on to its feeder scheme which provides a year-long programme of workshops. The song she wrote is called Yesterday and can be heard on SoundCloud.
Kiera, who turned 12 in May, only braved her first live crowd earlier this year in February when she went along to a regular open mic night at The Reform in Pilton. Considering her mother told me she is a "pretty shy girl", she didn't seem fazed performing in front of a crowd of strangers for the first time.
"It was really fun, I just go into my own little bubble" she says.
She now does one or two floor spots a week in various parts of North Devon including Cook Island at Mullacott Cross, The White Lion in Braunton, Bar Electric in Woolacombe and The Thatch in Croyde. She has branched out into gigs and festivals too. In May she had her own gig at the Instow Arms and also played The Llama Festival, and she won the Birdman Talent Show in Ilfracombe, beating 15 other artists.
As if these accomplishments were not impressive enough, Kiera plays the piano, guitar, cello and modestly tells me that she only "dabbles" in the clarinet. When she was 10 she said she wanted to be a performer, composer and music teacher when she grew up. It appears that at 12, the latter is already the case, as she is already teaching others how to play the piano (two of which are older than her). When she's not playing or teaching, she's getting inspiration from favourite artists Katie Melua, Kate Walsh and Norah Jones.
Mum Christy Osment is immensely proud of her daughter who is home-schooled.
"When she's about to go on stage I sit there with heart palpitations and she'll be relaxed and reading a book or something," she says. She goes on to praise the North Devon music scene which she says has been incredibly supportive, with older musicians helping and encouraging Kiera. Ever the professional, Kiera plans to buy her own PA system with the prize money from winning Birdman Talent Show so she can be less reliant on borrowing from others and do more of her own gigs.
You can catch Kiera most Monday nights at The Reform, Pilton. You can also listen to her songs at www.sound cloud.com/kieraosment
'10cm tall' written and performed by Kiera Osment:
'Feelings' written and performed by Kiera Osment:
'Around the world in 80 days' written and performed by Kiera Osment: