At the end of her junior year of high school, small-town Minnesota singer-songwriter Molly Kate Kestner wrote her first song. “His Daughter,” a spiritually driven narrative about someone she knew who had been abused and got pregnant at a young age, came to the artist while she was working a shift as a janitor at her dad’s electrical shop. Kestner recorded a raw video of herself performing it on her great grandmother’s out-of-tune piano on “this hideous, green, iPhone 4 with a cracked screen” and posted it on her Facebook page.
Within 48 hours, the clip had amassed 13,570 likes. When she posted it on YouTube, actor/social media star George Takei shared the link with his nine million plus followers with the provocative question: “Has America found its young Adele?” Her views skyrocketed––they now surpass 15.2 million––and the song caught the attention of celebs like Jordin Sparks, Ashley Judd and, not long after, Diane Sawyer, who introduced a segment about Kestner’s viral fame, which included a live performance on Good Morning America.
"They saw me as a prolific songwriter who could make a meaningful, long-term career."
Though Kestner was later invited to New York and Los Angeles to meet with and field potential offers from six other labels, the first and only major label executives who personally visited her home in Minnesota in response to the buzz and their excitement about her potential were Mike Caren, then President of Worldwide A&R at Warner Music Group, and Ian Hunter, VP of A&R Research at Atlantic Records.
“I chose to sign with them because they immediately saw me as a prolific songwriter who could make a meaningful, long-term career out of this, rather than a one song wonder they could capitalize on in the short term,” Kestner says. “They immediately wanted to hook up sessions in L.A. for me with established writers and help me develop my craft. To me, that resonated. The best choice I could make was signing with a label more concerned about my future than just a flash in the pan. I have always believed that if you’re writing music that’s true, your truth will always be relevant.”
In anticipation of a full-length album release later in 2017, Molly Kate Kestner has released two lead singles, “Good Die Young” (inspired by Prince’s passing) and “Prom Queen.” Both were produced by Nick Ruth, who is working with Kestner and Amy Kuney on new songs for Kelly Clarkson.
Photo by Jimmy Fontaine
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