While many teenagers might be sitting at home watching their favorite television shows during the summer months, Kade and Kyle Kinnamon spend their summers performing the songs they have practiced during the school year and seizing opportunities that may put them on a path towards music or acting career.
The Kinnamon brothers, who have performed at the Sangamon River Music Festival for the past two years, added gigs in Champaign and Urbana to their summer schedule.
The boys kicked off their summer performance at the Sipyard in Urbana on July 21 and will perform on the corner of Walnut and Chester Streets in Champaign from 6 to 7 p.m. during Friday Night Live on July 28.
Although Kade and Kyle perform mostly cover songs, ranging from “What Do I Know” by Ed Sheehan, “Dear Theodosia” by Lin Manuel Miranda to “Imagine” by John Lennon, in their 14 to 17 song set, Kyle has also written a few songs that the brothers perform.
In 2014, Kyle’s song “Leave Me Be,” which told about his experiences with bullying was recognized by Disney’s Playlist blog. Kyle also recently posted his song titled, “No Other Way” to Soundcloud, and is receiving positive feedback from listeners.
“We talked with someone we know in LA who want to produce it professionally,” the boy’s mother Maggie said.
Kyle and Kade work weekly with a guitar and voice coach who helps them match songs they are interested in with chords that fit their harmonies.
“For the most part we have the same taste, so every song on our list, we both like,” Kade said.
“The lack of conflict with these guys when they practice is a source of joy for me,” Maggie added. “They make this awesome music together and they don’t even fight about it.”
But music isn’t the only creative venue the Kinnamon brothers are interested in pursuing.
As part of the Champaign Park District Youth Theater, Kade took on the role of the mischievous Scar in the Lion King this winter. Then he turned right around to begin to learn his part as Sky Masterson for the Champaign Park District Youth Theater production of Guys and Dolls.
Kade said the challenge of taking on different types of characters keeps him coming back year after year.
“I don’t usually look for characters like or not like me; I just look for the best role for acting,” he said. “I wanted to be Scar because, to me, he is a more interesting character than Simba. I’m a pretty down to earth, normal person, but Scar is this big really outgoing character. I thought that’d be more fun to play.”
And with parents who love theater, Kade said he always leans on their guidance as he prepares for a part.
“I have been blessed with very gifted parents,” he said. “My parents have been the main people I go to for preparations.They have been my coaches for a long time. And especially my dad for this one because he played Sky back in the day. He knew the role pretty well. He was definitely a good coach.”
“Both (Kade and Kyle) completely accept our notes, our suggestions, our critiques,” Maggie said.
Kyle will depend on the guidance of his parents as he prepares for the limelight when the family travels to Florida next week. After auditioning during a talent search in Champaign, Kyle was invited to audition for national agents looking for acting and musical talent.
During the six day stay, Kyle will be coached on acting, singing and modeling before he gets to sit down with agents who will go over his resume, provide critiques and potentially ask him to comeback to audition for a role in a commercial or film scene.
Kyle said during his time in Florida he wants to learn more about how to present himself in front of a close-up camera.
“I’ve only ever been in plays and a few local movies, so I’d like to get used to doing that stuff,” he said.
“It’d be awesome to do this stuff professionally: act in movies or TV shows or be a professional musician,” he continued.
For Kyle, it has always been about the music, though.
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” he said. “I’ve always just loved music. Always. As long as I can remember. There’s just something about it.”
Kyle hopes that through his lyrics he is able to relate to others by sharing personal and uplifting messages.
“(Kyle) sort of keep his thoughts in,” Maggie said. “This is really how he’s expressing himself and connects with people.”
After performing at Friday Night Live, the boys will take a break for travel and starting school before returning to the stage for Urbana First Fridays on September 1.