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Spencer Kane was just five years old when he recorded his first music video. Now 18, he’s making professional music videos as a pop/R&B recording artist and actor. As a maker of pop music with a positive message, the Kendallville resident has been twice-nominated for Indie Pop Artist of the Year at the AI Music Awards in Los Angeles. And as a spokesperson for anti-bullying campaigns, he’s spoken and performed in front of thousands of people around the nation. Now that he’s graduating high school, he’s hoping to build upon his early success as a performer and inspirational speaker.
The road to success hasn’t been easy, though. He became a bullying target in the fifth grade, and after ditching a promising sports career for music (he had hoped to play at the collegiate level before switching his focus) the bullying intensified to the point where he was being physically threatened. His parents pulled him out of the school he had been attending and enrolled him in another nearby school.
The move was good for Kane. His new schoolmates were more accepting of his extracurricular activities, and the school officials counted his music career as vocational training, allowing him to attend classes on a part-time basis. The time away from school has enabled him to participate more fully in the entertainment field. He’s been able to practice, tour, record new music, and even appear on a TV show that is taped in Nashville.
Just as importantly, he’s been able to take his negative experiences and turn them into positive messages in his music and in his anti-bullying efforts.
“I center [my music] around hope, encouragement, positive things, thing that will uplift somebody,” he says.
“I avoid talking about sex, drugs, partying … That’s not me. That’s not my lifestyle, and I don’t write about it.
“I want my music to encourage them or make them say ‘Wow, that’s neat.’ I want that to be relatable, and so that’s what I aim for in my music.”
So far, Kane has released one full-length LP, an EP, and several singles. His album Runway was released last September. It features the title track, a song Kane considers to be a highlight of his career thus far.
Another song on the album, “One of the Kind,” is representative of Kane’s work in that it is focused on encouraging listeners to pursue kindness in their lives. It was also the title track of his first EP, released in 2013.
Central to his music and his life is Kane’s faith. It has influenced his lifestyle, his music and how he’s reacted to the negative experiences he’s been confronted with. And while his music is often characterized as Christian or religious, it’s not a label he wants applied to it.
“I don’t like to consider myself a Christian artist; I want to be an artist that’s a Christian,” he says. “There’s a … label that comes along with Christian music that I don’t want to be associated with.”
His goal is to be an artist first, one whose faith is reflected in “his writing, his actions, his morals, his standards, his view on life.”
His faith has also positioned him to move beyond the music field and into the realm of acting. For the past two seasons, he has appeared on the TBN show iShine Knect, playing a fictionalized version of himself.
“The acting is something that I love to be a part of. iShine Knect is a faith-based alternative to Disney and Nickelodeon shows that I act on,” he says. “And I’ve learned a lot just being there, having to learn scripts, read and remember my lines. It hasn’t been too difficult; it’s been a pretty relaxed setting. That kind of took me off guard. It was just really fun and not too stressful.”
The association with iShine has enabled Kane to expand in a couple of ways. First, by branching out into acting, he has opened up some possibilities that include potential film roles. He has some auditions coming up, but he’s keeping mum on the details. Second, some of the touring he’s done has been on the iShine tour. It’s a part of a touring schedule that includes a total of about 50 dates a year.
All of this activity in the entertainment field would be unusual for just about anyone, but especially for a teenager just graduating from high school.
Kane maintains that he is a regular teen, but after graduation he won’t be heading off to college the way many of his peers will be, at least not right away. Doors in the entertainment industry have been consistently opening up for him since he switched his focus from sports, so he’s going to continue in that vein for the near future. He’s putting off college for a year to pursue music, but if that doesn’t pan out for him, he plans to revert to the college track
The future, then, remains uncertain, but the prospects for a music career seem promising. So far, his music has spawned a small cottage industry. A corporation, Spencer Kane Music, has been established with a full-time staff person. And whether his music career continues to blossom or at some point becomes untenable, it’s safe to assume that music will continue to be a part of his life, just as it has been since a very young age.
“We are filming a lot of stuff this summer for things, and I’m also going to be touring a lot on the road, going to many different states, doing a bunch of the music videos this coming year, playing some new music, so it’s definitely what I do 24/7,” he says.