I asked if there were specific moments she was challenged to stray from her faithful path. Only after some prodding, Hall described an experience with former "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert. The season eight star, with more than 2 million albums and 4 million singles sold, was hired by "Idol" to mentor singers during Hollywood week.
“He was very nice,” Hall said, “and he’s extremely talented, but in one of the sessions he wanted me to wear a short dress and lay on the floor in a very sultry way.” He explained to the young performer, she said, that it’s simply the way the business works and, eventually, she’d need to conform to find success.
“I’m pretty stubborn,” Hall told me, “especially in my faith. So it was easy to make that decision. I had predetermined I wouldn’t sell myself that way.”
Dawn Hall, Kenzie’s mother, heard the exchange that day and praised her daughter for standing firm on her faith. Both conversations ended up on the cutting room floor, a fact that doesn’t bother either of them.
“Most of all, through the 'Idol' experience, I learned that Kenzie doesn't carry her faith like a neon sign," Dawn Hall said. "It's a quiet commitment. She knows who she is and doesn't let outside influences change her or determine her choices. No matter what the outside world demanded or wanted from her, she made her decisions and never felt she needed to explain herself or make excuses. She stayed true to herself and her beliefs.”
Kenzie learned plenty, too. “I learned a lot about myself and my testimony. I grew a lot and I learned Heavenly Father never gets tired of our prayers.” After a long breath, Kenzie added, “He really is there. He will always be there, especially in times of stress.” The thoughtful teen paused again, then said, “Yes, he is always there.”
Before wrapping the session, I asked her what her goals were with Idol now a memory. She declared, without hesitation, “My No. 1 goal is to be a great mom and wife. My No. 2 goal is to be a successful musician. If that’s national, or around Utah or even right here locally in Draper, I’ll be happy with whatever comes as long as I accomplish that first goal.”
Later this summer, Kenzie Hall will see her first full-length album hit iTunes. Once again, she’ll be anxious and antsy to see whether America likes what she has to offer. But whether the album goes gold or never sells a single copy, she’ll always have her sights set on something far more important than the charts.
Because lights or no lights, sales or no sales, applause or the quiet of crickets, she knows who her No. 1 fan is — and she knows he is always there.
Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and his latest, "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, applevalleybarndance.com or jasonfwright.com.
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