Hopkins County, KY (10/1/13) – Not many local 12-year-olds can boast about stage prowess, but Hopkins County resident and singer-songwriter Abagail “Abby” Maki can.
Abby is a 7th grader at James Madison Middle School (JMMS) and spends most of her time singing in chorus, working on her archery skills, painting, drawing, and playing her guitar.
Sarah Maki, Abby’s mother, even tells me that Abby has figured out how to successfully juggle her household chores with guitar practice. She has honed her ability to fold clothes with one hand while strumming her guitar with the other. Exceptional multi-tasking if I do say so myself.
I’ve known Abby since she was only a few years old. My favorite memory of Abby actually took place at a Halloween party I hosted back in 2006 when Abby would have been about 5-years-old.
In a room, full of people, Abby sang a song from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Her eyes were wide, as I’m sure she was nervous to sing in front of so many people, but she did it anyway. She didn’t miss a word. I was impressed then and I am impressed now.
Over the last year, Abby has started sharing her gift on a much broader scale. A couple of months ago, Abby played her very first public gig at Blackwell’s Diner and Sports Bar. Although she says she was extremely nervous the first time, she belted it out anyway.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Abby and talking with her and her mother about her music, her life, and her goals for the future. The interview went as follows:
How old are you now Abby? Where do you go to school?
I’m 12 and I’m in the 7th grade. I go to James Madison Middle School.
When did you first get into music?
I was really little. I got my first guitar when I was 7-years-old. It was a Daisy Rock guitar. It was hot pink. My mom has been taking me to concerts my whole life. My dad, who lives up in Maryland, interviews different bands and musicians for a website that he works for called live-metal.net. Both of my parents are really into music, so that is why I’m really into music. I’ve been singing all my life.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
My mom took me to see Taylor Swift. It was awesome.
Do you prefer playing electric or acoustic guitar?
I like acoustic better. I just think they sound better. They are easier for me to play and sing with. With electric guitar, I feel like I should be screaming. [laughs]
Do you play any other instruments?
I play piano a little bit, but I’m not amazing at it.
Did you take piano lessons?
I took YouTube lessons. That’s how I learned how to play.
Not too long ago, you had your first gig at Blackwell’s. How was your first performance?
I was really nervous. I mean, I was really nervous. It was June 5th at 8:30pm. I even remember the date. For the first couple songs, I was super nervous, but then I just got into it. I was like, “This is the best thing ever!”
How did you feel afterwards? Was it a really big accomplishment for you?
Yeah. I mean, I was nervous, but I just did it anyway. I was so excited after I was done. I was like, “I’m going to be famous now!” [laughs] I got a lot of applause.
What are you future goals, as far as music goes?
It would be amazing to become famous for doing what I love. But, if live performance doesn’t really work out, I want to score movies.
Is there a particular genre you’d be interested in working on?
I think horror would be a lot of fun because it’s suspenseful. Any genre, really. Whatever pays. [laughs]
What is your favorite kind of music?
I’m really into rock music now and I used to hate rock music. I just didn’t like it.
Who are your favorite bands?
I like Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Nine Inch Nails, and Sick Puppies.Why is music so important to you?
I’ve always liked music. I like making music. It’s who I am and I’m good at it. Music makes me comfortable with who I am.
Why do you think music is important to the community as a whole?
Music is a way to express yourself. I think that is very important. Everyone should be able to express themselves the way they want to.
What would you say to other kids who might be close to your age who also have an interest in music? How would you encourage them to share their talents with others?
Don’t give up. Be yourself. Be confident and be proud of yourself. Don’t let other people drag you down. It’s you. It’s the kind of music you like. If being a musician is what you want to do with your life, do it!
Who encourages you the most?
My mommy, because she is always telling me I’m amazing and that I can do whatever I set my mind to.
Sarah Maki – I’m her number one fan.
Through a mother’s eyes, how have you seen Abby grow creatively throughout her life?
SM – Her level of maturity far surpasses most adults that I know. She puts so much of herself into her music. She is very perceptive when it comes to analyzing what the lyrics of a song actually mean and she’s only 12-years-old. There is a song called “Riptide” by the Sick Puppies and that one really got to her. It just really sunk in with her and really meant a lot to her. The band Flyleaf was a big inspiration to her for a while. She actually got to meet them.
Does she practice regularly?
SM – Instead of doing her chores in the morning before school, she plays her guitar. When she’s done with everything in the afternoon, she plays guitar. She’ll be folding clothes with one hand and playing her guitar with the other. She is extremely dedicated and headstrong when it comes to what she wants to learn and accomplish. About six years ago, Landon [Miller] showed Abby where to put her hands on her guitar and how to strum it properly. Other than that, she’s never really had a lesson. To develop into what she is now musically, almost completely on her own, is pretty awesome. I couldn’t do it.
So Abby, how many original songs have you written so far?
I’ve written a couple songs. I just haven’t really played them anywhere yet.
What are your favorite songs to cover when you play a gig?
Anything by Sick Puppies. Their music has a lot of good meaning behind it and their songs are really fun to sing. I really like Sick Puppies. I’ll cover a mainstream song every now and again.
SM – She likes everything from Pantera to Taylor Swift.
How do you like living in Madisonville? What do you think of the local music scene?
I like it here, but I haven’t really had a chance to participate in stuff like Friday Night Live, because I am in Maryland at my dad’s during the summer. I haven’t really had a chance to see many local musicians in action. I’m still young and in school, so I’m not hanging out a lot at the local music venues.
How often do you visit your dad in Maryland?
I go up there for spring, summer, and Christmas break.
SM – It’s important for her to have a relationship with her dad and his family. It’s important for Abby to get to know that half of her. But I do miss her when she is gone and summers are really lonely.
What kind of stuff do you do musically when you are up in Maryland visiting your dad?
I don’t really have any instruments up there. I have an amateur guitar, but the neck is warped. It sounds really bad. They won’t listen to me and they won’t buy me another one. I’d like to have an actual guitar or a piano up there so I’m able to practice.What do your friends at school think about what you are doing with your music?
Well, I’m in chorus at school and there are auditions for solos coming up. Everybody keeps coming up to me and telling me I should audition for the solo. They know I play my guitar and sing in the talent shows at school. Recently, our chorus group started making a professional CD and I got picked to participate in that.
Are you in band at school too?
No. I wanted to be.
SM – We changed school districts right before school started so she was unable to participate in band. If you didn’t take band the first year you couldn’t sign up for the second year. I don’t think there is an instrument she couldn’t play though.
What are some of your other hobbies Abby?
I like drawing and painting. I also like taking karate classes. I do archery at school, too.
SM – She is pretty well-rounded and an all-around good kid. She can get an attitude like any other 12-year-old, but she is the most amazing kid I know.
Sugg Street Post
Written by Jessica Dockrey
Photos by Jessi Smith