Every January 1, I choose a word to focus on for the year. This year, it was the simplest word ever—good. I have tried to focus on the good, but the world is full of politics, prejudices and partiality. It’s definitely not always good.
I believe that there is something good that can be found in every day; however, it is a rare thing when someone truly uses their platform for good. Fame, whether life-long or in 15-minute increments, tends to blind its recipients to the conditions of others. There are a few souls, however, that use their platform for altruism. Kat Perkins is one of those.
If you are a fan of NBC’s The Voice, you may be familiar. Perkins was a semi-finalist in 2014. Until January 2018, I had never heard of her because I don’t watch television. My daughter started playing her music, having discovered her on YouTube. I was impressed by her vocal range and ability and her covers of Heart’s classic rock hits. I followed Perkins on social media. Soon, I noticed that every summer since her time on The Voice, she had formed a nonprofit foundation to provide students interested in performing arts the opportunity to learn from industry professionals and to perform on the stage at North Dakota’s Medora Musical as a part of a summer camp.
I knew a kid that loves the performing arts. I knew a kid and her mom that LOVE Medora, ND and the Medora Musical. I knew that our Grandma Cindy lived just an hour and a half from Medora. I also knew that it was a long shot since only 40 campers were selected each year, but since we go to the Dakotas every summer, we took that chance. I did not have to beg or to ask Tatum twice if she wanted to audition. To our delight, she was accepted and enjoyed Badlands Rising Star Camp where she learned vocal techniques, dance steps, marketing and collaboration. She also got to see a person who had attained success on a big stage choosing to interact with middle and high school students in rural North Dakota when there were many other high profile places she could have chosen to be.
Perkins was a household name. One of her songs was nominated for a Grammy. She has opened for Bon Jovi. She had music on the iTunes Top 5. The sky is the limit for the talented daughter of musicians who always wanted to be a musician herself. There are many choices that she could have made once her name and her music were recognized. She chose to create Rising Star Foundation and to invest in young performers. She remembered her beginnings as a Burning Hills Singer in Medora and brought her camp back to the place that gave her the chance to spread her wings as a performer. She is choosing to invest in the future while honoring the past. To me, this is success.
Kat Perkins somehow gets to know every student personally every summer. I know this for a fact. When she sent me a message several weeks ago asking where Tatum’s camp application was, I was floored. She remembered my girl. I told her that we wouldn’t be attending and thanked her for the work that she did. I told her how Tatum had benefitted from it and how because of a few days in Medora, she has strong, diverse friendships. When she asked me to consider rearranging my travel dates (I was supposed to be on vacation in SD last week), I told her that financially I could not make camp work and thanked her again for the investments she made in the lives of young people. She then asked if I would bring her if she could secure sponsors. What mom would say no to that? I agreed, but did not say a word to Tatum or to Cindy because I knew the probability of this was low.
I was wrong. Within 24 hours, I was changing my travel plans and letting Tatum read the messages that Perkins and I had exchanged. The countdown to ND is in the single digits now. Pretty soon, my kid and 39 others will be sharing the stage with someone who has chosen to use her platform for good.
Your platform may not be a major stage, but whatever it is, use it for good.
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.