What were you doing at age 18?

That’s exactly what we asked ourselves after speaking with rising country music star Kayla Hruby (stage name Kayla Ruby). The Broomfield High School senior gained national attention following her September performance of the National Anthem at the Broncos game and that fame has only increased since. This past Friday, she did what many local artists have dreamed of by performing at the beloved Bluebird Theater. We caught an interview with the young singer just before the show to discuss her thoughts and emotions on her journey into the industry thus far.

READ: Check Out This Upcoming Documentary Exploring the Colorado Music Scene

303 Magazine: How long have you and your family been living in Colorado? 

Kayla Ruby: I was born in Texas and was four-years-old when we moved back to Colorado from Lubbock. My dad got relocated back and we’ve been here over since. We like to consider ourselves natives.

303: Do you remember the exact point when you thought to yourself “I can really do this?”

KH: I’ve always loved to sing and was always in musicals, but the first time I ever performed by myself was in sixth grade. It was at a talent show and I sang “Rolling in the Deep” [by Adele]. I was so nervous, but after I did it I was like, this is definitely something I can see myself doing forever.

303: So what has the highlight of your singing career been thus far?

KH: I’m hoping the highlight is tonight [laughs]. And performing at the Broncos game September 11 was incredible — I was so nervous. It felt as if the stadium was going to eat me up but really the event was about representing the people standing behind me. Everyone holding the flag that night was either a volunteer from 9/11 or a family member of a victim and I wanted to go out there and make them proud, so that was probably the highlight to be honest.

303: As you embark on this new adventure, will you also be in school? And are you planning on going to college or pursuing music? 

KH: I graduated early. I’ll still walk in May but I’m done with my classes so right now I’m focusing on music. As far as college goes, I was originally going to go to West Virginia for a soccer scholarship but after the whole record label thing with Third & James I’ve been thinking that I’ll either go to Regis or take classes online.

303: Where did your love for country music begin? 

KH: My family for sure. My immediate family is all from Colorado but my dad’s side is from a town in Wisconsin and they’re all about country music. I grew up around it and fell in love with it. I remember when I was little we would fall asleep in the parents room and when we woke up my mom would use “Five O’Clock Somewhere” with Jimmy Buffet to wake us up. That’s my first memory of country music.

303: Do you have a particular artist that you derive inspiration from?

KH: I grew up just wanting to be Carrie Underwood. I have always looked up to her. The first song that I sang that made my mother think that I had a future in singing was her song “I Told You So,” and my family was like, wow, maybe she can take this further than karaoke.

303: In regard to your on-stage performances, do you have any methods that you use to prepare and calm your nerves? 

KH: I don’t really get nerves before the show. Apart from the September 11 performance I’ve always been pretty calm before my shows. I just know that all I can do is my best so I give it my all because that’s all I’ve got.

303: What advice do you have for other young artists beginning their career? 

KH: Don’t give up. Don’t stop working, and that’s a true testament to my story. Last year I was ready to quit singing, give up on it and go to West Virginia to play soccer, but then when this opportunity came I realized that I can do it. Keep dreaming no matter what because anything is possible if you work hard. 

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Ruby is set to release her debut album in the coming months, stay tuned with 303 Magazine for further updates and information. 

All photography courtesy of Jenna Sparks Photography

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