Kjersti Long, a 12-year-old music prodigy from Clinton, NJ, burst onto the music scene with her debut album Stronger Than You Think I Am and immediately served notice she will be on the airwaves for quite some time.
Long made a decidedly aggressive move by including her take on such rock-chestnuts as Aerosmith anthem “Dream On,” Queen’s “Somebody To Love” and Pat Benatar’s passionate “Love Is A Battlefield.” Added to that are six original compositions.
Her original songs include, “Not Helpless,” “Illuminate Me,” “Not Your Princess,” “Love Blind” and “Roller Coaster” and the emotional, “I Cry,” a tribute to loved ones lost.
Long nails them seemingly effortlessly with a excitement and totally enjoyable passion. But at 12, does she really understand what she’s singing about? Not many sixth graders would.
Her debut album was produced by Jeremy Long and Leesa Csolak, with Frankie Vinciby under the auspices of Van Dean at Broadway Records in New York City. It was released July 19.
Kjersti launched her stage concert career last March at The Bitter End in New York City. She’s also performed in San Diego at The House of Blues, at Asbury Park’s The Stone Pony, at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre and other local venues.
Musical prodigies are highly perishable product. They’re pushed on stage at 12, famous by 14 and has beens by 16.
But Kjersti is no kid-bopper. She’s has a solid rock sound just when rock music is undergoing a bit of a revival, which bodes well for her longevity.
Oddly, unlike other recent pop phenoms, she also has a surprisingly low presence on YouTube, which made stars out of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
Instead, Kjersti and her band have been warming up for major national bands including, David Bryan of Bon Jovi.
We met up with Long at a band rehearsal for our interview:
IM: The covers on your album, “Love Is A Battlefield,” “Dream On” and “Somebody To Love” are just spectacular; how did you arrive at those choices?
LONG: We actually found these songs while listening to the radio.
IM: We also loved “Love Blind.” There are six original songs on the album, and they’re really all outstanding. What’s your writing process like?
LONG: Whenever I write I like to start with the melody, which my dad and I write, and then from there we find lyrics for the chorus, and then the verses come after. But every once in a while we try something different.
IM: What do you listen to; who are your influences?
LONG: I listen to the radio and all the recent hits, but I also love some of the older stuff, too. Actually, one of my favorite songs of all time is NSYNC’s “No Strings Attached.”
IM: Clearly, this first record is just the start … what’s your plan for future recordings?
LONG: I definitely think that there’s going to be more albums. We are writing a bunch of new songs and we hope to share them with the world.
IM: Your family is obviously a big support system; what roles have they played?
LONG: I love my family, and they definitely play a big role in my life. My dad and, just recently my mom, have helped me with my song writing and my dad plays the guitar on some of the more acoustic songs.
IM: How did you connect with Broadway Records and Van Dean?
LONG: My manager, Leesa Csolak, helped me gain that relationship. A lot of the people Leesa knows and works with are Broadway stars and that’s how she knew the execs at Broadway Records. I love Van he’s the best!
IM: Your publicist told me you also cover a Janis Joplin song; what do you think of her voice?
LONG: Her voice is very unique. I don’t think I will ever be able to sing like her, but she definitely has a very raspy, rock sounding voice.
IM: Tell us about the live track from The Velour (“Secret Love Song”)
LONG: So “Secret Love Song” wasn’t actually supposed to be on the album, but because everyone loved it so much when I sang it live that night, they decided it needed to be added to the album as a live track. I’m a big Little Mix fan and that’s one of my favorite songs of theirs. It also shows people how I sing in a live setting.
IM: Who would you like to do a duet with?
LONG: If I could do a duet with anyone it would probably be either Lindsey Stirling who’s a violinist, or Ann Wilson.
IM: Are there some more covers you’d like to record?
LONG: Yeah I’m actually very excited for the next cover I’m recording. It’s a surprise so I can’t tell you, but it’s a Beatles song.
Check out a couple of live performances below and check out her Web site here.