Teen singer Kiley Baxter is not afraid to invite comparisons at Morristown Onstage

Finalist Kiley Baxter at Morristown Onstage 2019 Media Day. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
Finalist Kiley Baxter at Morristown Onstage 2019 Media Day. Photo by Jeff Sovelove.
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We continue our series of profiles of finalists in Morristown Onstage 2019:

By Marion Filler

Some people take a long time to figure out what they want to do in life. That’s definitely not the case with Bridgewater High School freshman Kiley Baxter.

She wants to sing, dance a little, and keep Broadway as an option.

Kiley Baxter. Photo: Morristown Onstage
Kiley Baxter. Photo: Morristown Onstage

Baxter will show off her vocal skills on Feb. 27, 2019, as a finalist in Morristown Onstage.

She has chosen Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, a big song that requires a big voice. No problem.

“My grandma asked me to sing it for her 60th birthday. It’s one of my favorites to do vocally because of how impressive it is,” says Baxter, 14.

When she was 9 years old, her aunt suggested a visit to Annie’s Playhouse at South Street Dance, a performing arts school in Morristown that offers a curriculum of dancing, singing, acting and musical theater.

Morristown Onstage 2019 poster“I loved it and started taking lessons there and at a couple of other places, and really started singing,” says Baxter

Although dancing is not her primary focus, performers need to be well rounded. So she studies classical ballet, tap and jazz, along with voice lessons.

Baxter has started recording covers of other people’s music, putting her own “twist on it.”

“Right now, I have about 30 songs and we are putting the covers on my YouTube channel. We are trying to get a following before we hopefully send it out to a label,” she explains.

Her repertoire includes everything from Christmas carols to popular tunes.

At Morristown Onstage, Baxter will compete against 14 other top amateur finalists from Greater Morristown.

Finalist Kiley Baxter, 14, performs at Media Day for Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Finalist Kiley Baxter, 14, performs at Media Day for Morristown Onstage 2019. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

More than 50 acts auditioned for this 12th edition of the show, which aims to top last year’s record of $143,000 raised for local school programs.

Organized by the Morris Educational Foundation, the competition is open to performers who live, work or study in Morristown, Morris Township or Morris Plains, and to graduates of Morristown High School.

In addition to Whitney Houston, Baxter admires Beyoncé, Rihanna and Carrie Underwood. But she is developing a sound of her own.

“I would rather take all their influences and put it inside me and the way I sing,” she says.

Fifteen top amateur acts from Greater Morristown will compete for cash and glory in the 12th annual Morristown Onstage, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, at the Mayo Performing Arts CenterTickets: $29-$79. Proceeds benefit the Morris Educational Foundation. Call 973-539-8008.

MORE COVERAGE OF MORRISTOWN ONSTAGE 2019

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