Pittsfield sixth-grader will sing national anthem for The Spurs USA at Colonial Theatre


PITTSFIELD -- Herberg Mid dle School sixth-grader Olivia Kinne said she has been a performer for as long as she can remember. Her mother, Kim, said Olivia was very vocal from the time she was a baby, and as soon as she could talk, she could sing.

From singing came an interest in acting, which led to school plays and eventually to roles in Berkshire Theatre Group's community productions of "Oliver!" and "The Wizard of Oz."

At The Spurs USA's "A Traditional Country Music Show" Friday night at the Colonial The atre, 12-year-old Olivia will open the concert by singing the national anthem a cappella.

"I'm really loud, which is good for the stage," she said before a rehearsal for a Thanksgiving Eve concert at the First Church on Park Square in Pittsfield. "I've always had a lot of energy and creativity, and I think that helps me with my performing. I definitely see myself doing this later on in life."

Singing with her church chorus or performing in school plays, Olivia is at home on stage, according to her mother.

"She's totally confident when she goes on stage; she rarely gets nervous. She loves it," Kim said.

For many, standing on stage in a theater as steeped in history as the Colonial might be daunting, but for Olivia, stage fright is not a problem. She said the only time she has gotten stage fright was during a performance of a play when half the cast forgot their lines.

And Olivia is no stranger to performing at the Colonial. On Nov. 11, her voice took flight, literally, as she sang "I'm Flying" while dressed as Peter Pan during the Berkshire Theatre Group's gala, "I Own a Theater." With an audience of more than 100 people standing around her on stage, Olivia, attached to a harness, lifted off the ground, belting out the Broadway tune while suspended in mid-air.

When Olivia talks about performing, she smiles broadly and her face lights up. This enthusiasm for her art is infectious to be around, a quality that Dona Frank-Federico, one of The Spurs USA's lead singers, said made Olivia the right choice to perform the anthem at the concert, which is sponsored by The Berkshire Eagle and Berkshire Bank.

"We wanted our show to be about family and apple pie and lots of country. It's a show that is for our veterans and is all about what it means to be an American, and Olivia fits all of that perfectly," said Frank-Federico.

She and her bandmates wanted a young person to sing The Star-Spang led Banner, and who could epitomize the optimistic mood of the show. Frank-Federico said as soon as she heard Olivia's voice, she knew she had found the right girl.

"Berkshire Theatre Group recommended her, and I saw her YouTube clips and heard audio, and I was struck by her really beautiful voice," Frank-Federico said. "She loves it. She wants to do it, and that enthusiasm really sealed the deal for me."

It's a love of music and performing that left Frank-Federico feeling a little bit of deja vu. Her own daughter, also named Olivia, lives in Nashville and performs with a band of her own.

"I can't lie. I love the fact that her name is Olivia, and the national anthem is also the first song that my daughter sang in public, when she was 6 years old," Frank-Federico said.

Performing is something of a family affair for the Kinnes as well. Kim, who teaches dance, said her mother also has a beautiful voice, and she has fond childhood memories of her own mother performing in Town Players productions in Pittsfield.

This summer, the three generations performed together in the cast of "Oliver!" -- grandmother, mother and daughter sang side by side, an experience that both Kim and Olivia said was a special moment for their family.

"It was really neat to see that common thread between us, but I prefer teaching and being behind the scenes," Kim said.

Olivia quickly responded, "You were good, Mom."

They laughed, and Kim asked Olivia why performing in the concert was important for her.

"I'm really looking forward to being able to sing for a really good band and to be singing around Thanksgiving and supporting the USA," Olivia said. "To be singing for such a momentous occasion is just great."


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