Kenny Loggins inspires young singers with helpful coaching
Kenny Loggins challenged “American Idol” contestant Sofia Schuster to try something different in a concert.
In this case, it was more about walking than singing.
Mr. Loggins explained he wanted Sofia, who was a San Marcos High School sophomore when she appeared last winter on ABC’s “American Idol,” to approach a “Footloose” song as a “strutting rock chick.”
“She had never done anything like that,” Mr. Loggins told the News-Press recently. “I showed her how to walk from one side of the stage to another.”
The acclaimed Montecito rocker’s advice came last year during The Adderley School for the Performing Arts’ production saluting the 35th anniversary of “Footloose,” the musical movie that immortalized Mr. Loggins’ rendition of the song of the same name. The Marjorie Luke Theatre concert, which featured young singers under Mr. Loggins’ mentorship, raised money for the Unity Shoppe and The Santa Barbara Youth Ensemble Theatre Scholarship Fund.
Mr. Loggins has provided a lot of mentorship to Sofia Schuster, Lauren Cantin and other talented youths who have sung at concerts to help local causes such as the previously mentioned Unity Shoppe and aid to people affected by the Montecito debris flow. (Lauren is a debris flow survivor.)
One such performance was Teens Sing for Santa Barbara, a 2018 concert that was presented in partnership with the Unity Shoppe. It raised $65,000 for the people affected by the Montecito debris flow.
“Some of those kids will be singing with me on (this month’s) Unity Telethon, only virtually,” Mr. Loggins said, referring to modifications because of the pandemic. (The telethon is set for 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 12 on KEYT-TV, Channel 3.)
Earlier this year, Sofia told the News-Press that Mr. Loggins has mentored her since her early teens. After his coaching, she won Teen Star Santa Barbara last year and appeared last winter on “American Idol,” where judge Lionel Richie gave her an A-plus for her songwriting. (Another “American Idol” judge, Montecito singer and Dos Pueblos High School alum Katy Perry, told Sofia she reminded her of herself at age 15.)
Sofia has sung with other youths and Mr. Loggins online during programs such as this year’s local Earth Day Festival, which, like other concerts during the pandemic, became virtual.
“He’s been such an incredible mentor,” Sofia said about Mr. Loggins. “He’s given me such great opportunities to perform with him.
“He’s also taught me a lot about singing and songwriting, and he’s always there if I need a little bit of help,” she said. “ ‘Kenny, I need help with this melody or with this chord progression. Can I get your advice?’ He’s always there to give me the advice.
“Kenny has taught me a lot about the structure of songs and just being able to write a song right off the bat,” she said.
Sofia expressed gratitude for Mr. Loggins’ influence on her music.
“I think just having that person I can turn to has had a really big impact on my life these past few years,” Sofia said.
Kerri Murray, Sofia’s mother, talked to the News-Press about how Mr. Loggins, the Santa Barbara-based Adderley School, Girls Rock Santa Barbara and others have helped Sofia. “She’s been part of a community that hasn’t pushed her to be perfect. It has pushed her to be brave. She’s been really brave in her creative choices and music choices.”
Sofia’s mentor, Mr. Loggins, explained how he helped Sofia prepare for the “Footloose” concert.
“It’s hard to define,” he told the News-Press recently. “It was everything from talking about technique and phrasing to how long to hold a note to how to portray her character in particular when we did the ‘Footloose’ music.”
As Mr. Loggins thought about characterization, he encouraged Sofia to strut across the stage.
The father of five children, Mr. Loggins said he enjoys working with young people.
“My daughter Hana, who’s my youngest and is a singer-songwriter, has taught me how to talk to young people,” Mr. Loggins said.
He explained he learned from observing Hana about how to coach singers and offer suggestions in ways that are encouraging instead of discouraging.
“I’ve had to learn how to present ideas in the most positive ways to help them preserve their self-confidence.”