By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
RIPLEY – Two young men looking to make their mark in music to a wider audience were introduced to some new supporters at a recent Ripley city board meeting.
Kendel Fisher and Trevor McKenzie have received very positive feedback and words of encouragement after their singing of the National Anthem.
Kendel, a 16-year-old junior at Ripley High School, and Trevor, 14, an eighth-grader at Ripley Middle School, each have been singing in church since early childhood, but they’ve recently turned more of their focus to public performances.
“I started singing in church when I was younger,” Kendel said. “Then I got to the place where I try to go places and sing.”
He has performed in Tupelo at Good Time Charlie’s, at Ripley’s Fourth of July Festival and Spring Fling on the Square in Ripley, and he and Trevor already have started working on music for the next Terry Street Festival.
“We’re cousins and we get together to write songs and sing,” Trevor said. “We just started getting together a couple of months ago.”
Each of the guys are active with singing groups at church, Kendel in the Steadfast Choir for ages 15 and up at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Falkner.
Trevor sings with the Terry Street Male Chorus and some other church groups.
“We travel all over the place, to Southaven, Tupelo, Corinth, all over,” Trevor said. “I went to the Youth Vocal Ministry Camp that is sponsored by Southside Church of Christ in Rogersville, Ala. I sang there and the group I was in won first place. That’s how I show my talent as far as gospel.”
Both Kendel and Trevor also sing rhythm and blues, and Kendel also has done a little rapping and written rap songs.
“As kids are, I would look and see people around me in their cars and things and want to rap,” Kendel said. “I started trying to listen to the words and thought I could do something like that. It’s a lot of hard work but I’m getting there. I did a pep rally rap for the football team.”
In addition to expanding their chances to perform more often and to a wider audience, both Kendel and Trevor have a very clear sense of how they want to develop musically.
“I really want to go to Delta State and be part of the Delta Music Institute and take my music to the next level,” Kendel said. “In high school we have Gear Up Mississippi. I didn’t really know about Delta’s program, but we went there with Gear Up and went to the music studio. The woman who is over it won a Grammy before. They have programs to have people come out and you can showcase your talent.”
The Delta Music Institute Mobile Music Lab, which brings the business of music to local communities, visited Tupelo in April and singer-songwriters from the Institute held a concert performance at The Link Centre.
The Delta Music Institute is an independent center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State that provides students with an in-depth education in the technological, creative and business aspects of the music and entertainment industries.
Kendel thinks he would probably focus his bachelor’s degree studies at Delta State on music performance and production.
Trevor, too, expects to continue refining his music performance experiences as he goes through high school, but his educational goal is to attend the University of Mississippi for post-secondary work.
“We highly believe in those Rebels, and I plan to go to Ole Miss to get my bachelor’s in singing and songwriting,” Trevor said.
Kendel has developed a small studio at his house where the guys spend a lot of their time creating musically, said Trevor’s dad, Ripley Alderman Jackie McKenzie.
Both families – Kendel’s parents Bryan Fisher and Katrina Fisher, and sisters Kasia and Kye, as well as Jackie and Amy McKenzie – back the guys in their goals.
“We very much try to support them in every effort,” Jackie McKenzie said.
Away from music, Trevor likes the outdoors and fishing. He also has played football at school.
Kendel has played basketball and is committed to his involvement at the Ripley Boys amp& Girls Club.
“I just keep trying to come up with new stuff and hope somebody hears it,” Kendel said.
Neither of Trevor’s parents is a singer, so Trevor said he doesn’t know where his vocal talent came from.
“I guess it’s just God’s special gift to me,” Trevor said.