While most 14-year-olds go out of their way to blend in, one teen from upstate New York is beginning to stand out in a big way.
His name is Kenny Kakaty, and while he is just 14 years old, his boyish look is the only thing that would let you know his age. With the guitarist skills of a longtime legend, the voice of a grown man, and views of someone who has spent his life traveling, Kenny is well on the way to becoming the artist of his generation — an artist who is reigniting the flame of patriotism back into music.
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Seemingly unfazed by the same thoughts that consume most peers his age, Kenny channels his values of faith, family, and country through his music.
In 2017, Kenny released his first song, “Someday Is Today,” with his band KAKT3, which consists of his brother and sister. The song was made with the help of his parents in an effort to help raise money for the fight against cancer. That song that has since helped raise over $60,000 and has received over a million views on YouTube.
Since then, Kenny’s music career has only continued to blossom. But what has made him truly stand out was his EP, titled “Selfless,” which was made as a tribute to our country’s veterans, teachers, police officers, and all those who put others before themselves.
Following “Selfless,” Kenny released two new songs, one of which is titled “Thousand Times.” The song, which features inspirational artist Anita Faye, continues to promote Kenny’s musical theme around being a stand-up citizen. The song focuses on the homeless population of our nation’s veterans and is one that will undeniably strike a chord with just about anyone.
In lieu of his recent release, we caught up with Kenny to learn a little more about the young man behind the music and what drives him to be such an inspirational artist — an artist who speaks his mind and ultimately sings for his country and those who work to protect it.
What drove you to write “Thousand Times”? How do you hope this song will help veterans in need?
Kenny: I was inspired to write “Thousand Times” by the growing epidemic of mental and drug challenges in general. The epidemic of our men and women going to fight for our nation, only to return to tragic lives of mental illness and homelessness, with little to no help from the same government and citizenry they put their lives on the line for. This is an issue I’m truly passionate about. My goal for this song is to raise awareness for this issue and to be a voice for our veterans in need.
Right now, my family and I volunteer at our local shelter, Code Blue. We can debate better solutions on how to help, but for now, and especially in the frigid upstate New York winters, we need to just help.
How do you hope your music will impact people?
Kenny: I hope to contribute to unifying a deeply divided country through my music. Music is the ultimate unifier; everyone feels some kind of emotion through it. No matter your background, your past, millions of people can hear the same song and all resonate with it in their own particular way. This is what I dream of and hope to do with my music.
Do you get nervous when performing? If not, what helps you remain calm?
Kenny: I occasionally get nervous before performing, especially when I play the national anthem, but I think about all those who died fighting under that same flag so bravely, and this gives me perspective and helps me to remain calm. I only feel a little anxious because I want to show our nation’s anthem the respect it deserves.
What inspires you to write music?
Kenny: I only write about things I am passionate about (of course). It’s all about authenticity for being artistic. For example, “American” was written about my love for the United States, and “Best Part of Me” was written about the importance of a strong family unit.
Speaking of inspiration, what musicians have impacted you the most?
Kenny: So many great people have influenced me throughout my musical journey. However, the musicians that have had the biggest impact on me would be Jon Bon Jovi and John Mayer. John’s music speaks to me, and his guitar playing is out of this world. He is a living legend!
What is your proudest accomplishment both musically and outside of music?
Kenny: I’m very proud of my family for raising over $60,000 to fight cancer through our song “Someday is Today.” That was a great accomplishment for us, both musically and outside of music. Helping others in need is very important to my family.
You have talked about the heroes that are the backbone of our country, such as the men and women in uniform. Do you have any interest in joining the military when you’re older, becoming a police officer, etc.? If so, why?
Kenny: My dream would be to attend West Point, and I would be honored to serve in our armed forces. It would be such a privilege to be a part of the military. I’d major in economics … and music, of course…
At such as young age, many kids don’t really know the meaning of patriotism. What caused you to appreciate it at such as young age?
Kenny: I am blessed to have grown up in a traditional family with grounded beliefs and values. Throughout my childhood, I’ve always heard stories about my great-grandfather and how he came to this country from Syria, and the huge amount of patriotism he had. He wanted to assimilate into our American culture. He said he was American first and the old country second. He risked his life to leave Syria behind as a 16-year-old. My maternal grandparents and mom are also very proud immigrants. I guess that inspired me and gave me perspective and a reminder of how great this country is, no matter your race, gender, economic status, or upbringing.
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Speaking of patriotism, following the Grammys this year, you posted a video stating the awards show was missing “respect for our nation, our flag, and our president.” You added that you don’t need to support something or someone in order to respect it. You followed your comments with your own rendition of the national anthem — a video that went viral, receiving millions of views.
What inspired you to make that Grammy video? Were you surprised by the massive response?
Kenny: I was watching the Grammys a couple of months ago and noticed there was a huge lack of respect and patriotism. While music has always had a rebellious nature and was political in that sense, it just wasn’t so partisan. The rebellion was aimed at the elite or ruling establishment, which I can agree with. I decided to make a video politely calling them out and was overwhelmed with the massive amount of support I received from people all across America who felt the same as I did. Of course, some people took exception and said I shouldn’t even have a voice because I’m only 14 and haven’t lived enough. They are certainly allowed to have their opinion.
For me, it really isn’t political, it’s patriotic. I would happily spread this message on a Rachel Maddow show as much as a Sean Hannity show if either invited me on. I just want to use my music to unify our nation.
While Kenny may be young, he is clearly already catching a spark. The world can’t wait to see what this kid has in store for the future.