The seed is not enough.
It’s the starting point, to be sure, for without it, the growing process can never even begin. But no matter what the pursuit — love, career, changing the world, or changing a community — life needs more than just that seed.
Kolby Koloff knows what else is required and says so in her new single, “Grow” — “And with some sun and with some rain, a little shelter from the pain, with some patience and some time you'll see... it grow and grow” — a simple lyric revealing wisdom beyond her years and foreshadowing the beginning of a promising career as a singer/songwriter.
Music is a path she didn’t realize she wanted to travel. “I never thought about pursuing it as a career, not because I didn't want to, but because I thought I didn't have the capability to do it,” Kolby says. “I was the girl who would skip school because of a class presentation because I hated talking in front of people.”
Reluctance for the public spotlight isn’t an unusual phobia, even when your parents are public figures in their own right. Kolby’s parents — father Nikita, a professional wrestler-turned-pastor and mother Victoria, an author, speaker, and pastor — showed Kolby and her three sisters both the pleasures and the pains of public life early on. “I grew up a pastor's daughter, so we moved around all the time, going from church to church,” Kolby says. “I went to 11 different schools, lived in 12 different houses.”
“Because of that, I feel like I had to grow up a lot quicker, and then my parents got divorced when I was 11, so I saw the good and the bad of church through that. I got a taste of everything.”
That growth was accelerated when the family was featured in Lifetime Television’s original series, “Preacher’s Daughters.” Across two seasons, Kolby’s journey in a family of faith, along with the constant pressures of being a teenager in the 21st century, was put on display. It was during production of the show that the seed for Kolby’s love of music was planted and given the sun, rain, and protection it needed.
“On season two, they asked me to sing at my sister and brother-in-law's vow renewal,” she says. “I said no at first, and then my brother-in-law talked me into it, saying 'Sis, I really think you should. It's a great opportunity.’"
Kolby’s brother-in-law wasn’t just trying to get in good with his wife’s sister. Chad Chapin has been in and around the music business in Nashville for years, in both musician and production capacities, so he knows talent when he sees it and not just when he’s related to it.
“For a couple of months he was trying to convince me: 'I'm not going to lead you down the wrong road, I think you have a great talent and I wouldn't tell you you did if you didn’t,’” Kolby says. “So I just trusted him with it, and he scheduled some writing sessions with some pretty well-known writers and after the very first time, I called my best friend and said, 'that was the best thing I've ever done, I've missed out to this point!' Right then, the music bug bit me. I love it, I love creating.”
From there, Kolby’s growth as a songwriter and artist began to shoot up and bear fruit. Working with producer Drew Ramsey and a litany of accomplished co-writers, she quickly began to find her voice, not only as a performer but as an idea generator as well.
The result is a five-song EP featuring elegant, heartfelt songs designed not only to showcase Kolby’s evolving vocal style — think a dash of Adele mixed with Natalie Merchant and a bit of Edie Brickell — but also to highlight her desire to communicate both faith and familiarity to a generation with so many options, both good and bad, in front of them every day.
“I want them to hear that it's my heart being laid out to them within the songs, and hopefully they can relate to it more that way,” Kolby says. “’Grow’ is song I wrote about people I was around who started getting into drugs and alcohol. I tried for a long time to stick around to try and be an encouragement, but there comes a time when you realize that all you can do is plant a seed in someone’s life and have to walk away for your own sake if they’re bringing you down more than you’re bringing them up."
Merge these with the simple soulfulness of “Heaven Help Me,” the jaunty faith declaration found on “That’s Enough,” and the fresh-as-a-springtime-drive-through-the-countryside affirmation of “I Still Believe,” and we find a young woman who’s already been through a lot in life talking to peers of all ages, and reminding them of the joy and power found in belief.
“I’ve always wanted my music to be real. I want it to be my words,” Kolby notes. “Some of it's going to be more worship-like, sometimes I'm going to want to write about a guy who broke my heart. If somebody listens to it and God uses my experience to encourage them in their life, that would be my goal in sharing.”
Kolby Koloff has found creativity as the source of sun, rain, and shelter in her life. Now it’s time for her to emerge and share that growth with the rest of the world.