Kennedy Holmes

It’s been a year since Kennedy Holmes captured the hearts of America as an eighth grader from John Burroughs School with her fourth-place finish on NBC’s hit singing competition series “The Voice.”

Even though the show was watched by millions and landed her a record deal, she is still shocked by how in-demand she continues to be after her run on the show. She returned to high school at Burroughs, where she is on the volleyball team. But her new normal now includes making time in her schedule for performances at major events and concerts in the region and abroad.

“I’ve been blessed to be performing all around St. Louis because of the opportunity that I had on ‘The Voice,’” said Holmes, who celebrated her 15th birthday last week. “That’s been the really cool part of all of this.”

Next week she will headline A Gospel Christmas, the annual show holiday concert presented by IN UNISON Chorus and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Kevin McBeth. Some of the biggest names in gospel and secular music have been the evening’s featured guest performers. Last year’s headliner was the Grammy winning vocal group Take 6. 

“I was surprised at first. Like, ‘Me? really?’” Holmes said. “But I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity – and I’m going to put on the best show that I possibly can.”

Unlike years past, the show will take place over two nights at Powell Hall on December 18 and December 19.

“I’m excited about singing, but more than anything I want people to get pumped about Christmas,” Holmes said. “[I want] to inspire them to spread positive vibes throughout Christmas time – it’s a time to be happy, be jolly and have fun with your friends and family.”

With “A Gospel Christmas” Holmes will get the audience into the holiday spirit the same way she always does – with music. “I love all of the classics, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,’ ‘Santa Baby,’ all of them,” Holmes said.

Some of the selections for A Gospel Christmas include “Silent Night, Holy Night,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s pop culture holiday classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” The show will be a new experience for Holmes.

“Having a choir and an orchestra behind you is like a big deal for me because I haven’t done it before,” Holmes said. “I’m really looking forward to it because I love choirs and I love orchestras. I know it’s going to be a good learning experience for me because I will be able to hear what that sounds like.”

It’s only been a year, but she feels that the experiences that have been afforded to her because of exposure from the show have allowed her to mature as a performer.

“My stage presence has definitely grown,” Holmes said. “I used to just close my eyes and you would never see them open for the whole song. Now that I’ve gotten used to connecting with the audience, that’s something that I’ve seen change.” She’s also expanded her vocal range and improved her falsetto through the experience of regular stage performances.

Holmes has handled the whirlwind with poise and grace, which can be attributed to her family and support system.

“Just knowing that I’m getting to do these things at such a young age and have all of these experiences is exciting to me and just for people to remember me for good things and doing good things for my community makes me happy,” Holmes said. “I want to have a positive effect on people and show them to never stop believing – and that your age doesn’t matter as long as you put your mind to it and work hard for it.”

With her upcoming performance with IN UNISON and the Symphony, she wants people to remember the reason for the season.

“Making time with family is what’s most important about the holidays,” Holmes said. “Don’t take it for granted. Take advantage of the time you have with family and spread good vibes.”

A Gospel Christmas with SLSO, IN UNISON Chorus and guest soloist Kennedy Holmes will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19 at Powell Symphony Hall, 718 N. Grand. For tickets or more information, visit www.slso.org or call (314) 534-1700.

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