Gull Lake singing virtuoso Kylie Buckham headstarts her opera career

Kylie Buckham is a senior at Gull Lake High School who has won numerous accolades and awards for her singing.

Buckham has won the Lindsey Cornelius Memorial Scholarship and Award through the Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus, 6 division one ratings through a combination of District and State Solo Ensemble, various scholarships including WMU’s Vocal Seminar scholarships and Gull Lake Community School’s Fine Arts Scholarship. Now, Buckham plans to pursue her singing career further through college.

“Music has played such a large role in my life, and I would’ve never imagined in a million years I’d be pursuing Opera at Oberlin Music Conservatory next fall,” Buckham said.

Just recently, Buckham was named the number one high school vocalist in the state, which gave her the opportunity to perform at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. There she received a medal and plaque for being the Outstanding Vocal Soloist for the state of Michigan.

“Singing has also given me many opportunities to travel throughout the country,” Buckham said.

Buckham poses with middle School band director Michele Chabitch at WMU Seminar 2018, a high school summer music camp. Photo courtesy of Kylie Buckham

She has sung in Florida for a talent showcase, New Orleans for a choral festival; New York at Carnegie Hall for an honors choral performance; South Africa with the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony and in June 2019, she will be heading to Costa Rica for a choir tour. The music that she sings consists of several genres.

“I sing a variety [of music]. I typically sing classical music including opera arias and other oratorios in different languages (English, Italian, German, French, etc),” Buckham said. “I also sing some musical theater music and then, of course, pop music on the radio.”

Buckham’s interest in music and singing began at a young age and has steadily become an increasingly important part of her life.

“I’ve been singing for quite some time now. I sang a lot as a child, and my mother, and I just thought of it as a hobby until my choir teacher at school in third grade told my mother that I should find a structured choir to be in,” Buckham said. “I then joined the Kalamazoo Children’s Chorus in fourth grade, learning a lot of new things about the voice and singing.”

Buckham said in later middle school year she became serious.

“[I] decided to begin singing lessons in my freshman year of high school. I started singing lots of classical music, which eventually led to an interest in opera,” she said.

However, despite all of her success and experience with singing, Buckham said she still sometimes suffers from stage fright and nerves before her performances.

“[Stage fright] really is something that I hate about singing. I may be singing the easiest song in front of the smallest audience, and I could still freak out,” she said, “However, over the years, I’ve found some ways to control this issue, I try to take deep breaths before going on stage and tell myself that ‘I can do this.’”

Although Buckham does deal with stage fright, it isn’t enough to deter her from singing.

“I can express my emotions and my personality with music” – Kylie Buckham

“[Through singing] I can express my emotions and my personality with music whether that be a slow, tranquil piece or an upbeat, fun piece,” she said. “I also really love performing and being able to move people through song.”

Throughout all of her singing endeavors, Buckham says that her family has always been there to assist her.

“[My parents] always support and encourage me to perform as often as I can and have helped provide me with great instruction from my voice teacher and instructors in KCC,” she said. “They always encourage me even if I’m down about a previous concert or performance and always help get me back on the train again.”

Buckham won the Outstanding Soloist award at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival in 2019. Photo courtesy of Kylie Buckham

Buckham said she plans to continue to seek out a career in music and attain several degrees in the field. Her goal is to become a professional opera singer.

“I hope that 10 years from now I’ll be singing within a professional opera house or with a professional classical ensemble,” she said. “I also hope to be done with my education—bachelor’s and master’s degrees—and to be performing as much as I can.”

[pullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”[In 10 years] I hope to be done with my education…and to be performing as much as I can” – Kylie Buckham[/pullquote]

One day she said she’d like to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House.

“While they only cast the best of the best in their operas, I hope one day I can perform in at least one show there,” she said, “as it is one of the ultimate goals for singers.”

Click here to visit Kylie Buckham’s Instagram and watch videos of her singing.

For more information regarding Gull Lake choir and bands, contact Branden Burris at, call at 269.548.3583 or visit the Gull Lake High School Music website.

Sophia Christensen

Sophia Christensen

I'm a senior at Gull Lake High School and this is my first year on The Reflection staff, so I guess you could call me a newspaper newbie. I joined the newspaper sort of on a whim because I wanted to put the skills I learned in Multimedia and Reporting to work, but I'm here to stay and enjoy the ride. I like to write feature articles because I love the facet of newspaper that is giving people an outlet to speak their minds.

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