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Declan’s had a fan club since she was a toddler.
Videos that her mom would share of the tot singing captivated family and friends, and revealed true vocal prowess. Now a teen, Declan’s making a name for herself on the Idaho music scene, and her fan club is expanding—even internationally.
She’s certainly put in work to get where she is today. Declan started singing lessons at age 4 and played bass and sang in a band at Boise Rock School as a pre-teen. There she performed in front of small audiences, which helped improve her skills on several fronts.
“It [Boise Rock School] was a great environment,” says Declan. “We practiced a ton, and I learned to perform live, work with other kids, and figure out songs in a short amount of time.” Declan then worked independently with a Boise Rock School instructor, Jeff Cochran, who helped Declan learn to write and record songs, and they uploaded her work to SoundCloud.
“For my first song, I actually wrote about not knowing what to write a song about,” laughs Declan. “I had no idea how to do it.” (Listen to that first song, Pools of Karma, here.)
Her sound attracted the attention of U.K. artist Rory Pilgrim, who was creating a film in Idaho with 10 local youth climate activists. Declan was invited to help develop and sing on the soundtrack. In the film, called The Undercurrent, the Idaho activists explore the effects of climate change on their families, religions, friendships, and notions of home.
“Rory filmed here in Boise, so we worked together to write songs for a few months,” said Declan. “It [the score] starts off serene and beautiful and then gets chaotic—to show that because we’re treating the world so poorly, it can’t sustain itself anymore. It’s a metaphor for how people don’t seem to care and won’t do anything to help.”
Declan was set to perform her songs live along with film screenings at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Badischer-Kunstverein art association in Karlsuhe, Germany, in 2020, but COVID prevented her from traveling. Instead, more recently, she performed for the Karlsuhe audience via Zoom. An orchestral quartet also accompanied a recorded video of Declan singing the Undercurrent pieces in Berlin in late 2020. In the summer of 2020, Undercurrent also traveled to Marseilles, France, Stockholm, Sweden, Glasgow, Scotland, and to the Chennai Biennial in India.
These days, Declan is experimenting with rap, building her vinyl collection, and—always—singing along with her (current) favorite artists: Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Tom Petty, and indie artist Mitski.
“What I love about music is that it’s a way for people to express themselves,” says Declan. “With every song you listen to, whether it’s satirical or emotional, there’s always a story behind it. It’s a great way to learn things about people and the world—all in a very nice sounding package.”
Declan envisions music as part of her career and has found that her pursuit of it has helped her make connections with mentors and like-minded friends. “It’s also helped me with my confidence and made me realize that that is something I can actually do!” she adds.
As for advice she’d give to peers in search of a passion, Declan shares, “It can be difficult to find something you really love to do—so if you find something, just get started. There will always be something good that comes from it, even if it’s just that you enjoy your time while you’re doing it.”
Boise Rock School is a nonprofit organization that offers after-school and summer music education programs. If your child is interested in music, find out about lessons and bands at www.boiserockschool.com.