The CROSSROADS/Total Praise group from Hays has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall as part of Distinguished Concerts International New York’s (DCINY) “Appalachian Winter: A Bluegrass Christmas.”
Joseph Martin, composer, has produced an original score for the event, which he will also conduct at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27.
Caitlin Leiker, 14, a freshman at Hays High School, will be one of the youngest performers in the production.
Melody Barton, the Leiker’s next door neighbor, is a member of CROSSROADS/Total Praise and has worked with Martin before. She contacted Martin about Caitlin, and he suggested Total Praise bring Leiker along to perform in New York. Five people from the group, including Caitlin will perform at Carnegie Hall. They are Barton, Hannah Barrett, Lee Fisher and Lynn Fisher.
“I knew that she has been in Honor Choirs, the Ad Astra Festival Choir, competed in District and State Competitions, getting high ratings, and participating in community and school musical productions,” Barton said of Leiker. “I knew that she had a lovely voice and was able to read music very well!”
Jodie Leiker, Caitlin’s mother, said the trip should be a good experience as Caitlin will be exposed to more mature voices through the show.
Leiker has been singing since she could talk. She also plays piano. She won the Hays Middle School talent competition two years running.
She performed this summer in “Mary Poppins” with the Hays Community Theatre and at the Ad Astra Music Festival in Russell. She is a citizen in the HHS’s upcoming performance of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” She taught herself to juggle for the festival scene of the musical.
Leiker loves to sing and perform. She said her favorite part of performing is seeing the end product.
“The hard work is tough going into to it, but the final product when it just all pays off … You put in all this hard work, and just to see the polished product at the end of it … It just feels so good to perform,” she said.
She said she is nervous, but “It is a really good nervous. I am really excited to go.”
She has ambition to try out for the Hays High Chamber Singers next year. However, her ultimate dreams for her music are humble.
“Everybody dreams of making it big with the things that they love, but if I can find one person and be an inspiration to them — one person younger than me saying when I get older I want to be like them,” she said. “I am meeting all kinds of people just in the high school musical that I am looking up to — just amazing people with amazing talents. They have been there for me as friends. I want to be that friend, just somebody who is looked up to and inspires somebody to be better.”
Leiker also has an interest in visual arts and hopes to study graphic design while in high school. She could image herself as an art director for a magazine or movies.
The Leiker family plans to head to New York about a week in advance of the concert. Caitlin has never been to the city. They plan to see “Anastasia” on Broadway because Caitlin was in a past production of “Anastasia.” They also plan to go skating a Rockefeller Center, see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, see the Rockettes and go on a Christmas lights tour.