My Musical Mentor: A Chayce Kennedy Guest Blog

by - November 02, 2023

When I was 12 years old, I met an actor from LA who had starred in multiple films and series that I grew up watching. His name was Roark Critchlow.

I didn't know at that moment that he would soon be a critical part of my musical journey, encouraging me at every step. Now I’m 19 years old, Roark is still by my side as a long-time mentor, co-writer and friend. We still have weekly meetings that turn into inspiring writing sessions.

Let's go back to the beginning…

This all started when I used to be a competitive equestrian rider. I was fortunate enough to have my own pony named Rocko and I competed in show jumping and dressage. I had many, many riding coaches throughout my horsey years, but my last coach was a retired Olympian show jumper. I was at her property multiple times per week getting lessons, and because of this, my family got to know her quite well.

My brother was looking for some summer work and she needed an extra hand around the barn fixing fences, cleaning up, etc. so he started working at the barn. About a month later, my riding coach had another guy helping her pick grapes in her vineyard. My brother crossed paths with him and got to know him a bit. His name was Roark.

Kennedy, left, with Critchlow

Roark had moved from LA back to Canada in Summerland, B.C. to take care of his parents as his mom had been diagnosed with dementia. To keep his days busy, he would be in the vines picking grapes at various properties, and that's what landed him at the barn as he and my riding coach were old friends.

Throughout their weeks of working together, my brother got to know Roark. He was an actor who had been quite successful during his time in LA. He was best-known for his recurring role on the NBC daytime soap opera, Days Of Our Lives. He then got cast in multiple series and films including Pretty Little Liars, Friends, Mr. Deeds and The Layover.

My brother also told Roark about me and my musical interests – how I loved singing, playing piano, writing and performing around town. Roark then mentioned how before acting, he went to school to study music and he loved it as well and played the piano quite frequently.

At this time, I was looking for a piano teacher to help me learn pop songs off the internet that I could play and sing to, and also learn to put cool chords to my own songs, instead of playing from sheet music through a traditional piano teacher.

Fast forward a month and Roark was coming to my place once a week to teach me how to spice up my written songs and covers and help me learn scales and broken chords. This led to us writing together – I would show him my writing and we would tweak it. In these early days, he encouraged me to keep writing as much as I could when I was inspired.

After I wrote my first ‘legit’ song, he insisted we take it to a local recording studio in Kelowna to get it professionally recorded as well as create a music video as he knew a local videographer. He was so excited for me.

Since then, I have written over 150 songs – all shared with Roark and some written with him. With his encouragement, I have been fortunate to add Juno Award-winning producer Ryan Stewart, as well as Grammy-nominated producer Brian West, to my team. To date, I have released six songs in total so far, and my five-song debut EP, Yours Truly, will be shared in 2024. The first single from the EP, “Mr. Super Fine”, is now out on all streaming platforms.

Through all of this, Roark has been right by my side. Every studio visit, every struggle, every plan, every song, he has been there encouraging me to dream my biggest dreams and work hard to make them a reality.

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