On Thursday, she’ll depart for Disney World, a long with the “Kidd Kraddick Morning Show” cast, for the annual trip for Kidd’s Kids, the charity that her father founded for terminally and chronically ill children and their families.
Less than two weeks after she gets back, she’ll be part of the lineup for 106.1 KISS-FM’s Jingle Ball 2018, where she’ll perform her recently released single, “This Love.” and be on a bill that also includes Shawn Mendes, Calvin Harris, Alessia Cara, NF, Bebe Rexha, Bazzi, Why Don’t We and Sabrina Carpenter. (The concert will also benefit Kidd’s Kids; $1 of each ticket sold will be donated to the organization. For tickets, go here.)
Sounds like a whirlwind November, but then it’s been a whirlwind year, including making it to Hollywood Week on “American Idol.”
“It has without a doubt been the craziest year of my life, but also the most productive and exciting.,” Kraddick says in an email interview. “It’s absolutely surreal for me. I have been traveling between Los Angeles, Nashville and Dallas working on my original music and am completely embracing my new commuter lifestyle.”
The year also represents a return to focusing on a music career that Kraddick had put on hold for a while. She has been singing as long as she can remember, and studied musical theater at Oklahoma City University. She was in New York City to audition for “The Voice” in the summer of 2013, when she received the news that her father had died unexpectedly at age 53.
After Kidd Kraddick died, Caroline took over as CEO and “Chief Happiness Officer” of the Kraddick Foundation and Kidd’s Kids. Her father founded the chairty because of her: Before she was born in 1990, doctors told Kraddick and his then-wife, Carol, that their baby could be born with a twisted femur, leaving her unable to walk. He prayed that she would be born healthy, striking a deal with God that if she was, he would use his radio show to help other kids.
She was born healthy, and in 1991, he founded Kidd’s Kids, which takes qualifying children and their families on a trip to Disney World each year. The trips were originally limited to children 5 to 12 years old, but a few years after she took over CEO duties, Caroline founded a Kidd’s Kids trip for children age 13 to 18 and their families.
All that led her to put her music career on the back burner. But even though she stepped away from the music career, the music kept following her.
“I’ve been singing since I could talk (probably even before that) and music has always been one of the biggest and most important parts of my life,” she says. “[But].the charity is my legacy and I wanted to honor that and make sure it was taken care of. Without realizing it, music kept creeping into my daily life and I started incorporating it into my work with the charity. I would sing at charity events or do covers on my YouTube channel and while I knew I had a desire to do music full time, I didn’t really know how. “
And then a friend signed her up for “American Idol.” After she auditioned in Dallas, she worked nonstop to figure out what kind of an artist she was and what she wanted to sing “and most importantly, who I was as a person.”
Kidd Kraddick was a huge music fan, and his tastes went far beyond the Top 40 and adult-contemporary music that played on the radio stations that aired his Las Colinas-based show nationwide. Caroline says music was one of her strongest connections to her father. And it worked both ways.
“This year, the thought came to my brain, ‘What if I had been born to an engineer and not a DJ’,” she says. “I owe my passion for music to my father. When I was 4 years old, I would beg my parents to put on ‘The Stevies,’ aka Stevie Nicks or Stevie Wonder, and I’d perform for them in the kitchen.
“My dad and mom really developed my diverse taste in music and as I got older, I helped my dad figure out what was ‘cool’,”. she continues. “He did a bit on the radio called ‘Music That Makes You Cooler’ and I would listen on my way to high school and roll my eyes because I knew every single band was a band I had told him about.”
Caroline made it to Hollywood Week on “Idol,” but that was as far as she got, and she was never got a feature on the ABC series the way some other singers did. But “Idol” inspired her to keep going. She contact Ryan Cabrera, a successful Dallas-born singer-songwriter her dad had supported, as he often supported locally based or raised acts. She co-wrote “This Love” with Cabrera and writer-producer Jamie Hartman.
“It’s a beautiful song and I feel blessed that Ryan trusted me to be the artist to sing it,” she says. “My dad was a mentor to a lot of young artists, including Ryan, so he’s always been in my life. But after my dad passed, we became closer and now I consider Ryan to be one of my best friends.”
“This Love” is also a testament to how a song that starts off meaning one thing can fit someone else’s circumstances and come to mean other things as well.
“ ‘This Love’ is a song he wrote 8 years ago about a relationship with a European woman and his experience with that relationship. Ryan is not only a dear friend but he’s become a bit of a therapist and knew what I was experiencing in my love life mirrored that song. He let me listen to it in the studio and I only needed one listen before I got in the booth. It was that catchy. Everyone in the room kept saying, ‘This song is a hit.’ “
Kraddick says that a full-length album is in the future, but right now, she’s working on an EP, a shorter format that she says is the perfect way to introduce her independent music to a new audience (although her social-media followers are saying they’re ready for the full-length album).
Even though she had put her music career on hold, Kraddick kept putting music out there, with “Covers With Caroline,” a series of videos on her YouTube channel in which she covered artists ranging from Prince/Sinead O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U”) to Arlington-bred country star Maren Morris (“Once”) to R&B star Rihanna (“Love on the Brain”) and more.
“Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing,” she says. “I grew up listening to everything from Garth Brooks to Ben Folds to Etta James so to say my musical taste is eclectic is an understatement. I just sang songs that spoke to me and that I loved singing. My most popular covers have been ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ by Chris Stapleton and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ by Sinead O’Connor. The biggest thing I noticed about my song choices was how incredibly soulful the songs were, and that’s really what I love to sing.”
The renewed focus on the music career does not mean a diminished focus on Kidd’s Kids. She’ll work to find a career balance, which can mean more than just finding the right amount of time to devote to each,
“It can be challenging at times because my music and Kidd’s Kids are both incredibly emotional jobs,” she says. “I feel every bit of emotion that goes into my music and of course, you can’t interact with the incredible children that I get to meet through the charity and not be affected by them.
“I always say neither of my jobs is “hard work” but they’re both ‘heart work.’ The good news for me is that every singing gig that I take, no matter where it is and who is there, is a new way for me to spread awareness for the charity. You won’t see me perform without talking about Kidd’s Kids and the fact that I get to use my singing voice to impact others and share the Kidd’s Kids mission is not lost on me. I am so grateful for that opportunity and for the crazy, beautiful journey I am on.”
For more on Caroline Kraddick, visit http://carolinekraddick.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Her single “This Love” is available on iTunes, and proceeds through year-end will benefit Kidd’s Kids.