Self-taught singer follows her dream

Courtesy Antonella Stelluto

UM sophomore Kailey Billings proves that it’s not necessary to be a tennis pro to hit the Sony Ericsson Open. Billings’ talent, which does not exactly include a racquet and tennis ball, has put her on the stage for two consecutive years.

“Last year… my sorority sister…  had an internship with the Sony Ericsson Open. I didn’t even know she knew I was a musician, but she gave my information to the booking and entertainment people,” she said. “I randomly got a message from them asking me to perform, and it was an awesome surprise and honor.”

Born and raised in Orlando, Billings is a UM student majoring in biology and is on the pre-med track. She defines music not as her hobby, but as her one and only passion.

“I decided not to study music because I wanted to have a backup plan in case my music career never happens,” Billings said. “I wanted a degree that I could use to make a living.”

Billings’ talent, vocal sounds and style, which is pop with some soul, folk and rock influences, are little by little opening the doors of success within the music field.

“I have heard Kailey perform at two different programs this year and she never ceases to amaze me,” junior Melanie Di Pietro said.

But Billings’ talent goes beyond singing. Her musical skills range from songwriting to playing the guitar and piano, instruments she has played for the past six years.

“She is a great songwriter and musician with an awesome control of the stage- a very natural performer,” junior Natasha Broad said.

Role models such as Jason Mraz and Jewel, as well as some other alternative musicians, have deeply influenced Billings as a singer, but it was No Doubt’s album “Tragic Kingdom” that truly inspired her to pursue a music career.

“The music and Gwen Stefani’s presence totally blew my mind,” Billings said. “I had been singing for a while already but around that time, I decided that I wanted to be the front woman of a band one day.”

This self-taught artist has found a way to incorporate music into her education, fitting in at least one music elective course into her schedule each semester.

“The only ‘training’ I am in now is a vocal techniques for non-majors class that I’m taking just for fun,” Billings said. “It’s great that I can fit that in along with major requirements like organic chemistry.”

Among her future plans, Billings has made the firm decision to go after her music career. Once she graduates from college, Billings plans to spend a year in Los Angeles or Nashville and really go for it. Her ultimate goal is to be signed in five years, release an album and tour  the United States and Europe.

Antonella Stelluto may be contacted at


If you want to follow Kailey Billings go

Some of her most popular songs are “Dangerous Things,” “I’d Rather Be With You,” “Not What I Need” and “Forget That I Love You.”