Kayleigh Skomorowski has always raced ahead at full speed.
She’s known locally as a high school teacher, leader of St. Mary’s music ensembles, director of the Prince Albert Concert Band and leader of the music ministry at her church. She’s juggled those tasks with a busy home life, raising two kids and writing and making music on her own time.
Then COVID-19 hit.
Many of her community activities slowed down, or ended completely. Teaching was done remotely, if at all.
Out of that space, and that loss, new music emerged.
“I’ve always been, since childhood, a person that goes a thousand miles a minute,” Skomorowski said in an interview Friday.
“There was a lot of space created in my life. Not that I felt like I had to fill all of that up — I still slowed down a lot and spent time with my kids and husband that I never really could afford to before. But it caused a huge change to my workflow, both with work and my community involvement.”
Wednesday she debuted her new music, and her new album, in front of a sold-out in-person audience and dozens more tuning in online at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.
Her show timed to coincide with the release of her new album, Stay Wild, was the latest show in the Rawlinson Centre’s spring season, Safe and Sound.
Stay Wild is Skomorowksi’s second album. Her first was released a decade ago under the name Kayleigh Smith when Skomorowski was just out of university.
Since then, Skomorowski said, she’s “grown a lot as a person.
“When I wrote and released the last album, I was fresh from university. I wasn’t a parent. I hadn’t even taught yet. My identity itself was shaped very differently,” she explained.
“Looking now where I’m at, with the experiences I’ve had with building a family and moving to the community of Prince Albert and teaching and all of those things that have grown into I am — they have also affected my music and what I write about.”
Some of the music on Stay Wild was written over the past five or six years, but about 60 per cent of the album, she said, was written in the past year.
“I set out to do this for myself,” Skomorowski said.
“To fill my cup in this time when all of the other strategies I normally turn to … were stripped away. Songwriting has always been a thing I use to process changes in my life. It was a way for me to sort through that and find value in that and hope in that. There are a lot of those themes, and hopefully that feeling, prominent on the album.”
Skomorowski plays multiple instruments but writes from the piano. Much of her first album consisted of break-up songs and “all of those sorts of things that you deal with in your early 20s when you’re figuring all of that out.”
What drove this album, she said, was “gratitude” for everything she’s experienced, as well as “a bit of reconciling who I was the last time I sat down to do this with who I am now,” Skomorowski said.
“There are still some connections to my former artist self, but it’s definitely driven from a different place.”
In January, Skomorowski launched a Kickstarter campaign to press between 100 and 200 vinyl records. She needed $2,800. She got $3,345.
Then there was the sellout of the 30 in-person seats to her album release.
The support has continued with album purchases and streams and plays. She’s received good feedback from family, friends and students, but also from strangers.
As she prepared to release Stay Wild to the world, Skomorowski didn’t know what to expect. She hoped that people would find value in her work and that it would resonate with them, but, she said, “you never really know.”
The strong response, she said, has been “super humbling.”
“People I don’t even know are excited about the project,” she said.
“It felt really good to feel some sustained support. It’s surprising and humbling and affirming that I am doing what I should be doing.”
Stay Wild is available on all platforms, including Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Pandora and Deezer, or from Skomorowski herself.
For more information about Skomorowski and her music, visit kskomorowski.com.