An emerging musician’s journey from seeking success to seeking Jesus
Written by Robbie Down
When she was 18, Kylie Berry bumped into Farley Flex and Jake Gold (two judges from Canadian Idol) in an elevator. She was participating in a competition to sing O Canada at a Maple Leafs’ game, her music career just beginning. At the time, her heart was set on performance, rather than writing songs. She didn’t feel she had a story to tell.
“The only way artists make it is by writing their own songs,” the two judges informed Kylie. That elevator conversation was a turning point. Seeing the need for songwriting and collaboration, she moved to Toronto to attend Seneca College’s Independent Music program.
Having grown up attending a small Baptist church in Lindsay, Ont., Kylie was first exposed to the joy of music through her mother, a gospel singer. Given the small-town culture, she entered the country music scene, playing at fairs and festivals around the area. In her early teens, music became more of a serious pursuit. Kylie began commuting to and from Toronto for various performances and recording sessions.
At the age of 15, Kylie was scouted by A&R at Warner Music. Soon after, she got connected to a highly acclaimed vocal coach, Lorraine Lawson, who began to work with her vocal techniques for recording and performance.
When she arrived at Seneca College, Kylie was intimidated by the apparent talent and skill of her fellow students. While melodies and chords always came naturally to her, writing lyrics was too arduous and out of her reach. At Seneca, Kylie did everything in her power to connect with other musicians and set up songwriting sessions, seeking out every opportunity to grow in writing and progress in her dream of making it into pop music.
It was around this time that she hit her breaking point. Kylie was pushing herself so hard to be known and heard. “I only wanted to be a pop singer and star for all the wrong reasons,” she says. With the combined load of self-induced stress to progress and anxiety of failure, she broke under the weight. She found herself in a bare room in a mental health hospital with nothing but a piano.
In a moment of helplessness, with all the weight she had put on herself, all she could do was sing worship songs. Other patients in the hospital came to her door to listen, curious about the uplifting songs they were hearing. Soon after, Kylie was singing for the others around her in the hospital. An older women approached her, telling her that she was being a light to others with her music. “How could I possibly be a light in this moment when I’m dealing with mental health myself?” Kylie thought.
Coming out of the hospital a short time after, she was gripped with a moment of surrender. “Lord,” Kylie prayed, “if pursuing music in this way is not what you designed me for, then take it all away.” She spoke definitively. Less than a week later, she received a phone call from both her agent and manager, both calling to drop her.
Although this was a direct answer to prayer, it certainly wasn’t the solution she desired. The years following this chapter of Kylie’s life were deprived of any music. She had never experienced such an undoing. Singing and playing the piano were too painful.
After a time, the only thing to arise from her when she tried to sit at the piano was worship.
“There was no performance, no expectations, no audience, just me and Jesus,” she says. Time passed, and she got married and began serving at a new home church. All the while, the Lord was beginning to rebuild her life from the inside out. Through counselling, her church family, and a deepening relationship with Jesus, Kylie was becoming restored.
Jesus was recreating the truth of how her gift of music was still to be used. After serving at her new home church for a couple years, Kylie began worship leading again. The idea and purpose of worship was being remade in her life. It was no longer a static or emotional act, but rather a weapon for change, a tool for healing, and a calling back to the heart of Christ.
Through this healing of worship and inner restoration from Christ, Kylie was freed from the anxiety and depression that had been weighing her down for years. New songs began to bubble to the surface. “It was unlike anything I experienced before,” she says. “When collaborating in the past, I was never fully convinced of what I was writing or my voice. Looking in hindsight, of course that was the case because I was fighting against my identity.”
Wanting to make sure that she wasn’t caught up in her own wind, she shared one of her songs with her pastor who responded with floods of reassurance that others needed to hear her songs. In November 2021, she released her EP Restoration. Beneath the surface of the stirring piano and inspiring vocals, Kylie tells her story and how Jesus had completely restored her journey.
“This was the first time that I had released music without an agenda,” she says. “The album release party I hosted at my house evolved into my family and friends all simply worshiping together for the goodness of God. I pray that my music and testimony can speak to others where they’re at.”
Kylie’s album Restoration imparts the joy of new life. You can find her music at kylieofficial.com or on your preferred streaming platform.