Someone should name an energy drink after Murphy McDermott. The 14-year-old spends her days studying, singing and taking care of her pets, all 19 of them. Her hard work is paying off as she will perform at Carnegie Hall this month.
"It doesn't seem like a real thing yet," she said while taking a rare break from art class. She has no study halls.
The Mount St. Mary Academy freshman has been singing for half her life and has won several competitions. Her voice coach, Wendy Williams, entered her into a Crescendo International singing competition, sending in a video of McDermott singing Handel's "Bel Piarece," which she will sing in New York. Crescendo holds competitions annually throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Representatives from theater groups and performing arts schools attend the performances to see the talent, and hand out scholarships and job offers to those they see who have talent and potential.
"I was always singing around the house. I always loved music. My dad was into music when he was younger, so I think I got those genes," McDermott said. "I started voice lessons when I was around 7 and I did my first show when I was around 7 or 8. It kind of blossomed from there."
She competes in Erie County Music Educators Association's All County chorus, and the New York State School Music Association. She has received perfect scores at her 2016 All County (Niagara) audition and her 2017 NYSSMA level 4 solo.
But she's more than a voice. She also works with Curtain Up Productions and the Batavia Players. She whips out a resume showing over two dozen plays, everything from "A Christmas Carol" to "Wizard of Oz."
"I love theater," she said, her face lighting up. "I love how you can become a different character. When you are on stage, you're not you anymore. You can become pretty much anybody you want to be. That's the fun part. You're not limited to just one personality, one characteristic. You can pretty much be anyone, anything, anywhere, anytime."
Despite her credits and obvious talents, she is aware of the difficulties of a career in the entertainment industry.
"I wish it could be my life, but once again, it's hard to get into professions like that," she said. "It takes a lot and lot of time and a lot of work, which I'm willing to give. But I'm only in high school, so I'll worry about that later."
She definitely puts in the time and work. She lives in Appleton, a hamlet in the town of Newfane. Her day consists of waking up, feeding the animals, eating on the way to school, school, then voice, play practice, gymnastics, going home, doing homework, eating dinner, cleaning the horse stalls, then going to bed. She makes good use of her time, using the hour trip to Batavia for her voice lessons to warm up in the car. Luckily, her mother works close to MSM, so getting to school on time is never a problem.
"I have a lot of energy. I have to. I am doing something every minute of the day," she said.
Even her trip to New York City was a whirlwind. She and her mother drove in Jan. 26, then left the next day right after her performance.
"She's a wonderful student. She always knows her parts," said Tim Wells, vocal music teacher at MSM. He was blown away when the very petite soprano auditioned for the Gemtones, the schools vocal ensemble, with an a capella rendition of "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera.
"She's less than five feet tall. She's a peanut. She weighs 15 pounds or something," Wells recalled. "She wowed me. After the first two measures I said, 'OK, I'm going to put you in the group, but I'm just going to listen right now.' The voice that comes out of her does not match her physical body. It's so much bigger."