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It should not come as any surprise to learn there is a ton of local talent here in Fresno. Throughout the year, I’ll be writing occasional profiles in order to shine a light on local businesses, farmers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, chefs and actors you should know about.
My first artist profile is Fresno native and 2014 Bullard High graduate Katerina (Kat) Aleksenko. I like her story, in large part, because of how many local people have come into her life and offered support; you probably even know some of the supporting cast of this young performer’s life. I believe this is one of the strengths of Fresno and the Central Valley: We enjoy helping out a friend or neighbor, student, budding entrepreneur or artist.
An Artist From the Very Beginning
Kat started writing music in her head as early as she can remember, especially when she was playing on the swings and monkey bars. When she was 7, she wrote down her first song. At 13, her honorary aunt, local author Laura Sidsworth, bought her a guitar, and a friend taught her three chords. That spawned nine songs, which she recorded at a local sound studio. This was the year in which her parents split up, and her music reflected nature, healing, and the good things in life—even if it is sometimes rocky. She was also in Good Company Players Junior Company for two shows, which is an amazing opportunity for young singers, dancers, and performers who want to learn and gain experience in the performing arts.
At 16, Kat’s Aunt Laura signed her up for vocal lessons with Professor Anthony Radford at Fresno State. She’s still taking lessons from him four years later, and she credits him with helping her voice grow both in range and stamina. Local musician and music educator Mike Dana has also been a huge inspiration.
Kat found a lot of creative support at Bullard and was encouraged to take ceramics and choir. She and some fellow students even painted a copy of Michelangelo’s “Creation” for Christmas Tree Lane, although the nudity in the piece generated some amusing controversy.
Another great supporter of local art, John Ostlund’s Jewel FM Gallery, invited students to participate in a show called “How Art Affects the Community.” Kat jumped at the chance to participate.
Taking Her Talent to the People
One evening, Kat was on the patio of Starving Artists Bistro in north Fresno playing her guitar for a friend’s birthday gathering. The restaurant’s owner, Bob Sullivan, who is an incredibly friendly and encouraging guy, persuaded Kat to move from the patio to the stage. She played for four hours and made $73 in tips! Afterward, Bob also helped Kat get onto a television show at CMAC to play her music.
Tower District coffee house Mia Cuppa’s open mic nights also gave Kat a chance to continue to perform. The event organizer, Michael Ault, introduced Kat to local creative genius, Marc Blake, who also organizes a show called City Limits Live at Jewel FM. Marc invited Kat onto the show and put her on with other local musicians, continuing to build her network.
How You Can Enjoy Kat’s Music
This brings us to today. Kat has filmed a video for her song “Sat Chit Ananda” with local videographer and director David Kennedy of Radiator Media, and Keith Seaman let them use his downtown Fresno photography studio as their set. Dance legend Cory Zamora did the choreography while Carollyn DeVore of DeVore Talent & Casting helped cast the local dancers: Samantha Moreno, Brandon Yang, and Anthony Taylor.
Kat told me, “Fresno really supports art and music. There are so many great things happening like Starving Artists, downtown revitalization and ArtHop, Mia Cuppa, and 559 Local Brewery. People are really getting involved, especially people my age.”
Kat’s songs are available on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Shazam, Spotify, Amazon, and Radio Airplay, all of which you can find through her website: www.kattheartist.com.
And if you want to see Kat live, she will be singing, doing live painting, and exhibiting her art work at the Cornerstone Coffee Company for ArtHop on February 2nd. Come out to meet Kat and you’ll also see so many more local artists and musicians that are worth your support, too! What better way to kick off a new year of new music and new experiences in Fresno, right?