Speaking with Kyle Miranda, a Savannah-based songwriter and illustrator, she is so poised, bright and savvy that one forgets she is just 17 years old.
And this native of Woodstock, Ga., is working to add an ambitious feat to her roster of precocious accomplishments - a professional recording of her album "Secondhand Diamonds."
Of her musical style, Miranda quips she's among the "unique little butterflies, chicks who play guitar - except I don't play guitar."
Principally a vocalist, she enlists the help of local instrumentalists to craft her songs.
"I have the benefit of a full band, just because I don't know how to play," she says.
Her most consistent accompanist is her brother, Mark Wilson, an aspiring pop musician in his own right. He's also founder of Sunhouse Entertainment, a media production and management company for music, film and video.
In fact it was Wilson, four years her senior, who first discovered and encouraged her talents as a songwriter. She returned the favor, in a way, by sharing her plans to attend SCAD, which she had visited in the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school.
The siblings are now simultaneously working their way through degrees - she in illustration, he in film and television - and are slated to graduate on the same day in a few years.
They were raised in rich artistic milieus. Wilson was a member of the prestigious Atlanta Boy Choir, through which he toured around Greece, Rome, Russia and Vienna. Miranda danced intensive ballet for seven years. She was homeschooled until the age of 10, then attended a large public high school in Ohio before returning to the Southeast, enrolling at SCAD a few years earlier than her freshmen cohorts.
Ministry of music
Miranda notes that her varied background, encouraged throughout her education in visual arts, theater and writing workshops, helped build her creative vocabulary.
Her Christian faith also deeply informs her approach to and practice of music.
When not engaged in classwork or writing new tunes, Miranda works at Windsor Forest Baptist Church. Her brother is a minister of music and she sings with him.
"I've been in the church since I was born," Miranda said.
She describes her congregation as "eager to represent Christ in a positive way."
"I would say faith is the most important part of my life," she said. "I've lived in the Bible Belt since I was born, and music seems a more effective way to communicate than handing out tracts and reciting scripture."
When Miranda first started writing music, at the age of 7, she imitated contemporary Christian rock. She said her music truly developed as a sophomore in high school, when she began blending different genres and inspirations.
She describes her style as "snazzy jazzy indie rock," mixing folk music, beach rock, oldies, swing, alternative, punk and jazz.
"I think all art is interconnected," she said. "Because I'm a visual person, when I listen to music, I can see it in some capacity."
"When I write lyrics, I like to tell a story. I also illustrate songs and stories."
So far, Miranda has made a digital painting of Ed Sheeran's song, "The A Team," and is working toward illustrating the Killers' song "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" and a 12-piece project based on the Decembrists' album, "Hazard of Love."
Bright young things
Her primary goal is to record her album at Shape Studios in Atlanta this year. Sound engineer Jordan Nalley, who was a schoolmate of Miranda's brother, runs the enterprise. He began recording artists professionally immediately after graduating from high school.
"It's not fair how good he is," Miranda jokes.
Although she's "getting a bit of a discount," it will still cost $3,000 to produce her full-length album.
Kyle Miranda has established a KickStarter page to help fund the venture.
"Secondhand Diamonds" is currently a staff pick on the Savannah page. The album's name is pulled from a Mark Twain maxim: "It is better to have second-hand diamonds than none at all."
Miranda said the writer and his uncanny ability to "rephrase common things in a way that sounds new and brilliant" inspire her - a suitable aspiration for a budding young musician, indeed.
To help Kyle Miranda record her album, contribute at her Kickstarter page at http://kck.st/12SYJNi. You have until midnight Aug. 10.