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Teen's 2-minute video wins $25k Taco Bell award

Teen's 2-minute video wins $25k Taco Bell award

Paige Aleah Kosinski is taking notes at Belmont University. She’s probably going to play a few, too.
Teen's 2-minute video wins $25k Taco Bell award
Paige Kosinski performs in Rutland, Vermont, in July, opening for Sawyer Fredericks (photo provided).

Paige Aleah Kosinski is taking notes at Belmont University.

She’s probably going to play a few, too.

The 18-year-old from Tribes Hill has started her freshman studies in music business at Belmont, a 6,000-student liberal arts university in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kosinski has already received her first helping hand. Earlier this summer, she won the national grand prize of $25,000 in “Live Más Scholarship” program sponsored by Taco Bell restaurants. Young people were asked to send the company two-minute videos in which they expressed their passions and dreams for the future.

Taco Bell received 6,000 entries and awarded $1 million in scholarships to 220 people, including 13 from New York and one from West Sand Lake. Passions included film, art, ballet, oncology, environmental studies, woodworking and Irish dance.

Kosinski had fun in her video.

“Music Business is my major; I even got accepted to Belmont University; That’s in Nashville, Tennessee,” she sang, then turning her back to the camera and showing off “Belmont University” on a red sweatshirt — and then thrusting both arms triumphantly into the air.

Song instead of speech

Kosinski, who graduated this past June from Fonda-Fultonville High School, has always been passionate about music. She showed some of that passion during Fonda-Fultonville’s commencement ceremony on June 25. As the salutatorian, Kosinski was one of the student speakers; in place of a speech, she wrote a song and performed it on stage.

“I have done music all my life,” Kosinski said. “I’ve played piano since I was really little and I’ve played flute. In school, I sang for a little bit. I don’t necessarily want to be a performer because that just wasn’t my thing. I like to perform but as a career I want to do something else.”

Kosinski has already done OK on stage. She opened for Sawyer Fredericks — the Glen musician who won NBC’s “The Voice” singing competition in 2015 — when Fredericks played the “Friday Night Concert Series” in Rutland, Vermont, on July 29.

“It was amazing,” said Kosinski, in a telephone interview from campus. “The opportunity just came about and it was a crazy day, the day before my graduation party.”

Kosinski was nervous. But the whole scene gave her a taste of playing before large crowds. “I had never really done that before,” she said. “It taught me a lot about who I am as a person.”

Kosinski believes the Montgomery County connection helped her land the gig with Sawyer.

“I don’t know how they really found out about me. I think it might have been through my YouTube videos and also just being from the local community because Sawyer and his family live pretty close to where I live,” Kosinski said.

“We didn’t really know each other before this,” Kosinski added. “I had been to a couple of his concerts, seeing how we lived so close. Once we got to talking, though, we realized that we actually were on the same soccer team as children. We just never knew each other.”

Second try worked

Kosinski originally applied for the Taco Bell scholarship in January, and explained her love for music. She wasn’t crazy about the finished video.

“It wasn’t that great a representation of me and I didn’t make it past the first round,” Kosinski said. “I was disapointed.”

For the competition’s second phase, Taco Bell judges automatically submitted the first submission. Kosinski said she cancelled the first entry and made a new video that featured a lot more Paige.

“I got to my piano and wrote a song trying to explain a little bit about who I am and why I wanted to do the music business, where I’m going to school and what I wanted to do with my degree,” Kosinski said. “I recorded the song, recorded the video, mixed the song in my computer and it ended up getting a really good response.”

She advanced through the competition and eventually, during a video interview with Taco Bell judges, learned she had won the big enchilada.

“It just wasn’t for a specific thing, it was explaining the pursuit of your passion,” Kosinski said. “It could be absolutely anything in the world and there were a lot of creative entries. I honestly never thought I would get that far. The fact that I did, it’s just truly amazing. I feel really blessed for that.”

Settling in

She moved into Belmont on Aug. 19. She’s in a “triple,” college-speak for a large room built for three roommates.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Kosinski said. “Both of my roomies are fantastic people and even though we’re all really different, I feel like we balance each other out and get along great.”

Kosinski has been calling her family a lot. Like other freshmen all over the country, she misses home. But she is also discovering Nashville and the advantages big cities have over small towns.

There’s often live music on campus, and plenty of acts to catch off campus. Last Tuesday, she caught Sawyer Fredericks’ Nashville show.

Kosinski has brought her ukele and keyboard to Belmont. With plenty of open mikes around, she might get a chance to perform her pop-country-rock style.

“When I decide to perform again, I feel like I just want to do whatever I’m feeling at the moment,” Kosinski said. “I don’t want to have to change myself to fit in. I just want to write what I want to write, and hopefully, people will like it.”

She’s found a favorite breakfast place — Pancake Pantry — and appreciates the ice cream bar on campus.

College students traditionally develop late-night appetites. Good thing there’s a Taco Bell not far from campus, and Kosinski will soon be visiting.

“Definitely,” she said.

Lyrics to Kosinski’s winning entry

Here are the lyrics to Paige Kosinski’s musical video sent to the Taco Bell “Live Más Scholarship” competition. The video can be seen on YouTube:

Hey Taco Bell

Here’s a little song about

Little song about who I am

My name is Paige

I’ve never sang on stage but

music is my passion and I

know that it sounds crazy but I’d like to make a wage

doing my own thing

like songwriting or maybe managing a couple artists

’cause that’s where my heart is

A girl can dream

Music Business is my major

I even got accepted to Belmont University

That’s in Nashville, Tennessee

So Hey Taco Bell

Here’s a little song about

little song about who I am

This is my opportunity

to show you what I can truly be

And I knew I had to stop and do it musically

Got my uke in one hand

And my suitcase in the other

’cause I know that there’s no other place that I would rather be

I’ve waited my whole life to get here

Now I see my future so clear

Down on Music Row with my piano

I know that I will make it

So hey Taco Bell

Here’s a little song about

little song about who I am

I’d like to go pursue my dream

’cause I do believe in me

And this scholarship would make my dreams reality

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/wilkin.

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