Lyrics bubble up from her heart even as her mind wraps around equations the math teacher writes on the board.
Without ignoring the math lesson in front of her, Rylee Thorson finds a scrap of paper and quickly jots down the chorus and chords before inspiration evaporates.
The 12-year-old lives with a song in her heart and with graceful ease she shares the melodies of life with those around.
Rylee writes her own music, pens original lyrics and sings and plays guitar.
In truth, she’s a shy, soft-spoken girl, but when she steps on stage, Rylee shines.
“I’m usually shy in real life, but when I go on stage I just kind of let everything go and feel real confident,” said Rylee, who lives in Ramsey and will be in seventh grade at Anoka Middle School for the Arts this fall.
The singer/songwriter enters county fairs each year, performing songs she’s written and competing for the chance to advance to Minnesota State Fair competition.
Although a fan favorite and considered a strong contender in the 2013 Sherburne County Fair, Rylee didn’t place in the top three.
“I would have placed her first, frankly,” said a man in the audience.
Performing her song, “The Me That I Am,” Rylee sang, “I may not be the prettiest, the tallest or the skinniest but baby, I’m all right. I may not be the smartest, the fastest or the strongest but honey, that’s just fine …”
“It’s a song about being true to yourself, not caring about what other people think, just be yourself,” Rylee said.
And just last month, Rylee performed that same song in the Anoka County Fair talent contest and took first place in the pre-teen division, earning a spot in the Aug. 29 Minnesota State Fair talent contest.
Rylee’s been playing guitar since she was nine years old. She still takes weekly lessons with Angela Bobick at Bobick Music Studios in downtown Anoka.
“She taught me to play guitar. A friend learned how to play guitar from her and I thought I’d like to play, so that’s how I got started,” said Rylee.
As far as song writing, Rylee writes what’s true to her heart, she said, and that truth sometimes surprises her.
“When I write music it always puts things simply, helps me see things clearly,” she said.
“I get an idea in my brain and then somehow that idea grows and gets rooted inside and I can just feel when it’s right when what I want comes from my heart.”
Rylee adores Taylor Swift and was thrilled to meet her three years ago when Swift was at the Xcel Energy Center during her Speak Now tour.
Further encouraging Rylee’s musical passions, the emerging singer/songwriter’s parents surprised her with tickets to Swift’s The Red Tour in Omaha, Neb., next month.
“She is one of my big inspirations and I want to be like her,” Rylee said, declaring her dreams of recording, releasing her own music and performing professionally some day.
In the meantime, Rylee continues to grow and mature as a singer/songwriter, listening to the still, small voice within and following her heart where it leads.
Sue Austreng is at