Molly Kate Kestner: Austin singing sensation - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Molly Kate Kestner: Austin singing sensation

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AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) -- Austin teenager, Molly Kate Kestner, is gaining international recognition for her original songs on YouTube.

Kestner posted the song "His Daughter" to the video-sharing website on April 20.  As of Thursday, more than 1.5 million viewers have played the video along with her other ballads, including "No One Ever Told You" and "Tonight."

"You never really expect something like that to happen to you, especially when you're from Austin, Minnesota," said Kestner.  "I keep thinking it's all a dream, but then realize it's not."

The 18-year-old Austin High School senior has been playing the violin and singing her whole life.  A participant of AHS' show choir and chorale group, the teen said she began posting her songs on YouTube to share with family and friends.  Last year, she taught herself to play the piano and shortly after, was inspired to write "His Daughter." 

The idea came to her while she was working at her dad's store.  She grabbed a crumpled, old piece of paper and started writing.  "Bursts of inspiration," as she described it, would come to her in class and in the middle of the night, so she used her smartphone to write most of her lyrics and song ideas.

"I'll wake up the next morning and it's horribly spelled and I'll have to try and decipher what I wrote," said Kestner.  Checking Facebook and Twitter has become a bit of a hassle, as her smartphone is slow to update her fan pages because of the overwhelming numbers of visitors. 

"Every time I try and log on now, it takes forever," said Kestner .

Kestner's "His Daughter" tells the story of an absent father, an unexpected pregnancy and a relationship with God.  She said she draws from the experiences of her peers.

"My biggest heart and passion is for people of my generation," said Kestner. 

She said that her song starts out sad, but she used higher notes to inspire and give hope to others.  At the beginning, the song's chorus repeats, "If there's a God out there, please hear my prayer...." and later changes to "There is a God up there, who heard my prayer".

"I don't think there's a person in this world who hasn't been lost or confused and that's why I feel this song can be that beacon of hope," Kestner said.  "Even if you think there's no way to get out of that hole that you're in, there's hope and someday you're going to look back and realize this was all part of a reason and you just need to keep going."

Kestner's Christian upbringing plays out in most of her songs.  She has aspirations of becoming a motivational speaker and youth development counselor.  A profession she planned to explore at the Christ-centered, Pentecostal, North Central University in the fall.  Although, she said she may have to put her plans on hold after receiving requests from across the globe to perform and record professionally.  Her legions of followers on social media have been demanding her songs be recorded for sale.  Kestner said she's been contacted by record labels and wants to record "His Daughter" by the end of the year.

"I just want to be someone that spreads that message of what you let define you does not have to be your circumstances or what you see in the world around you," said Kestner.  "It can be who you want to be, as long as you work hard and are true to yourself."

For now, Kestner said she's most looking forward to attending prom this weekend, graduation and representing Minnesota in the Distinguished Young Women national scholarship program, formerly known as America's Junior Miss program.  As the reigning 2014 "Distinguished Young Woman of Minnesota," Kestner will be competing at the 57th annual program in June. 

As for her cracked, personalized, smartphone, filled with her original song lyrics, she said she plans to eventually auction it off online and donate the proceeds to a charity advocating against human sex-trafficking, another cause close to her heart.

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