Ms. Keyna Darling
Class of 1974
Career Pathway: Arts & Communication
Keyna Darling moved to the Grayling area at the age of 12 with her parents and five siblings. She said she always had an inner drive for singing, dancing and writing poetry. Her favorite class in high school was Creative Writing with Michael Delp. She was proud to represent her school as a Viking cheerleader for three years and sang her first original song at a talent competition while attending cheerleading camp in Indiana.
After graduation, Keyna married and had two wonderful daughters who went along with her to sing to lonely people in nursing homes. At that time, people began taking notice of her singing, and later she formed a band called Southbound 75, which had a large following in Northern Michigan, and sang in the surrounding area for 32 years.
In October 2005, Ms. Darling quit the band when she was told by security people to prepare herself to perform an original song she had written -- with her oldest daughter who was serving in the U.S. Air Force during 9/11 in mind -- for a political rally in Grand Rapids at the DeVos Center. She performed her song "Stand Up, America" in front of the President of the United States and 21,000 listeners.
Ms. Darling has opened for and performed with Mark Farner, lead singer of the famous band, Grand Funk Railroad. Farner sang a song on her debut album, Loving You. In 2006, she won the Breakthrough Country Artist of the Year award in Hollywood, California. She is now working with a movie producer in California for an upcoming Pixar film for which she has written and will be singing songs for one of the main characters.
She said the achievement that makes her the proudest in her life is being a mother and having her daughters share in her accomplishments as she shares in theirs. Her older daughter, Alana Kerekes, is a paramedic in Dover, Delaware, and her younger daughter, DeVette Kerekes, has been attending a community college to pursue her dream of working with animals.
It is Ms. Darling's belief that dreams are only dreams if left on the shelf of wishing while putting your dreams into action makes them come true.