Nov 05, 2015 12:14PM
● By Dia
Bounding into the little chapel on the grounds of White’s Chapel United Methodist Church (UMC), an iced coffee in hand, Cammie Avers exudes happiness. She’s stylish in a long-sleeve, blue tunic dress and gray suede ankle boots. “Everything I’m wearing is from Altar’d State. They styled me for the photo shoot today,” she beams.
Avers is talkative, upbeat and in disbelief at all the attention she’s getting. “I’m humbled that anything I could offer the world would be worth writing about,” she gushes, taking a seat at the piano in the corner of the chapel.
A Southlake native and Carroll grad, Avers is part of the Christian pop duo, Kaleidoscope, along with her best friend, Natalie Brown. The duo has traveled all over the world, including stops right here in Avers’ hometown. Kaleidoscope performed at Oktoberfest last month before jetting to the United Kingdom to lead worship at a youth conference.
In the spring, Kaleidoscope will perform at the much-anticipated Girls of Grace Tour, a nationwide event founded in 2002 by Christian-music sensation, Point of Grace. The tour is geared toward teen girls and their moms, and includes live performances and worship from some of the industry’s biggest artists.
“I am so excited about the tour,” Avers says. “To share the stage with Point of Grace and to travel around the country telling thousands of girls that God has an amazing plan for them is a dream come true.”
We visited with Avers to find out what life is like as part of an up-and-coming musical duo, how she got her start and what’s next for the Southlake songstress.
Getting Her Start
Like a happy songbird, Avers has long been chirping. Her parents say she’s been singing since before she could talk. Her musical career began with yodeling in cowboy boots and belting out old-time country songs at opries all over Texas.
Avers traveled with the Texas Girls’ Choir, performed in show choir at Carroll and helped lead worship at White’s Chapel UMC. “It was a bunch of little performances here and there that ultimately led me to want to do music for the rest of my life,” she says.
After graduating from Carroll in 2007, Avers headed to Nashville to attend Belmont University, the largest Christian university in Tennessee. The school boasts a number of famous musical alumni including Steven Curtis Chapman, Brad Paisley and Trisha Yearwood.
Belmont is where she met Brown, the other half of Kaleidoscope. The two roommates became fast friends, writing songs together and chatting about their aspirations of reaching people through music.
“It wasn’t until after college that we realized our dreams were so similar that it would make no sense to pursue the same thing apart from each other,” says Avers. “Who wouldn’t want to work with their best friend? We love doing music and ministry as a team.
One of the first songs Avers and Brown wrote together is called “Kaleidoscope.” A lyric from the chorus goes like this: “like a kaleidoscope set in motion, He’s making beauty out of the broken.” When Avers’ younger sister, Quinn, suggested Kaleidoscope as a potential band name, it stuck.
“That lyric is exactly the message we want to convey – that God is able to make beautiful things out of our broken mess,” Avers says. “We love the idea of all these little pieces coming together to make a picture that is bigger and more beautiful than we can imagine on our own.”
The duo admires artists such as Natalie Grant, Britt Nicole, Bethel and Hillsong Worship. “And, let’s be real, we’re also huge Taylor Swift fans,” Avers laughs.
She also counts CeCe Winans, the 10-time Grammy Award-winning gospel singer who has sold more than 12 million records worldwide, among her greatest inspirations. But Avers doesn’t just listen to Winans’ music from afar; she is personal friends with the singer. Winans and her husband even served as pastors at Avers’ wedding.
“CeCe has been a huge influence on me as a person and an artist,” Avers says. “She is a woman of integrity who puts her family first and has really taken me under her wing in so many ways.”
Music With a Message
Kaleidoscope released three of their songs as singles last year and another single earlier in 2015 before releasing their self-titled debut EP in September. The seven melodies are catchy and singable, similar to what you’d hear if you tuned in to a Christian contemporary music station.
Avers’ favorite song to perform is Kaleidoscope’s “Walk Beside You.” She and Brown wrote the song about their siblings who have suffered with anxiety and depression.
“Sometimes, writing a song is a long process and we would get hung up on finding words that rhyme and perfecting the melody,” says Avers. “This song took us about an hour to write because we felt like it was coming straight from our hearts into a song.”
For Avers, that’s what it’s all about: using music to speak to people. And the people are listening. The duo has garnered thousands of fans, called “Team Kaleidoscope,” and it outfits those fans in branded merchandise such as t-shirts and headbands available at KaleidoscopeDuo.com.
Avers’ dream of reaching people through song has become a reality. Kaleidoscope travels all over the world for ministry and music, allowing Avers to connect with people on a global stage.
“One of the coolest things about traveling is that we get to meet so many different people and hear their stories and struggles,” she says. “I love interacting with people and hearing how in some small way our music has impacted them.
With the Girls of Grace Tour on the horizon in 2016 and several other shows on the books, Kaleidoscope has plenty of opportunity to connect with others. This means a busy schedule, but that’s okay with Avers. She embraces life on the road. She’s even learned to enjoy living out of a suitcase. “I feel like I can put together an outfit much quicker,” she laughs.
Knowing What’s Important
Avers is no stranger to travel, though she hasn’t always journeyed for music. She’s been on 11 mission trips with White’s Chapel UMC, visiting poverty-ridden locales in Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Botswana, Africa, the United Kingdom and even here in the United States.
Each experience has been different. When you go on a mission trip to help those who need it the most, you don’t leave the same person, she says. Though the people she encountered faced intense poverty, one thing stood out to her: They were still joyous.
“Money isn’t everything. God is, and these trips have taught me that,” Avers says.
Wherever her travels take her, Avers stays true to her Dragon roots. She attended Carroll ISD from first grade at Durham Elementary all the way to her graduation. She was class president, Homecoming princess, a part of Emerald Belles as a freshman, and she was also involved in show choir, theater, Spanish club and key club.
“I don’t know how to not be busy, and I think that started in high school,” she says. “I love being a Dragon and I’m proud to protect the tradition wherever I go.”
Avers married her high school sweetheart, Steven, who was a catcher for Carroll Baseball. The two met in gifted-and-talented English class their sophomore year. After graduation, Avers pursued music while Steven pursued a medical career. He’s now a doctor at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, the city in which the couple resides.
Though she enjoys hiking, going to the beach and exploring different parts of California with her husband, there are pieces of Southlake that Avers misses. For starters, she says there’s nothing like the city’s small-town feel and welcoming culture. And, surprisingly, she also misses the Texas weather. It doesn’t feel like summer in California because it doesn’t get hot enough, she says.
Returning, if even for a few days, for a hometown performance makes Avers smile. “I’m always proud to bring Natalie to my local shows because they are always the best,” says Avers. “She makes fun of my Texas pride, but who can blame me? Texans are the best.”
As we visit at White’s Chapel UMC, the place where Avers composed many songs and where she worked as a worship leader for nearly three years, she feels grateful that she gets to do her favorite thing on earth.
With her songs, Avers says that, more than anything, she wants to express that “God loves us and is for us, and He has a plan for our lives that is bigger and brighter than we ever could have imagined.”
How sweet it is to be living the message behind the melodies. SS