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‘Idol’ experience helps Kiara Lanier realize her dream

KiarLanier. Phoby Jake Krzeczowski

Kiara Lanier. Photo by Jake Krzeczowski

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KIARA LANIER

♦ 7 p.m. Friday, SPACE, 1245 Chicago, Evanston; all ages, $15

♦ 8 p.m. Saturday, Reggie’s Rock Club, 2105 S. State; 21 and over, $5

The album may not be her own but the title’s sentiment certainly resonates with Chatham native Kiara Lanier.

As a contestant on “American Idol,” Lanier spent her days at the edge of a dream before being eliminated recently in the semifinals.

“It’s ultimately benefitted me by just growing my confidence, pushing me to go to the next level,” said Lanier, 22, who plays Reggie’s Rock Club as part of a release event Saturday for Mike Gallagher’s album, “The Edge of a Dream.” She also will join Matt Santos at SPACE in Evanston for an all-ages show Friday.

“I really met some good people and made some good [connections].”

Although she would have enjoyed staying on the show longer, the Lane Tech graduate appreciates the exposure and experience afforded to her by the program and has used it as a springboard to new opportunities.

Along with Kids These Days bassist Lane Beckstrom, Lanier is a part of a group of distinguished alumni flowing from the North Side high school.

“We always had great direction at Lane Tech,” she said. “I had the opportunity to play at House of Blues three times in high school, and to have that kind of support early on was really tight.”

While singing in the Chicago Children’s Choir as well as local churches, she fell in love with the art form. After high school, Lanier left to attend the University of Missouri.

After a brief flirtation with journalism and English, she realized her love of singing and tried out for the “Idol” experience.

“I wanted to be a journalist but it was never my dream to be a journalist,” she said. “I wanted to sing, and it really begins with believing you can do it and taking a chance.”

Since exiting the “American Idol” stage, Lanier has been in the studio with local producers working on her debut project and lending her voice to projects by other Chicago artists such as Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa.

If nothing else, the past few months have given Lanier a renewed sense of energy.

“Regardless of whether you are a winner or not, you need to know who you are as an artist and who you are musically,” she said. “I’m just now at a point where I’m taking risks, making sacrifices and am causing friction against what people think of me. I know what I truly want to do and I feel like I can actually do it.”

Jake Krzeczowski is a free-lance contributor. Follow him on Twitter: @jakekrez.



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