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Singer Julia Kirkwood paves way for young musicians

Local singer-songwriter Julia Kirkwood looks at her parents as she plays guitar in Old Town Square Feb. 6. (Anna von Pechmann | The Collegian)

In 2019, on the Mountain Avenue Stage in Old Town, 13-year-old Julia Kirkwood wowed the audience with her original music, stunning voice and effortless self-accompaniment on the acoustic guitar and piano. This fearless girl left the whole audience in awe of the incredible talent of someone so young. 

I really just wanted to encourage people and inspire them to not give up on living life, even though it’s kind of on hold a little bit.” -Julia Kirkwood, musician

Now 15, Kirkwood continues to amaze. She has grown into a talented multi-instrumentalist with both a strong voice and a strong message, neither of which will be forgotten here in Fort Collins. 


Local singer-songwriter Julia Kirkwood plays guitar in Old Town Square Feb. 6. (Anna von Pechmann | The Collegian)

Music has always been a part of Kirkwood’s life. Her mother’s side of the family carries a love for music, and her mother was involved in dance, opera and theatre when she was in high school.

“She had a piano, and when I was really little … I would go to her piano, which was in our basement, and I would just play on it,” Kirkwood said. “So it all started with a piano in my basement.”

Kirkwood shares her mother’s passion for music, including her love for opera.

“I love Marian Anderson; she was one of the first Black opera singers who was female as well, so I always looked up to her,” Kirkwood said.

Growing up with this passion for music hasn’t been easy, Kirkwood said. Since Kirkwood is still young, she often struggles to find other musicians to collaborate with or feels like she isn’t taken as seriously, she said.

“A lot of times when you are a kid and you have a huge, huge dream, people tend to try to dilute that dream with reality and the facts that it’s kind of a one-in-the-million chance that you’re actually going to get there,” Kirkwood said.

Local singer-songwriter Julia Kirkwood plays a piano in Old Town Feb. 6. (Anna von Pechmann | The Collegian)

Despite this, Kirkwood has made a name for herself in the Fort Collins community. She has even been able to share the stage with Colorado-based music icon Hazel Miller at FoCoMX and recently in a virtual event

“I’ve gained a better understanding of who I am and who I wanna be,” Kirkwood said. “I’ve been surrounded with so many amazing people, so many artists and mentors. At this point I’ve realized that it’s not about writing what other people will like — it’s about writing what you feel and what you think is right for yourself.”

Kirkwood’s songs are both bubbly and down-to-earth, tied together by emotional lyrics and uplifting messages. 


For Kirkwood, writing songs comes as almost a second language. She writes her music as she records it, layering her vocals on GarageBand and singing whatever lyrics come to her mind. 

“Most of my inspiration comes from, I’d like to say real-life experiences, but not all of those experiences are mine personally,” Kirkwood said. “A lot of the love songs I write are based off of things people in my family have gone through or friends have gone through.” 

Her song “Keep Fighting” was written during quarantine, immediately after she watched Elton John’s COVID-19 relief concert. Kirkwood felt the need to contribute some positivity in these tough times.

Local singer-songwriter Julia Kirkwood sits in front of a piano in Old Town Feb. 6. (Anna von Pechmann | The Collegian)

“I wanted to write something to kinda show that everyone is in this together; we are all in the same boat,” Kirkwood said. “I really just wanted to encourage people and inspire them to not give up on living life, even though it’s kind of on hold a little bit.”

This message of inspiration is a common theme in Kirkwood’s songs, as she wants to make sure that no one feels alone in this world. Kirkwood said the goal of her music is to give people hope and to “inspire them to express themselves.”

In the future, Kirkwood hopes to get signed to a record deal and be able to continue performing and working with other artists. One of her dreams is to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. 

“No matter what happens, I just always want my music to be a part of my life,” Kirkwood said.

Wherever Kirkwood ends up, whether it’s teaching music or performing at the Super Bowl in 2030, her impact on this town will never be forgotten.

She has paved the way for young musicians to be able to make names for themselves by working passionately at her music for so many years, despite the limitations and expectations people have put on her because of her age.

“On the bright side, there’s a whole new generation of musicians, whether they’re Black or not, that are just bringing up a whole new type of musical culture,” Kirkwood said. “It’s just really nice to see everyone bringing their own style from wherever they may be from to create an even bigger music scene in this world.” 

Maddy Erskine can be reached at or on Twitter @maddyerskine_.

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About the Contributor
Maddy Erskine, Arts and Culture Editor
Maddy Erskine has been the arts & culture editor for The Collegian since January. They began writing for The Collegian in August 2020 and quickly found their passion for journalism, prompting them to switch their major from anthropology to journalism and media communication that year.  Currently, Erskine works with reporters to find events, musicians, artists, restaurants, movies and other stories that should be shared with our community. Additionally, they edit articles for grammatical errors and accurate information before handing it off to the incredible copy team that catches any missed mistakes.  Born and raised in Fort Collins, Erskine was originally not looking forward to attending college in their hometown. However, that attitude changed immediately when they joined Rocky Mountain Student Media and started getting involved with both the radio station, KCSU, and The Collegian Erskine’s favorite part about Fort Collins is the variety of local music and art here. Growing up, their favorite subjects, and often the only classes they attended, were art and band. In the future, they hope to have their own publication that focuses on uplifting underrepresented voices in art and music.

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