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Fallston teen lends his voice to a worthy cause

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When 15-year-old Chris Monaghan, of Fallston, is not in school or traveling to "Music City" for gigs at Nashville's legendary Bluebird Cafe, he is preforming at countless venues in his hometown.

The Fallston High School 10th grader said he holds one upcoming performance close to his heart.

Chris will lend his musical talents to the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure a second time, singing in front of thousands of people as they walk or run Sunday to support breast cancer research in Hunt Valley.

"My mom is a survivor of breast cancer," Chris said. "I think it is important to use your gifts to help other people and it is a great cause for me to give back to."

Chris' mom and manager, Trish Monaghan, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 38. She beat cancer twice in 2001 and 2003 after undergoing a slew of drug treatments, radiation and chemotherapy.

"I'm very fortunate to still be here," Chris' mother said in a recent interview.

Chris said he believes in getting the most out of life. Armed with a debut CD, "Shameless," and an artist development deal under the mentoring of Nashville producer Kim Copeland, he said he hopes to use his music to inspire others to follow their dreams, while he follows his.

Chris came under the mentorship of his producer after begging his mother for two years to take a trip to Nashville so he could scope out the music scene. With little experience in music, Chris' mom said she started looking for a producer to offer her son some guidance for his career.

"I kept my eyes open for a producer and finally we sent an email to Kim Copeland with a link to Chris' music," Monaghan said. "She told us she normally doesn't work with anyone as young as Chris, but she was very impressed with his sound."

The family flew to Nashville and met with Copeland in the studio. Copeland agreed to help Chris develop his sound and overall artistic appeal, including vocal coaching and writing techniques.

Now, Chris said his school week is consumed with Skype meetings with his producer, hours of guitar and music lessons, practice with his band and at least two solo performances on the weekend. During the summer months, Chris has multiple performances each week.

Chris said he mostly performs covers in Harford County, but incorporates his original songs into his set for more exposure.

"You have to play what people want to hear," Chris said.

While Chris said he considers his musical stylings to be "timeless," incorporating acoustic, pop and rock, he shows a lot of maturity in his songs and content catering to a slightly older demographic.

"It's pretty timeless music," Chris said. "A lot of grown ups, who I don't know, support me, but some kids are also getting their parents to buy them my CD, so a broad group of people like my music."

He said one of his favorite original songs from his debut album is "Why," an ode to a friend who committed suicide.

"It's my favorite song because it has a special emotionally state of mind for me," Chris said in a somber tone. "A friend of mine committed suicide and that song is about him and wondering why things have these kind things have to happen."

Overall, Chris said his debut album, which is available for sale on iTunes, is about going after your dreams.

"It's about living the life you want and doing what you love," Chris said. "It's an inspiring type of CD."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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