"I was 10 years old and in the convalescent stage of Lyme disease..."
Keta Jo McCue was born into a very musical family with her mother into bluegrass and her father in a punk-rock band. She has been homeschooled since 1st grade in order for her family to travel, perform and do things that traditional school would have hindered. Since attending SHINE, Keta Jo has signed with Capitol Records, released her first EP and toured with popular UK artist Sam Smith.
A first album! How exciting…tell me about it.
I have just written and recorded an album with 10 original songs called Generation Call.
Before SHINE, I had only written one song and it had not been recorded. After SHINE, I got a call from a talent scout that works for a man in the music industry that wanted to meet with me after seeing my resume, headshot and YouTube channel.
My mom and I went to meet him in Florida at his office. The meeting was phenomenal! They said to expect a 30 minute meeting but we were in there for 4 hours! After that I got a contract for Artist Development and Consulting.
You did something new and unusual as well. I heard you developed this album over the internet?
I started Skype Sessions with a Producer and some musicians in LA and did Skyping writing sessions. Ten songs were written during that period of time! This was all a God thing.
Then my mother and I flew out to LA in August. We stayed 2 weeks while I recorded the first half of the album in the studio in Santa Monica. And then we flew back out to LA in September and stayed 3 weeks to record the last half of the album. It is now finished but not released to the public. There are still two music video shoots to do.
You’ve been homeschooled in order to free up your family’s time to perform. What’s something you did in that time that sticks out in memory?
My most memorable job would have to be singing ‘God Bless America’ for George W. Bush. For the last 10 years I’ve been on the road performing for political candidates like Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, on the Floor of the House of Representatives and for the Speaker of the House.
It wasn’t always such a hopeful outlook was it? You had a horrible scare a few years back. What happened?
When I was 10 years old I was bitten by a tick (very normal where we live) and we removed it like we always do. But 2 weeks later I began having problems. There was a rapid decline in my health and I was misdiagnosed for 12 months. By then I had Stage 4 Chronic Lyme disease. I had deep tissue damage. My back hurt so badly that I had an MRI to see what was wrong. The results said that I was in convalescent stage of Lyme disease! I was 10 years old using a cane and braces for my ankles, knees and wrists. I even had a wheel chair just in case. Even when I was laying on the couch I was in constant pain. Every bone, every joint hurt and was swollen.
I was put on intense antibiotics. Developed rocky mountain spotted fever and had a swollen brain. Too many antibiotics caused different conditions and were destroying my gall bladder, intestines and stomach. Also, my body got used to the antibiotics and I had to switch them often to trick my body.
The year of being on the antibiotics wasn’t working. By the end of year (12 months on antibiotics), it traded off one set of symptoms for another (muscle spasms etc.)
What happened next?
A friend suggested we try a natural remedy products and nutritional support. We went to Chicago and I was treated with nutritional joint formula. It was a miracle! After taking these products for 6 months more and more symptoms would just drop off. I was regaining strength and doing regular activities.I wanted to take martial arts. My dad is a martial arts instructor and everyone in my family (sisters/cousins) are in it. The more I did the better I got and the better I felt….class after class.
How did your health experience affect your music and song writing?
So, my experience for writing doesn’t come from being in love or having troubles like that, it’s from going down a really dark hole, grabbing a rope and pulling myself back up. It is driven from my situation and from my health.
From convalescence to performing at SHINE…tell me about your experience there. What was it like? And how did AMTC help your career?
I am absolutely in love with AMTC and what they are doing. In 2007, I was looking online for Christian programs. I was really interested, but it wasn’t God’s time. In 2012, my grandma saw a billboard to audition, so I did.
I got in and going through the process was absolutely amazing. Everyone was so nice. I learned so much through all of that. The community of SHINE, and the whole experience was like Heaven on earth. Being surrounded by so many people on fire for Christ was amazing. It was nice to see young people and adults to go after their dreams but to also keeping their faith.
My music callbacks loved me, but wanted original songs. They loved me, but I needed original songs. Fast forward two months and that is when I got the call from the scout.
What else happened after SHINE?
I changed my diet and began working with a personal trainer and have lost 45 pounds since my audition for AMTC. I joined CYT ( Christian Youth Theater ), I served as Stage Manager for a production and I’m a member of a leadership program called H.Y.P.E (High School Youth Pursuing Excellence).
What advice would you give to future performers who want to make a positive impact for God?
It's all in God’s timing. After SHINE I was a bit bummed with my callbacks, but then I realized that I needed to work 10 times harder than before SHINE…and it worked!
Also, a performer needs to get out there. Eventually God’s will will be done. It’s all in His hands and if it’s where you belong, it will happen. You’ll go and learn from experience. Work on what they say. Improve yourself and your abilities and trust in God.
Anything you want to add, Keesha (Keta’s Mom)?
God most surely used AMTC to facilitate a complete turn around in her life and set her feet on a solid path to use her story to inspire others.