BY PAM FRUCCI
When you’ve been singing in your crib since you were a baby and dancing at 3 years old, what do you do when you’re 25 and you’ve traveled the world entertaining on cruise ships? You answer the call to do music ministry Downriver!
Kirsten Sparks’ parents would hear her singing to herself in her crib on Woodside on Grosse Ile, so when she was 5 they signed her up for vocal lessons with Tracy King, who has the King School of Music in Taylor.
King instilled in the young singer the need to memorize her music, prepare for recitals and competition, and gave her music that ranged from classical to pop to folk. Along with dance lessons at the age of 3, Sparks became a performer at a very early age.
When going to Grosse Ile High School, Sparks played the role of Maria in the Southgate Community Players’ musical The Sound of Music in 2007 and the year she graduated in 2008, the talented singer won the $1,000 Grosse Ile Musicale scholarship and headed for NYC, where she enrolled at the American Musical Dramatics Academy.
When she graduated at the end of two years, she got hired by the Miracle Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where she performed in two of their productions playing a variety of roles.
Practically the moment the theater closed, Sparks got hired by a dinner theater in Rock Island, Ill., and played a role in The Marvelous Wonderettes. When that gig ended, she won an audition to be a featured performer with the Holland-American Cruise Lines. This assignment took her to Alaska, the Panama Canal, Hawaii, French Polynesian Islands, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, the Caribbean, and even to New England and Canadian ports.
Sparks would tell her friends, “I can’t believe they pay me to sing and dance, wear beautiful costumes, and travel the world.”
After being offered a job entertaining on board the Princess Cruise Lines, Sparks then traveled to Europe and cruised through the Mediterranean, visiting many ports along the way. After doing this for four years, Sparks decided that her real calling was music ministry. This decision brought her back home to Grosse Ile where she immediately became active singing in her former church on the Island which now is a campus of the mega Northridge Church in Plymouth. She’s performed at both churches.
On the side she’s joined the teaching staff of the newly created Arts Detroit studio in Allen Park, which just had a grand opening on April 23. Her friend and colleague Adriane Galea heads the studio. They work with young wannabe performers in piano and voice and will be offering summer classes. Sparks is teaching little 2-and-a-half to 4-and-a-half year-olds on Tuesdays.
Even though Sparks was offered three different contracts by cruise lines, she feels her calling is back where she started, sharing her talent in a church setting and not on the high seas.
For more information about Arts Detroit, find it online at artsdetroit.org or call (313) 427-2490.