Skilyr Hicks has been on a musical journey ever since she learned to play the guitar in late 2011.
The teen, who has written close to 20 original songs, appeared in this season’s episodes of America’s Got Talent on NBC earlier this month.
“It was really cool,” said the 14-year-old singer-songwriter. “I got to meet a lot of different people, a lot of very talented, amazing people. It was really cool to hang out with them.”
Skilyr auditioned for the competition in March in San Antonio. The audition aired July 9 and Skilyr received a standing ovation from the crowd and judges voted to send her to Las Vegas for the next level of the competition.
At the San Antonio audition, her mother and manager, Jodi Cronk, stood on the side of the stage with the show’s host, Nick Cannon. Even with cameras around her, Cronk’s focus was on Skilyr.
“You forget the cameras are even in your face,” Cronk said. “It was so powerful.”
The Las Vegas round was filmed in early June and aired July 16. Skilyr was one of several performers who were eliminated after performing in front of the judges for a second time.
Skilyr’s success is a result of the hard work she has put in over the past year and a half, said Cronk.
Skilyr received a guitar as a Christmas gift in 2008, but it wasn’t until November 2011 that she picked it up and began to play.
One night she decided to take the guitar out and learn how to play, said the rising North Augusta High School freshman.
“I picked up the guitar and I said to my sister these exact words, ‘I am not going to stop playing this guitar until I learn it,’” she said. “And I didn’t stop.”
Skilyr, who has always written poetry, took one of the poems she wrote after her father, Jon Hicks, passed away in July 2010 and turned it into her first song, Brand New Day.
“I just really needed an outlet, and music was that outlet for me,” she said. “It helped me with all the pain I felt. It helped me express (myself). It helped me heal.”
Her determination was God-driven, said the teen.
“It was a spiritual drive in me,” she said. “I think God (drives) me to write the songs that I write. I know my songs come from him so he’s the one I have to thank.”
Skilyr had her first public performance in February 2012 and since then, has performed in more than 100 shows. She also has an album, Brand New Day, and is working on a second.
The songs she’s written aren’t tied to any particular genre, she said.
“I kind of go into everything,” said Skilyr.
Although Skilyr’s no longer in the America’s Got Talent competition, her family is still cheering for those they met during the experience.
“If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be watching America’s Got Talent with a box of tissues, balling my eyes out,” said Cronk, adding that they had gotten the chance to meet many of the other performers.
“It’s just seeing people have their moment, their well-deserved moment. It’s different to have that kind of connection with people who are on TV when you’ve gotten to know them.”
Being eliminated from the competition hasn’t deterred Skilyr from pursuing a music career. She plans to continue to write music, perform and “see where God takes me on this journey,” she said.