More than 30 years ago, Kevin Edwards says he was given a gift as a shy Vernon High School student, a gift he is now passing on in his empowering debut childrens book, Kevin Turns Fear into Feat.
An award-winning singer, songwriter, author, and educator, Edwards has performed internationally, including in Italy and Switzerland during the 2019 European Gospel Festival, and has lent his vocal talents to such notable soundtracks as the Paramount Pictures hit, The Fighting Temptations.
But while Edwards has sung since he was eight years old, he says he didnt really find his voice until a VHS teacher recognized his talent and encouraged him to use it to overcome his fears.
I was bullied in school, said Edwards. I felt rejected and was painfully shy, so I sang mostly in church because I was afraid to use my gifts.
Then VHS English and Chorus teacher Sabra Shores approached Edwards and asked him to sing at the National Honor Society induction. It would be the first of many school performances by Edwards at Shores request.
She saw something in me, he said. She saw that gift and helped me mold it, helped me to become confident. People can help shape us, and Mrs. Shores was that person for my music.
Edwards says as a result of Shores influence, he was able to embrace his musical talents and use them as a source of strength to overcome his fears.
From then on, I sang at every school event, he said. I was finally using my gift, and kids went from bullying me to looking up to me.
Inspired by his experience, Edwards wrote Kevin Turns Fear into Feat, a book about a young boy who struggles with bullying and acceptance from his peers but finds music to be his saving grace.
In an echo of Edwards pivotal encounter with Mrs. Shores, the young boys outlook on life is changed when a teacher asks him to sing in a school program.
There are three main points I want to convey to the reader through this book, said Edwards. Any student can push through their fears of being rejected or bullied and still reach their highest potential. Every student should seek that one thing they are gifted in and pursue it whole-heartedly. And no matter how scary the circumstances may look, Do it afraid.