Nine-year-old Jaden Carlson has only been playing guitar for three years, but during that time her talent has skyrocketed her from beginning musician to touring performer.
She gave a special performance sponsored by the Grand County Blues Society on June 3 for the students at Indian Peaks Charter School.
This third-grader, beyond having the job of being a kid, maintains a resume with more experience than some musicians twice her age.
Carlson, a Boulder native, has performed everywhere from Desert Rocks Music Festival in Moab, to Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, to the House of Blues in San Diego.
She has opened for a band that included members of AC/DC, Guns N' Roses and Survivor, played on a stage once graced by B.B. King, and was lifted from the crowd to accompany Michael Franti on his song, "Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong" in front of an audience of 2,000 people.
At 6 years old, Carlson discovered she wanted to play guitar while at a concert with her parents. She stood in the front row (the only place she could see), gazing up at the guitar player, and as her mother recounted, Carlson turned to her, eyes wide, saying, "I want to do that."
Her parents explained that she would have to take lessons and practice, but that didn't stop Carlson. She now practices two hours every day, and though she favors rock 'n' roll, she is classically trained, already in number six of eight Suzuki method books, which Carlson quickly explained, is "very, very, very advanced."
When asked if she had a favorite song to play, she replied, "I like all 82 songs I know."
She also writes her own songs, four of which she performed for the charter school students, and all of which shared a common theme: sunshine.
She also performed Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" (without the lyrics, because, as Mom explained, some lyrics just aren't too appropriate for a 9-year-old to sing), "Come Together" by The Beatles, John Lennon's "Imagine," "One" by U2, and she closed with a toe-tapping "Sound of Sunshine" by Michael Franti.
Despite her professionalism and knack for self-promotion, Carlson is still a kid. Beyond the guitar, she loves playing soccer, skiing, hiking, running, and biking.
It appears that she balances her "regular" life with her professional life well; however, her friends at school can rarely make it to her concerts because as she explained, "most of my shows are past 9 p.m."
Her mother plays an important part acting as her agent, Carlson said, her manager, and everything else. (Her mother corrected quickly, "I'm not your agent, I'm your mother.")
Carslon, who has a CD out entitled "Midnight Sky," had some good advice for young, aspiring musicians: "If you're still a beginner and you mess up a little bit, then you're not bad, and if you keep practicing, you'll get really good."