Passion drives McDonald to create music


Kate Davis

PURSUING HER PASSION: Senior Sadie McDonald practices one of her original, copyrighted songs. McDonald has been singing, as well as playing guitar and piano, since she was four years old.

Sammie Thompson, Managing Editor

Sitting down in front of the small electric piano, she adjusts her microphone to a perfect height. She places her hands on the black and white keys, takes a deep breath, and begins to play.

During quarantine, senior Sadie McDonald self-produced and copyrighted four original songs: “Dark Child,” “All Alone,” “All We Need,” and “Better to Love.”

“I wrote [the songs] about my own experiences with people and I recorded them at home with an audio interface,” McDonald said. “Then I got to copyright them, and I just received them back. Now I’m working with my neighbor, who’s a producer, to mix them and then maybe put them on a [music streaming] platform.”

Creating and producing music is a process that most teenagers aren’t aware of. It requires tools such as an audio interface, which converts instrument and microphone signals into a format that can easily be recognized by a computer.

“[Producing music] is definitely a lot of research,” McDonald said. “First, you have to get an audio interface and then you have to work and learn about the different recording programs. I personally use Pro Tools for recording.”

As Sadie grew, so did her creativity. She routinely created and performed musical shows for her family and friends.

— Cindy Sebek, McDonald’s mom

Once the music is recorded, it’s ready to be copyrighted. Similarly to the process of producing music, copyrighting songs requires several steps to be done properly.

“For copy writing, you have to record it in a medium where people can understand the lyrics,” McDonald said. “Then you have to pay like $85 and wait six months. It’s a whole process.”

McDonald’s dreams of producing and copyrighting her own, original music began long before she was stuck at home during quarantine. She has been expressing herself musically since she was four years old.

“Beginning when she was little bitty, Sadie started singing nursery rhymes and lullabies with a microphone in hand,” McDonald’s mom Cindy Sebek said. As Sadie grew, so did her creativity. She routinely created and performed musical shows for her family and friends.

In her more recent years, McDonald has still found music to be something she is excited about.

“Music is my passion and the love of my life,” McDonald said. “It’s just become a creative outlet for me.”

The inspiration for McDonald’s musical creativity came from many sources throughout her childhood, including her parents.

“My dad introduced me to music; he was a musician,” McDonald said. “My entire life, I’ve been surrounded by it. I’ve always sung my own songs since I could talk.”

Each individual song also has its own inspirations. In addition to the songs she copyrighted, McDonald also wrote and produced a song, called “Without Love,” about the widespread Black Lives Matter protests that occurred last year.

“If I’m feeling fired up and passionate about an event, I just write wherever I am,” McDonald said. “So I saw George Floyd’s cries for help on the news, and I was crying about that. I immediately just went to my notebook and started writing.”

McDonald’s music, which falls under the acoustic pop genre, has a unique sound that listeners enjoy.

“Sadie’s music is very beneficial, full of emotion and power, and needs to be heard by more people,” senior Olivia Ray said. “[She] speaks, sings, and writes from the heart, and that is what makes her music unique.”

McDonald has also collaborated with other students, including Ray, in the past.

“Sadie and I have known each other for many years, and one of the first things we bonded over was music,” Ray said. “We have written songs and sung together many times.”

McDonald’s songs, which are all based on personal, life experiences, provide listeners with a look into who she is as a person.

“Sadie is a unique musician and person because she’s able to create something special out of an experience or something that’s personal to her for a multitude of reasons,” Sebek said. “She tells stories about life through her music.”

McDonald has a lot of plans for the future. While she intends to go to college and explore other careers, music is something that will always be a part of her life and a potential career path.

“I am planning on working with my neighbor who is a real producer soon as well to develop some of my songs,” McDonald said. “I am a self-taught producer, so I’m not the most experienced, but with my neighbor, I’m going to record and copyright a new set of songs by the end of the year.”

The encouragement of McDonald’s family and friends is what allows her to express herself and her feelings in a unique way. To support McDonald and her work,  find her on Instagram at ‘sadesandsmiles’ or on YouTube at ‘S. Mac’s Melodies.’

“I feel pride and joy when I hear Sadie singing her original songs, knowing that her songs are a way to express herself,” Sebek said. “I think to myself, what a gifted, creative, and talented daughter I have.”