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UNT students will perform on The Today Show Jan. 29
Senior Staff Writer
H. Drew Blackburn
It happened on Jan. 15, the day snow unexpectedly blanketed North Texas. Kim Walker received a call in her Arlington home.
She recognized a New York City area code and had an inkling as to who it might be on the other line.
“Who’s calling?” Kim asked.
The person on the telephone 1,500 miles northeast was a producer from The Today Show and asked to speak to her daughter, RTVF junior Kayley Walker.
Kayley and her partner in rhyme, music junior Andrew Walker were being invited to the Big Apple – all expenses paid – to perform a jingle they wrote for the show, on air, on Jan. 29.
Together they form The Walkers, an alternative folk duo.
The Walkers’ Beginning
Andrew and Kayley may have the same last name, but they aren’t related.
“I have to tell people we’re not married,” A. Walker said.
Every year their pictures sat next to each other in the Boles Junior High yearbook but they weren’t friends until their junior year of high school.
The Walkers didn’t start making music together until their freshman year at UNT in 2010.
Kayley was aware of Andrew’s piano performance videos on YouTube.
“I was listening to it in my dorm one day and singing random words to it,” Kayley said. “I called him and was like hey, we should turn this into a song.“
A. and K. hashed out a song over the phone in real time.
The Walkers were born.
Fellow Arlington resident and pre-RTVF sophomore Alexandra Hobbs collaborated with The Walkers over Christmas break. She met Kayley in Sigma Phi Lambda, a UNT sorority.
“We figured out we both have the same hometown and have lived very close to each other but never met,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs filmed and edited their music video for a song called “Maybe Just Maybe.”
Kayley’s aunt informed her of the competition over lunch one day. The Walkers, in similar fashion to their formation, got together and crafted a song in one day.
“My mom filmed us on my iPhone and that’s what we sent in,” Kayley said.
Brittany Haviland, an NBC Universal producer, was part of selecting the finalists. She said the winner of the competition receives a trophy and the title of “Today’s Best.”
“We did some callouts on air and had people submit to our website,” Haviland said. “Kayley and Andrew’s jingle had such a feel-good beat. They stood out among the many submissions we received.”
“I’ve always been, just kind of shy,” Kayley said. “It’s hard for me to communicate my thoughts and feelings.”
She traces her interest in music to her grandparents along with its propensity to serve as refuge.
“I’ve been singing pretty much my whole life,” Kayley said. “I started playing guitar when my grandma was trying to learn.”
Kim Walker recalled that Kayley’s grandmother, who passed away four months ago, had the voice of an angel.
“She gets her musical, God-given talents from her grandparents,” Kim said.
Andrew Walker said he’s been playing instruments for the larger chunk of his life. He began playing piano by ear before taking lessons and joined the school orchestra in the fifth grade.
“I didn’t sing until freshman year of college,” he said. “I just played and composed piano music.”
Kayley said that, thematically, The Walkers’ music is about love and life, and the goal is for people to be able to relate.
“We’re not going for the pop random lyrics like ‘baby, baby, yeah yeah yeah’,” A. Walker said.
Sleeping At Last, an indie rock band from Wheaton, IL, is one of The Walkers’ biggest influences.
“Their lyrics are so deep,” A. Walker said. “It’s poetry.”
The Walkers’ influences also include The Fray, The Civil Wars and Marina and the Diamonds.
A. Walker likened Kim Walker’s filming of their jingle to a scene in the 2004 comedy Mean Girls.
In the scene, Amy Poehler’s character, Mrs. George, comically dances and mouths the words to a song as her daughter and her three friends perform at a talent show.
“It took us a long time to record the video because we kept laughing,” Kayley said.
When The Walkers met on campus the second day of class, they told random students that they were going to be on TV.
A. Walker said it reminded him of the movie Requiem for a Dream, when one of the characters walks around boasting she’ll be on TV.
“It was snowing that day too,” he said. “It just seemed like a dream.”