As reported by the Explorer, June 11, 2008.

Singing for a Cure

Marana Teenager Created an Album to Fight Leukemia

By Laura Marble

If you sneak up to Kailey Carranza and catch her unaware, it’s likely you’ll hear singing.

The 13-year-old Marana resident serenades herself in the shower and in her bedroom after school. She sings when she’s happy — the way a cat purrs — and she sings when she finds a spot in some song that she wants to master.

“Once, she came home with a CD and started singing it, and she nailed it,” said her mother, Katherine Cortes. “It sounded just like the CD. She was 6 years old. She sang it straight for two months.”

In childhood, she had the thrill of singing a solo at the Tucson Convention Center during a concert of the Tucson Girls Chorus. She enjoyed the rush, too, of singing for old folks in nursing homes and for her relatives on karaoke.

But none of that can compare to the former Marana Middle School student’s latest musical achievement — debuting an album.

In a week, her CD “Singing for a Cure” should turn up in the local music section at the Borders bookstore at 4235 North Oracle Road. All proceeds from the $15 album will go toward research aimed at finding a cure for leukemia.

“I love to sing, and I thought it would be great to do something I like and help other people,” Kailey said.

The idea for the CD came from her mother, who volunteers for Lea’s Foundation, a Connecticut-based institution that funds leukemia research and provides cancer treatment for people who can’t afford it. The foundation helped Kailey’s great grandmother when she was struggling with breast cancer.

Recently, the foundation awarded $76,000 to a researcher at University of Connecticut Health Center for her work on a new anticancer drug that has shown promise in laboratory animals of treating leukemia, melanoma and breast cancer patients with few to no side effects. Money raised through sales of “Singing for a Cure” will go directly to that research.

“For Kailey to be in junior high and not only be participating in combating leukemia but also be just a couple of financial steps away from a breakthrough is amazing,” Cortes said.

Kailey’s songs are about loss, letting go and finding inspiration to keep going. To write them, the teenager solicited much input from members of her extended family who have experienced more life, collectively, than she has alone. But she also relied on empathy.

“I don’t think she realizes she does it, but she tries to place herself in other’s position,” Cortes said. “She engulfs herself in that a little while.”

One of Kailey’s favorite songs on the album is the first one she recorded. Titled “Living Without You,” it revolves around the grief process following loss. “I’m learning to live without you, but all this pain won’t go away,” the chorus says, “but there’s something inside that tells me that I’ll be OK, I’ll find my way.”

The project began in February and took about 10 hours a week of Kailey’s time. Her family is looking for sponsors to cover the CD’s production and manufacturing costs.