The Ladybug Music Festival will return to Milford on Saturday, September 30, the largest concert in the country featuring a 100 percent female-fronted lineup. The festival, which began as a downtown block party, has grown to become one of the most popular events in southern Delaware. The Milford festival is presented by Downtown Milford Inc. in partnership with Gable Music Ventures. One of the artists who will perform at the festival, Kerry Hallett, explained that she has been moved by music for as long as she can remember.
“I was terribly shy in my teens and for most of my adult life,” Hallett said. “In grade school, I studied and played the cello, which I loved, but sort of chose because I was too shy to sing, which is what I really longed to do. I think I picked a huge instrument I could hide behind. At age 14, my mom got me a pawn shop guitar for Christmas, and I plugged away, teaching myself to play. I’d lock myself in my bedroom and sing quietly to myself – for years – before I ever sang in front of another human.”
Hallett explained that music had always been a conduit for her emotions and that she is a “playlist-making fiend.”
“Whether I am curating the perfect song to listen to that matches what I’m feeling, or a song is pouring out of me when I’m going through something, it’s always very tied to expressing emotion for me,” Hallett said. “Sometimes I think even just sounds or a melody can step in where words fall short.”
Born and raised in Virginia Beach, Hallett moved to Philadelphia for college at the age of 17. Claiming she was “all over the board” for a while when she first started college, Hallett settled on art history as a major as she was drawn to languages, art and anthropology.
“Art history was a way to combine those loves,” Hallett said. “I worked in restaurants to support myself and always played music on the side. It’s been quite a journey to get here, but now I pay the bills mostly through my music with a bartending gig thrown in here and there. I’m also finishing up my master’s degree in nonprofit leadership as my wife and I would like to have our own dog rescue someday.”
One of the things that Hallett enjoys about performing is that it was what got her over her shyness, even though she still gets nervous on stage.
“Performing lets me channel this part of me that is usually hidden but can come out through the energy on stage and through the encouragement of the crowd,” Hallett said. “I really never thought I’d sing in front of anyone, and being able to share and be recognized for my talent really feeds and nurtures that shy, unsure kid inside me.”
The biggest challenge she faces in the industry, according to Hallett is exposure, which is why she finds festivals so attractive. She stated that the expenses involved in equipment, recording, touring and more can add up quickly.
“I also tend to get pigeon-holed as a member of the LGBTQ community,” Hallett said. “I think people often assume I will sound a certain way or that my music will be about a certain thing. Literally, every show I play, someone says “wow, that is NOT the voice I thought would come out of you” which I try to take as a compliment.”
Hallett, who is also a member of a 90s cover band called GOLDSTAR, got involved in the Ladybug Music Festival through a friend and bandmate who told her about the festival and encouraged her to apply. This will be her first time performing at one of the Ladybug Festivals although she currently lives in Milton and is familiar with the Milford area.
“It’s my first time and I am super excited,” Hallett said. “It’s been a while since I played a large event like this. When I released my EP, “Tender Trap,” under the band name Heart Harbor, I did get to play at the Philadelphia Folk Festival which was extremely fun. Festivals like this are just so great for the exposure to music lovers who I might not otherwise reach. They give artists a platform and bring artists and fans together as a community. It’s also great to meet other folks working in the music business so we can make meaningful connections and keep lifting each other up.”
Hallett’s EP with Heart Harbor is available on Spotify and Apple Music. Learn more about Hallett and her music by visiting https://www.kerryhallett.com/.
The Ladybug Music Festival will feature seven stages throughout downtown Milford and will run from 4 to 9 PM. The schedule and more details can be found at https://www.theladybugfestival.com/milford.
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