Making a life out of Music


Ryan Padilla, 22, performing with his band Little King at the UNT v UTSA home game in the Alumni Pavilion

Padilla performing original songs and covers on acoustic guitar at the UNT Alumni Pavilion.

Padilla and Little King drummer, Jarod “Grimmy” Grimm after the show discussing wisdom teeth surgery and Padilla’s favorite albums

Musicians live and breathe through their craft. It is a rare occasion when you meet a musician who isn’t working on their next piece, or rehearsing through the middle of the night, or booking their next gig. Between performing, rehearsing, arranging, writing, the creative process is a full-time occupation.

It takes a lot out of a person emotionally and physically to keep up this life and to one day make a career out of it. Have you ever heard of a half-hearted musician?

UNT alumni, Ryan Padilla, is the lead singer and guitarist for the band Little King. Padilla has been performing since he was in middle school and has grown as a musician through performing in his church. Middle school dreams have now led to a growing band performing in venues across Texas, Oklahoma, and other southern states.

Beginning with church performances, leading to house shows, UNT events, and now bigger venues Little King’s journey is far from over.

“If Little King can get big, that would be awesome. But if not, I’m okay with that… You just gotta keep trucking and keep grinding,” Padilla said.

Katherine Kloepper, in White Rock Coffee Shop writing song lyrics

Katherine Kloepper, in White Rock Coffee Shop writing song lyrics

It takes a lot to put a house show together considering an artist has to find people willing to turn their living rooms into makeshift concert venues. Katherine Kloepper, 22, spends many evenings playing house shows across Texas since moving back from Chicago. Since returning to the Dallas Metroplex, Kloepper is often writing song lyrics in White Rock Coffee; The same coffee show she had her first ever performance in four years prior to her releasing her first EP under the name MARGO.

In an addition to house shows Kloepper also performs in Sofar shows. These are shows closely resembling the vibe of house shows with the goal of “creating an immersive experience” for the audience and the performers.

Kloepper sees songwriting and performing as a way to share experience and emotion with others but, like all other artists, can relate to the struggle of making performing a career instead of just a side gig. The term “starving artist” didn’t just come out from nowhere. Despite this Kloepper knows that gaining fame and recognition is not her end goal but rather creating spaces where people can fell seen and heard by her music.

Kloepper in the parking lot of White Rock Coffee

An “Open Mic Night” sign in the window of the coffee shop where Kloepper did her first show in front of family and friends

An “Open Mic Night” sign in the window of the coffee shop where Kloepper did her first show in front of family and friends


In a world not too far away, Simeon Davis performs alongside his jazz bandmates in a performance at UNT on the Square. Davis is a music student at UNT studying saxophone performance.

Simply put, “I want my music played and I want that to be my life,” Davis said. “Long term I’d love to work as a professor of jazz composition/arranging and potentially improvisation too somewhere. I'm particularly curious about Japan as their appreciation for jazz, funk, neo-soul, and R&B is massive.”

Going into a creative field never promises financial stability but sometimes passion outweighs fear. In a world where science and technology is valued more than the arts, choosing a career in music is anywhere from frivolous to dangerous financially speaking.

Simeon Davis enjoying a guitar riff played by Ricardo Urbina in the jazz band

Davis in a sound check before their performance listening for sound quality

Fan Zou, Davis, and Jonathan Shier preforming an original song arranged by Davis

UNT On the Square advertising the weekly performances by UNT students