LOS LUNAS — If you attend Los Lunas High School girls’ basketball games, you might think No. 22 looks familiar.
Perhaps you have seen Kamila Kiehne somewhere — a University of New Mexico football game? A New Mexico United soccer match or at church services? What about Monster Truck Jam?
Kiehne, a 16-year-old sophomore plays on both the LLHS junior varsity and varsity teams, and is making a name for herself as a singer/songwriter, performing her own music or the National Anthem at scores of events.
“My parents told me I started singing ever since I started talking,” Kiehne said. “When I was 6 years old, I realized, ‘Oh, my voice is kind of good.’”
If you don’t recognize the face, you might know the name. Kamila’s father, Shawn Kiehne, performs Spanish and Tex-Mex music under the stage name El Gringo. Shawn has recorded several albums and, in 2005, won second place in Univision’s El Gigante de Mañana contest.
For those unfamiliar with Kamila’s talents, she is a little bit country, maybe a little bit rock and roll and for sure a lot gospel. Kiehne has honed her skills singing at Legacy Church.
A quick check on YouTube reveals her versatility. Kiehne is inspired vocally by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, “singers like that.” Kiehne’s real passion might be composing music.
“I began writing songs when I was about 4 years old, when I could read and write,” Kiehne said.
She lists Adam Levine of Maroon 5 as a prime influence.
“The way he produces music, the way he puts his words together, really inspires me,” she said.
But Kiehne tries to have her own writing style, describing it as, “chill or emotional, moody music. I like to put true emotion and feeling into my songs.”
Her father, Shawn, who is an assistant girls’ basketball coach at LLHS, says his daughter’s talent is obvious.
“She’s way better than me,” the proud father says. “She’s really been blessed with a lot of talent. I’m a proud daddy, for sure.”
What do her teammates on the LLHS basketball team think?
“Sometimes they get annoyed because I sing 24-7,” Kiehne said, smiling. “On the court, during games, during practice, on the bus. I find myself humming or whistling or singing.” Despite that, “I know they support me.”
As for basketball itself, “It’s fun and I get to be aggressive.” Aggression may not fit the mold of someone who sings “chill” music, but “I love the bonds that I have made over basketball.”
Her dream, however, isn’t the WNBA but perhaps American Idol.
“I would love to make it in the music industry,” she said. “I’ve worked really hard at it. I really want to do it. That’s my drive.”
Besides, Kiehne might be more at home at a microphone than at the free throw line.
“Music makes me feel really safe. Singing is like a safe spot for me, honestly.”
Shawn, who has been performing for about 20 years, has been telling his daughter for years, “You can be really big in this. You have the talent, just go for it. Use your God-given talent to the best of your ability.”
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.