A Time to Sing

by Anne Bradshaw

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    This singer’s a successful juggler—of church duties, education, and her art.

    “My ambition is to be another Julie Andrews,” smiles 16-year-old Shula Keyte from Four Oaks, West Midlands, England.

    Shula has other goals, too. Goals that include the gospel and Church callings. With hard work, determination, and prayer, she is learning to balance her religion, her art, and her education. Although this balancing act isn’t always easy, Shula is learning how to make it happen, and is using her gift to bring the gospel message to others.

    “My patriarchal blessing says I should use my voice as a missionary tool,” Shula says. So she does.

    Whether it’s performing for charity concerts, festivals, homes for the elderly, funerals, weddings, or church events, Shula’s voice brings a shiver to spines in the audience.

    Being conscious of the types of performing which are uplifting, and using her voice to provide those kinds of performances, has given Shula some very special opportunities. When Shula was 12 she was chosen to sing the prelude music at a regional conference presided over by President Howard W. Hunter in Birmingham Town Hall. Shula was especially thrilled when President Hunter requested she come down from the choir. “He gave me a hug and thanked me for singing,” she says.

    Shula’s talent has put her in great demand with several different groups, so Shula has to make a lot of tough decisions about how she will spend her time. At these times, Shula relies on guidance from both her earthly parents and her Heavenly Father to make the best choices.

    For example, Shula recently auditioned for the renowned National Youth Music Theater. She was offered a part in Pendragon, which will tour Scotland and be presented at the Edinburgh Festival—an event frequented by talent scouts and televised throughout Britain.

    Unfortunately, rehearsals will coincide with school G.C.S.E. exams, so she declined. The director even phoned her personally to try to change her mind, informing her she’d been chosen for outstanding musicality.

    A dilemma. Education versus opportunity. Education won.

    “Sometimes things feel like a sacrifice,” Shula agrees, “but I enjoy what I’m doing so much that it really isn’t. It’s all worthwhile.”

    Shula says she will always be grateful for the dedication of her parents. They are dedicated to the gospel and to making sure their daughter’s skills have every opportunity to grow. They are also very supportive in other ways, including serving as Shula’s permanent taxi drivers.

    Shula’s advice to anyone thinking of a musical career, or who is working toward any worthwhile achievement, is, “Keep close to the gospel and work, work, work until you achieve your goal.”

    Photography by Anne Bradshaw and courtesy of the Birmingham Evening Mail

    (Far left) Shula with parents, (bottom left) as Brigitta in The Sound of Music, and (below) singing at a charity concert.