When McAlester teenager Estella Kirk began preparations for a video to spotlight the title song on her new EP "Bright Side," she didn't have to look very far to find some enthusiastic cast members.
Some of her friends from the McAlester and Eufaula areas guest-starred on the resulting video spotlighting her song.
Kirk's new EP "Bright Side" has just been released. The faith-inspired EP contains five songs Kirk-cowrote with Kira Fontana, a California-based singer-songwriter and the producer of Kingdom Sound.
Kirk, who is the current Miss McAlester Outstanding Teen, is excited about about her new EP release.
"It's crazy, but also really cool," said Kirk, who is billed as a Christian pop artist. She's already received feedback from listeners on some of the songs on the EP, including "Shelter in the Storm," which went into wide release in the spring.
"It's cool to hear how music has given them an inspiration, to give them a light in this world that seems so dark right now," Kirk said.
The official video for "Bright Side" includes some terrain that looks familiar — as in Southeastern Oklahoma — compared to some of her other videos, which were shot in Southern California. Zack Patrick, who directed her California videos, traveled to McAlester for the "Bright Side" shoot, Kirk said.
"Bright Side was filmed in McAlester with a lot of my friends," said Kirk. "Some go to Life Church in McAlester and some go to school in Eufaula."
The song and the video has a message that Kirk believes is important.
"t's about staying on the bright side," Kirk said. "It's about peer pressure.
The video features young people gathered around a campfire. When someone tries to slip Kirk a drink that's been spiked with alcohol, she detects it and pours the drink onto the ground.
"In that we had a red cup that represents us turning down alcohol" Kirk said. She said she wants to tell teens — and everyone else — they can have fun that doesn't involve partying with alcohol.
She said it's important to understand "building our relationship and worship with God and becoming stronger."
It's all part of Kirk's message advising young people to "Choose Wisely"— a program she created to speak to youth church groups regarding listening to uplifting music and accessing positive content when online. It's also her platform as Miss McAlester Outstanding Teen.
"Teens spend an average of seven hours a day on their phones," said Kirk, who cites studies showing strong links between heavy social media use can result in increased risk of depression, anxiety and other issues.
"If we are consuming over seven hours of something, we have to choose wisely to make sure we are surrounding ourselves with positive messaging and images.
Kirk released "Shelter in the Storm," the first single from the EP, earlier this year during the beginnings of COVID-19 pandemic. She hoped to inspire hope and faith during what has been a trying time for many.
Also on the album are the songs "Eyes on You," "Watching Over Me," "Bright Side" and "Pretty Lies."
"Pretty Lies," has a video release featuring actress Jenna Vango. How did Kirk connect with her for the video shoot.
"She was my friend from Dallas," Kirk said. "I asked her is she would like to do it and she said she would love to do it."
"I wrote this song to expose the pretty lies in our society from social media so that we could all recognize our true value," Kirk said.
Kirk plays several musical instruments.
"I've been playing guitar about three years," she said. "I also play ukelele and piano."
Along with the EP release, Kirk had released a line of merchandise now available at The Galleria at 3 E. Choctaw Ave. in downtown McAlester. In additions to CDs, merchandise includes T-shirts, hoodies and hats.
"Bright Side" is also available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and Pandora as well as from Amazon and streaming platforms.
In the future, Kirk hopes to speak and play at churches and address youth groups as part of delivering her message. "I'm hoping to talk to youth groups and speak to them about choosing wisely," Kirk said.
"It's really cool and awesome to be able to connect through these stories," she said. "It's super-cool to hear people relate to these things."
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com