UTAH COUNTY — One woman in Utah County seemed to be on a path to stardom, but decided to switch gears. Now, she’s looking to reclaim some of her childhood ambitions and put her talents to work by running a YouTube show for kids.
Sitting at a piano in her living room, Rozelle Hastwell sings for herself. There are no spectators, and it’s a far cry from the days of her youth, but now, she’s bringing a bit of that youth back into her life.
Even though in a way, music has never really left — it may as well be part of her family.
“I really feel like music touches something that nothing else can,” she said. “It enhances your life in ways that other things can’t. It’s almost like an emotional, spiritual medium.”
Down in a small room in her basement, Hastwell reboots her computer. She says she needs to in order to get the audio working properly, as it’s currently hooked up to a keyboard and microphone.
After a few moments, she starts up a video on YouTube.
She’s not exactly sure of the date — she believes it’s from 1983 or 1984 — but there’s Hastwell, wearing a hat and trenchcoat, singing Paul McCartney’s song “Average Person,” complete with backup dancers.
Hastwell laughs at their 1980s outfits.
She spent years performing on a show called “Perth’s Young Entertainers,” which she says is something like Western Australia’s version of the “Mickey Mouse Club.”
When asked if she was well known enough to be recognized in public, she reluctantly says she was.
“I wasn’t hugely famous, like some big star,” she said. “But I did get a couple of fan letters, and stuff like that. I guess in its sphere, it was ‘a deal,’ you know. It was a lot of fun, and it taught me at a young age to work.”
She credits her mother and father for not being the stereotypical “stage parents.” Hastwell says she heard about auditions for the show, and while her parents were encouraging, they made sure she pursued it on her own.
“I was 10 years old, I called up the station, and I said ‘I want to audition,’” she said. “My mom knew then that I was serious.”
Hastwell recalls many long hours, learning and rehearsing musical segments for the show.
Eventually, she got married and moved to the U.S. and focused that work ethic on raising a family. Her music career became a childhood memory.
“I couldn’t see how to fit this into my new life,” she said. “I thought I’d just sing at weddings, and I actually ended up singing with a jazz band in the Utah Valley area.”
Eventually, inspiration spoke — Hastwell became a songwriter.
She says people may laugh and think she’s a “bit weird,” but she believes it may have been a touch of divine influence.
“I literally woke up with a complete song in my head,” she said. “And then it was another song, and then it was another song, and it just kept coming.”
She now has over 60 original songs, but was left with no real outlet.
Back upstairs, Hastwell drags a large cardboard box into her kitchen. Her daughter Juliette stands there with a smile, knowing she’s about to start sweating.
“At first they were really excited about it, but then the novelty wears off,” Hastwell said with a laugh.
Hastwell found a kangaroo costume online and recruited her family to help bring her music to the world. She flips on a couple of lights, adjusts a small camera on a tripod, then arranges herself and her costume-clad daughter to make sure they’re in frame. She gives a brief greeting, speaking into the lens, and starts to play her ukulele.
Hastwell launched her own show on YouTube, called “Mimi’s Playtime,” with the goal of using music to help educate children. But even for a former child star, the idea was a bit intimidating.
“It is kind of scary because you’re putting yourself out there and you’re vulnerable to criticism and things like that,” she said. “But I just felt so strongly about the content and what I’m doing that I felt like I just needed to share it.”
The show focuses on teaching kids the basics of music, with a few videos and songs about animals and other educational topics. Her channel is pretty small, but Hastwell says she’s already making a difference.
“A lady actually from Australia wrote a message on my Instagram and said, ‘Thank you so much. I’m learning about music theory that I never learned when I was in school,’” she said. “It’s a really great way to bond with your child as you learn together.”
Hastwell’s no longer just singing for herself — she brought music back into her family, and is focused on helping bring other families closer together, with the help of her songs and the talent she thought she’d left back in Australia.
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Australian child TV star turned mom runs YouTube show from her Utah County home /p>