Minnetonka Breezes Musician Spotlight: Cheslea Lai and Mary McDonald

Sophie Moore, Staff Writer

For this month’s Artist Spotlight, Breezes focuses on two talented musicians, Mary McDonald, ‘20, and Chelsea Lai, ‘20. In March, the duo performed at the Coffeehouse Concert with the songs “My My My” by Troye Sivan and “Dear Happy” by Dodie Clark (featuring Thomas Sanders).

As musicians, both Lai and McDonald have had a fair amount of experience. Lai said she has been taking piano lessons for eleven years and learned the Ukulele from the Internet.

McDonald has “always loved to sing and perform in front of lots of people, and [she and her brother] have gone to many bluegrass festivals together.”

For the pair, playing and performing music serves as a stress-reliever in their high school lives. With the both of them taking all honors and AP classes in their sophomore year, they turn to music as a creative outlet.

McDonald understands that “music lets you into another part of yourself  that’s hard to get to with just sports and schoolwork, and you shouldn’t give that opportunity up easily.”

Lai loves playing music because “it conveys feelings past the point of words […] and having that outlet to share joy, disappointment, heartbreak, whatever it may be, with someone else in very cathartic.”

      Musical inspiration-wise, this pair does not disappoint with their unique and talented list of artists and productions that inspire them.

For Lai, she is often inspired by musical productions like Dear Evan Hansen, Be More Chill, and Amelie, as well as YouTube singer-songwriter, Dodie Clark (aka doddleoddle).

She thinks “it’s the wonderful ability to help convey plot and development” that drew her into the show tunes of these Broadway hits. As for Mary, she says that she is a big fan of South African-Australian artist Troye Sivan’s music, thus having his song “My My My” on their set list.

Lai and McDonald offered some words of advice to other aspiring young artists. Lai and McDonald say “not to make excuses, and do not give up […] there are so many tutorials, sheet music, etc of every genre that you will be able to find the tools you need to learn a new instrument or song.” In the end, they both agree “it is incredibly rewarding to play a song that you love.