Budding musician builds dreams in Burnsville, Minnesota

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Minnesotans are good at making and keeping connections, it’s just one reason why we live here. 

For a young man in Burnsville, a connection between his school and a local music studio is giving him the chance to pursue his talent and passion. 

Twice a week, for an hour-and-a-half, you will find Burnsville High School senior Markell Sutton making music at a local venue and recording studio called, “The Garage.” 

“I have a businessman mentality, but my artistry is my writing,” Sutton said. 

For the intensity you hear in Sutton's music, "Kell Komp,” as he likes to be called, is a pretty chill 18-year-old. 

“What do I enjoy? To express myself, mainly," said Sutton. "Because I feel like if you express yourself, other people are able to connect with that. So I don’t really go off other people’s influences, I really lead myself."

Sutton was discovered during a pep rally at his high school last fall. Through a partnership between the City of Burnsville, District 191 Community Education and Catalyst Music at The Garage, he is now able to create music for free. 

“I like to write, I rap. Well I wouldn't even call myself a rapper, I call myself an artist, it’s more broad,” Sutton said. 

Inspired by his family and his feelings, Markell is living out a dream that started when he was only 12 years old.

“I’m a family-oriented person," he said. "I have little sisters and I have a lot of little siblings, so I feel like just being that person that they can look up to is something that they can take and as they get older they’ll be like ‘Oh, wow. That’s amazing.'"

When Sutton comes to The Garage, he collaborates with Studio Manager Rob Frost. Together, they record, edit and produce music. 

“I could tell right away that he had a lot of drive and a lot of ambition. He had a real talent,” Frost said. “The sky’s the limit because the kid is so talented.”

“I’m an introvert, so I observe a lot. So nothing gets past me,” Sutton said about his writing. “I always enjoyed music. That was the main thing. But being able to write your own music, now that’s a whole different spectrum.”

Sutton released a four-song EP earlier this year called “Spoken Chronologically.” He also released a music video for his song, “In A Day.” 

“It’s honesty," he said. "So just listen to the lyrics. If you listen to the lyrics and you were to have a conversation with me for an hour, you would understand. But if you were just a person that just clicked on the link, you wouldn’t understand."

Sutton says his music is a personal process that has developed over time. 

“It wasn't easy, I wouldn't even say it’s easy now because dealing with your feelings… you want everything to sound how you want it to sound coming from the ear,” Sutton said. 

The Garage also offers students like Sutton the chance to perform in the venue portion of the building, located near Burnsville City Hall. 

“It’s a blessing to be here, so I thank them for the free shows," said Sutton. "I have to give credit where it’s due."

Sutton will spend the summer working on his craft. He plans to go to college in the fall and build his career around both music and business. 

The program at The Garage starts up again at the start of next school year. It is open for free to Burnsville High School students who want to create their own music.