Bits 'n' Pieces: Opportunity comes Swift-ly for local singer

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Vancouver singer Britnee Kellogg Conboy doesn’t think she sounds like country star Taylor Swift, but it seems judges in a recent nationwide contest would beg to differ. Conboy, a 25-year-old single mother of two and singer with the band 5 Guys Named Moe, entered a Sing Like Taylor Swift contest she heard about on Portland country station 99.5 The Wolf and won.

Conboy uploaded a video of herself singing the Swift ballad “Teardrops on My Guitar.” She didn’t try to replicate Swift’s sound but rather interpreted the song in her own way.

The tactic worked, as a panel of judges named her the Portland finalist. Conboy was then compared to finalists from six other cities across the country. Last month, she was invited to The Wolf’s studio and found out live on “The Mike and Amy in the Morning Show” that she’d won.

“It’s amazing,” she said, adding that getting to sing on the show was a thrill.

As the winner, Conboy received an all-expenses paid trip for two to Nashville, Tenn., next month to meet Taylor Swift and representatives from Swift’s label, Big Machine Records. Earlier this month, Conboy traveled to Nashville to record a demo in anticipation of the opportunity.

“It’s huge,” she said. “I’ve been trying to do this my whole life.”

Bay grad is making people laugh

Molly Fite loves to entertain people, and the former Vancouver resident hopes to make that a career. Fite, a 1999 Hudson’s Bay High School graduate, has been taking classes and performing at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre since 2004, first in New York City and now in Los Angeles.

The improvisational theater was started by comedians Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts, who perform as the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Fite, 28, hasn’t met Poehler, whom she calls “one of my heroes,” but has worked with Besser. Celebrities frequently stop by, and last month Fite had the opportunity to perform in front of actor/comedian Robin Williams.

“He happened to be there when my group was performing,” she said, adding that Williams guest hosted the evening and introduced her group. “It was just fun to meet him. I’d always loved him as a kid (from) ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ ‘Good Morning, Vietnam.’”

Fite has a master’s of fine arts in acting and is trying to launch her career. So far she’s appeared on the Travel Channel show “Haunted New England.” Improv Everywhere, a New York prank group she was part of, was featured on “This American Life.”

Currently, Fite is working on a one-woman show about her experience on a mission trip to Romania. She hopes to perform it this spring.

“It’s funny. It sounds serious, but it’s not.” she said.

Vancouver couple offer insights for step-families

When Gil and Brenda Stuart married, they created a new family with seven children.

They went in search of advice to help manage the challenges of remarrying along with raising their children from two previous marriages. The Vancouver couple attended a seminar given by Ron Deal, an author and therapist, and started practicing some of his ideas. But they discovered they were also coming up with strategies of their own for making a blended family work.

The Stuarts decided to share their insights at seminars. After giving seminars for about three years, Gil, 51, and Brenda, 50, this year published a book and workbook titled “Restored & Remarried.”

The couple — who have been married seven years and whose children range in age from 18 to 29 — held a book signing at Crown Book and Gift at the Westfield Vancouver mall last week. They will appear on the Georgene Rice radio show on Portland’s KPDQ 93.9-FM on Jan. 27.

The Stuarts describe themselves as a couple who have “dirt-under-the-fingernails experience.” They’ve learned that identifying some of the experiences couples face after remarrying helps with communication.

“We’re still living the step-family experience,” Brenda said. “It can work and it can work well.”

To learn more, visit restoredandremarried.com.