“If there’s one thing I know, it’s music,” Keenen said. “I've never been afraid of the spotlight.”
The 21-year-old Cleveland native was raised by a musically-inclined family and began singing in church at the age of three, his small hands trying their best to hold on to a microphone made for an adult. Eighteen years later, he is about to head for the West Coast in hopes that he will soon be touring and singing on much larger stages.
Keenen graduated from Walker Valley High School and decided to continue his education at Cleveland State Community College. In college, he found the encouragement he needed to apply to a music production school in California.
During his time at Cleveland State, he joined Vocal Rhapsody, one of the college's vocal music groups. Keenen said the group's director, Karen Dale, was instrumental in encouraging him to apply to another music program for after he had completed his associate's degree in music.
Representatives from the Young Americans College of the Performing Arts in Corona, Ca. visited Cleveland to host some workshops at Cleveland State, and Keenen attended it with his younger sister, Victoria Lattimore.
“When I saw it, I knew it had to be good for him,” said Victoria, a freshman at Walker Valley.
With the encouragement of Dale and Victoria, he applied and was accepted to the college. This fall, he will be moving to Corona to study music, dance, acting and other subjects to earn a certificate in performance as well as his second associate's degree. The college emphasizes preparing students to be live performers, and that is what Keenen wants to be—a performer.
“I'm looking for experience,” Keenen said. “I want to travel the world and make people happy with my music.”
His dream job is to be a touring recording artist, and he could have the opportunity to perform as part of tours to countries like Japan and New Zealand with other students at his new college. Before earning his music degree at Cleveland State, he had been a music lover from the time he was a child. Keenen enjoys writing his own songs whenever he can, and he said he always has a song in his head.
“I think so much music that ideas are always in my head,” Keenen said. “I don’t try to force anything. I let it come to me.”
Keenen said he had at one point struggled "to not be lazy" after graduating from high school. He was not sure what we wanted to do, so he got a job at a fast food restaurant to make a living. He realized that he did not want to be doing the same job forever, so he decided to start going to college as well so he could make music more than just something he did in his free time.
Now, he has a mission—to make music and travel the world sharing it with those around him. Keenen said he wants to be known as “a true music lover who got out of here to do what he wanted to do.” He wants to inspire.
As he gets ready to move to the other side of the country this fall, Keenen is beginning to take stock of the life he's had in Cleveland and anticipate what his new life in California will bring.
“Since this is probably my last summer in Cleveland, I want to enjoy it,” Keenen said.
He hopes to spend most of his free time this summer with friends and family as he prepares to attend college out of state for the first time.
“I'll definitely miss him,” Victoria said. “But I know it's a good opportunity.”
Keenen thanks God for his successes so far and is also thankful for the support he has received from Victoria, his mother, Shona McBee, and from Dale and her husband. He is excited for the new opportunities he will get to take this fall and thinks everyone should take his advice to find out what they enjoy doing and work to perfect whatever it is they do.
“Pursue a life of greatness,” Keenen said. “Don't just settle. If you do, you'll be mad at yourself for the rest of your life.”