September 8, 2021

Meet Kaley Corinaldi! MCA Denver's 2021 Failure Scholarship Recipient

Tai Bickham


The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver Failure Scholarship awards over $20,000 in college scholarships to a Colorado high school senior who demonstrates and embraces the spirit of creative risk-taking in the pursuit of something new. While so much of student life is focused on achievement, MCA Denver believes that in order to create something original and authentic, it is necessary to risk failure. 

This year’s recipient of the Failure Scholarship goes to Kaley Corinaldi, from Colorado Springs, CO. A talented singer/songwriter, Kaley - who performs as KCori - embodies what it means to take risks for creative self expression. I emailed Kaley to learn more about her, what the future holds and what failure means to her.

headshot of Kaley
Photo by bkm_photo

Hi Kaley! How have you been doing? 

Hello Tai! I have been doing wonderful! I just started my first year of college and I am so ecstatic to continue growing as an artist at my university. I will admit, it is difficult to balance writing music and homework but I always find ways to implement writing music in my daily schedule. I truly couldn’t live without song writing. 

Congratulations on being the 2021 recipient of the Failure Scholarship! Why did you feel it was important to share your song “17” for your creative project? 

Thank you! I was honestly so surprised and excited I was informed that I was the 2021 recipient of the Failure Scholarship. At the beginning when I was reading the requirements and the description of the scholarship, I knew that 17 was the perfect fit. 17 encompasses my struggles as a growing teen and how I failed to uphold respect for myself and others. It was so important to write and share this song because not only was it therapeutic to write, but I felt as though others could relate to the mistakes I’ve made. It is important to not feel alone in this world or feel like you are the only one struggling. So, my music, and 17 especially, exists to make sure people who are feeling alone or hopeless can feel hopeful and less alone in their times of struggle. We are truly all in this together.

screenshot of soundcloud audio for "17"

Do you find songwriting/composing music allows you to be expressive in a different way than communicating your feelings (emotions) verbally or through other forms of art? How are vulnerability and failure connected?

That is such a great question! I danced ballet for six years. During those six years, dancing was the only outlet that I used to express my feelings. The movement and tedious work helped me express myself and my emotions that I wasn't comfortable sharing verbally. When I quit ballet in January of 2020, I felt so lost. I didn’t know how to properly express how I was feeling. I would keep my emotions locked tight inside my mind until one day I exploded. I would start crying or grow to become angry over any minor inconvenience because I couldn’t properly manage my emotions. But, when I started writing music I felt like me again. I felt the creative freedom to poetically and melodically express myself and my experiences. Songwriting helped me realize that as an artist, artistic expression is one of the only ways I feel comfortable expressing myself. I feel free enough to be vulnerable with my music. I think in order to embrace your failure and understand the wrong that you might have done, you have to be vulnerable and honest with yourself and others. 

Why is failure important? Why do you think we, as a society, view failure with a negative connotation and not as a means of learning and expanding?

Failure is important because one can learn so many things by making mistakes. While you might be failing yourself, or even a class, it is how you bounce back from that and the solutions you learn to prevent failing a second time, that matters. I believe, as a society, we view failure with a negative connotation because failing can be scary and disappointing at times. People don’t train for months in the Olympics just to lose or fail. Most people’s goals are to succeed, not fail. But, since most people tend to focus on the negative connotations of failure, we tend to miss the important lessons to learn and important aspects that you can learn about yourself. So when you fail it is so important to look at the positives, be honest with yourself and why you failed, and what you can do differently next time.

Who/What influences your creative practice? 

This is such a hard question to answer because I listen to so many artists and I truly have a unique taste in music. I listen to a little bit of everything. That is why my sound and the singles I release all sound so different. People who have been following me for a little bit know that every release is so unique and different from the previous ones. So, you can’t really expect or predict what my music will sound like because all my songs are so unique from previous songs I have released and written. That is why my EP is entitled ‘ARRAY’. There are a variety of sounds and emotions tied into each song. My EP truly features a variety of music.

Your EP, Array, comes out soon! How was the process of putting this together? 

Yes it is! I am so excited! The process of putting together this mini album was quite unexpected. I was expecting to put out a few singles here and there during this point in my career. So, to put together an entire EP full of songs I am incredibly proud of is truly a dream come true. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to share my music and my art. I wish that everyone could have a platform to share their art and creativity. I understand that I can’t take these opportunities for granted and I hope that my music and being a Black woman in this industry will inspire other Black girls and boys to not feel ashamed of their art or second guess their different ways of expression. It is so important that everyone has a space to feel truly comfortable to express themselves in. So, I hope that this EP can help inspire others to try something new and put themselves out there.

photo of kaley looking off camera in a hazey brown and golden tone to photo
Photo by bkm_photo

If you had to describe your sound as a flavor of ice cream, what would it be and why? 

Hmmmm what an interesting question. I would have to say any swirl of flavors. So, chocolate and vanilla swirl or even a cone with different ice cream scoop flavors. My sound is not consistent. It is inconsistent and unpredictable. One day my sound may start as R&B and then my next song is indie pop rock. It is a mix of different sounds.

The future looks so beautiful and bright for you! What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? 

Thank you, Tai! I am actually very scared of what the future holds. Being in the music industry is quite tricky because your path is never set in stone, I have to create my own path as an independent artist. There is no one helping me or willing to get me far other than my manager (my mom). I am truly excited to release more music. I have so many songs I want to release and record. I am looking forward to promoting my EP the rest of the year and continuing to grow as an artist and experiencing all parts of life. That includes embracing failure and continuing my growth as a human and an artist.

Watch Kaley perform Don't and discuss her win of the Failure Scholarship.


Applications for the 2022 Failure Scholarship will begin later this year. To learn more, click here.