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Findlay teen's version of 'The Cup Song' goes viral

About Rick Wills
Kiersten Kelly Credit: Sergei Latachev

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Watch Kiersten Kelly perform “The Cup Song” at

By Rick Wills

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

Like most non-celebrities, Kiersten Kelly never expected her video to go viral.

By mid-week, at least 38,000 people had watched Kelly's version of “The Cup Song,” which she performed at her kitchen table, on Kelly's YouTube channel, and “likes” of it were propelling traffic on Facebook pages and other media sites. Kelly said her tracking of its hits and postings topped 380,000 as of yesterday afternoon, and her video has also appeared on TV and online media.

“I just put it on my YouTube (channel). I did not expect to get that big. It's really crazy,” said Kelly, 17, a junior at Lincoln Park School for the Performing Arts in Midland, Beaver County. She travels 90 minutes a day each way by bus to attend the school.

The song originally was performed by Anna Kendrick in “Pitch Perfect,” a 2012 film about an all-girl a capella singing group in a national competition. She sings while beating rhythm with her hands and banging a drinking cup on the table.

What puts a unique stamp on Kelly's performance — and likely attracted so many viewers — is that she's missing part of her right arm, from just below her elbow.

“I was born like that. I do everything everyone else does. I just do it differently,” Kelly said.

The aspiring singer, who plays the guitar, said she knows her shortened arm contributed to the video's popularity.

“A lot of people are saying it's because of my arm. That's obviously part of it. It surprises people that I can do it. But there are many people who say they did not notice the arm once I started singing,” she said.

Kelly lives with her mother, Myria Mehalich, and grandmother in Findlay. Her father, Adam Kelly, lives in Massachusetts.

Kelly began singing “ever since I could talk.” She has performed at the Lawrence County Fair and at Jergel's Rhythm Grille in Warrendale.

She participated in the Rocket to the Stars singing program in New Castle, the largest singing competition in Western Pennsylvania. That group sent her video to Ellen DeGeneres, whose television show often is a venue for unknown performers to gain notoriety.

“She is a very good vocalist. There are a lot of people who have their 15 minutes of fame on the Internet, and that's it. I'm hoping that is not the case here,” said Wade Sutton, news director of Froggy 95.1 in New Castle, a country music station, and the founder of Rocket to the Stars.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at



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