A Sept. 22 KidsPost article incorrectly said that music producer John Jennings has won a Grammy Award. (Published 9/23/04)

Dare to do the impossible,

Have courage to take a chance.

Why walk when you can soar?

Allow your soul to dance!

As Margot MacDonald dances across the stage, her right hand glides through the air, emphasizing the words as she sings. The songs are from her new CD, "Rising," a collection of pop, rock, folk, jazz and ballads. It's more than a 13-year-old's musical dream, or even an episode of "American Idol." Making music, she says, is her destiny.

"I don't need fame and fortune. But I am an artist and would like for my music to be heard," said Margot, an eighth-grader at Arlington's Kenmore Middle School. "My long-term goal is to be able to forge a career in this world of music. It's my passion and I can't imagine doing anything else."

Margot wrote her first full-length song, "Imagine There's a World," after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. She performed it with a children's choir in benefit shows for America's Fund for Afghan Children. First lady Laura Bush sent her a note of thanks.

Later songs also came from Margot's experiences and observations. Her songs include an appeal for peace, reviews of favorite poems and novels, a celebration of the pleasures of life and support for a friend overcoming leukemia.

Margot donates money and CDs to the Childhood Leukemia Foundation in her friend's honor.

Margot wrote her first lyrics in second grade -- for a nonmusical assignment. She also turned book reports into songs and thought up melodies for favorite poems. "Writing songs is like breathing to me," she said. "I have to do it. . . . It's how I deal with the ups and downs of life."

In 2000, Margot began taking piano lessons with singer-songwriter Lisa Reagan, who also helped Margot with her singing and songwriting. Reagan was so impressed with Margot's talent that she introduced her to John Jennings, a Grammy Award-winning music producer.

"The thing that really surprised and delighted me the most was the songwriting," said Jennings, who with Reagan plays all the instruments on the "Rising" CD. "I heard songs that a lot of people who are a good deal older than Margot would be very happy to have written. . . . As good as she is now, I wonder how good she's going to be."

Margot's CD release concert was held at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre. Along with Reagan, Margot's band included Jennings and other members of country star Mary Chapin Carpenter's band.

Now, Margot's thinking about doing another CD. "The songs on the album are from a pretty long time ago, in kid years. They were written when I was 11 and 12," she said. "I think my music has gotten more sophisticated and mature. And my voice sounds older. . . . It's gotten stronger and I can do more things with it now."

-- Scott Moore

Margot MacDonald will perform Oct. 16 at the Clarendon Day festival in Arlington and Oct. 17 at the Hungry for Music benefit at the American Legion hall in Arlington. For details: www.margotmacdonald.com.

Margot MacDonald recorded her CD at the studio of Grammy winner John Jennings.