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I have a classic late bloomer story and it is still all unfolding now as I type this. I hope my story gives some insight into the things I write and sing about, and I hope you decide to come along with me for the ride.
I was born to this picturesque couple, Ken and Diane from Pennsylvania, which I can say the same about my childhood. I grew up with nature all around; a meadow to our right, a creek in the back yard and rolling hills. It’s these times when you’re outside all day, talking out loud to the trees and the animals, that you realize later they’ve shaped your entire outlook on life.
Every day was filled with romping through the mud, baking cookies, reading mystery novels, riding bikes, drawing chalk people, building something and knocking it down, raspberries on elbows and knees, making hangy things with beads and shoving them up your nose. I was also fortunate to grow up in the classic Disney videotape era, so at about 5 or 6, I began singing all the time.
It was my Italian grandfather that first suggested I could sing, although I was too terrified to sing for anyone so I’m not sure how he knew. He wished so badly for me to become a singer and I regret to say that he came to pass this life before I could show him that I overcame this fear. He would instead, help me purchase my first musical instrument, which was the viola, and encouraged music for me no matter what.
Skip ahead to 17 years old- I was in love for the first time, struggling with ADHD and having a hard time with social anxiety. I was partying too much, making dangerous choices and looking for answers, which was unassuming because I was always a good kid. I became a regular at the yoga studio near my high school to calm my mind and address my burning questions about the universe, god, and my life’s purpose... and slowly I came out of my shell. It’s like I woke up one day out of nowhere and decided that I wanted voice lessons. In the next six months, a ton of things happened.
My voice teacher discovered that I was hiding this huge operatic soprano somewhere inside of me and because of her, I am here writing my story. We’ve all had someone like that. Even though music always came natural to me, she saw that I was struggling in other ways and helped me greatly. She set up competitions, gigs in her church, collegiate auditions for vocal programs, anything she could think of to get me in front of people. In the blink of an eye, I somehow found myself with a bachelors of music, fronting a classic rock cover band, leading weekly spiritual “devi raves” in Kirtan sessions and singing three times a week in an 18-person competitive a cappella group. All of these people became my new family and sincerely I felt saved by music.
After graduation, I followed a lovely man to Washington DC and I started gigging as a professional singer. I met with a soulful-but-could-totally-shred guitarist (above on left) through a Craigslist ad, and our duo in one year’s time became Soul Kitchen Collective, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of band where none of us cared about bills yet and could just feel the music. It was in this group that I began writing songs, and learning how the process of a poetic idea unfolds into a verse, chorus, hook and repeat.
As the four of us gathered our best songs and began recording a demo, I approached producer Simon Rogers after hearing his work on an album for my previous a cappella group in college. I sent him a demo I wrote with one of my girlfriends, Erin McCullough, called “Closer To You.” He wanted to produce it. This would become my first single release as a solo artist. One year later, I would sign a shitty management deal and meet my collaborative partner and producer, Tim Sonnefeld and we would release my first album, Chasing Down the Dream. He had many thoughts about this record, which I get into later.
Now that I had an album full of songs that were my own, my bones were aching to get on the road. I wanted to perform and I wanted to tour. I wanted to be a gypsy.
But I didn’t have anyone knocking on my door asking me to go on tour. So I bought a 1965 Shasta, quit my job, sold all my furniture, took it across the country and I got what I wanted. I performed in 12 cities, and sold almost all my merch, and after it all ended, I landed in Hollywood.
My first year in this strange city had me topsy turvy. I met with every producer who would answer my email. I sang weird songs I’d never consider before, leading me to new experiences and heavily commercializing my music style.
It was at this time when I began writing and singing melodies for producers and DJs. I wrote songs for commercials, movies, and anyone who wanted me to record on a track. At this time, my photographer connected me with a DJ who was moving from Ibiza to Brazil, who wanted me to write songs for label, RV Records. Our first collaboration went straight to number one on Beatport, a large platform for dance music. We have collaborated on over four records and never met in person. Also during this time, I became a Grammy voting member and went to my first awards show. I also went to awards shows that turned out to be fake. It was all new to me, but one thing is for sure. I haven’t stopped writing and recording since setting foot here in La La Land.
The last and most recent part of my story jumps to one day in late Spring of this year, 2018. I was getting ready for my first show in Los Angeles when I realized that in all of the previous shows I’ve performed as a solo artist, I had been either sitting behind a piano or on a stool in front of a very polite audience and I was not fulfilled. There was a huge chunk of my soul missing in my music, which I had been repressing. Spirituality, sensuality, mystique, magic, curiosity and rock and roll. All the parts that left me wanting more from my classical training and always made sure that wherever I went and however happy I was, I never ever fit in. I was long denying the Jim Morrison who has been inside me since I was a kid. There’s definitely a 70 year old opera bitch in there too, and of course there’s still a Disney girl, but when I step on stage now, he takes over and I knew immediately that I needed to create a channel to let him out or I would fail my talent.
This is when I talk more about Tim Sonnefeld. To refresh, Tim and I met in 2014 and he helped me release my first record as mentioned above, but what I didn’t mention was that he was pushing me, challenging my growth, and developing my talent this entire time. That’s what a great producer does and it’s hardly ever talked about; it’s always behind the scenes between artist and producer.
So he looked at me, that one day in late Spring of 2018 outside of a Best Buy and said, are you ready?
And I said, yes. I’m delighted to introduce myself,
I Am SOLA.