Archive | October, 2012

Botti grabs his dreams by the horns

29 Oct

Chris Botti

BY JESSICA A. BOTELHO

After recently wrapping up a six-week tour with legendary entertainer Barbara Streisand, Grammy-nominated trumpeter Chris Botti, the world’s best selling jazz instrumentalist, will be taking the stage at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center this Sunday, Nov. 4th.

For Botti, performing in the area is exciting. In 2009, he recorded a DVD, “Live in Boston,” which he thinks helped him generate New England fans.

“It’s become one of the most successful parts of my touring world, so we love coming up there,” he said. “That upper part of the United States is a really good market for me, so we visit there quite often.”

The set will include singer Lisa Fischer, who has been gigging with The Rolling Stones for the last two decades. Not only will the show incorporate jazz to the mix, it will feature other genres, as well.

“If anything has defined my touring in the last three or four years it is the ability to go from a really traditional jazz piece, to a more orchestral piece, to a classical piece, to an R&B song and do it with real authority,” said Botti. “We have incredible musicians in the band and hopefully people will walk away from the show entertained and musically lifted, but also seeing something that they can’t see around the block from some other band.”

Botti plans to perform songs from his latest album, “Impressions,” which features an all-star list of artists, including Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock, David Foster, Caroline Campbell and Mark Knopfler.

Having Knopfler, best known as the singer and guitarist of the rock band Dire Straits, appear on the album was a pleasant surprise, said Botti. Knopfler agreed to sing, “What a Wonderful World” for the album. He rarely sings songs written by other writers.

“I was quite shocked,” Botti said. “That collaboration was sort of put together out of a fluke.”
Botti explained that his manager is a good friend of Knopfler, and as the two were taking a stroll in London’s Hyde Park one day, Knopfler suggested that Botti remake the classic tune.

“It was kind of his idea,” said Botti. “I probably would never have tried to enter into that Louie Armstrong territory of music had it not been for Mark. We went back to him and said, ‘Are you serious?’”

Knopfler was serious, and ended up teaming up with Botti to record the song. Botti said Knofpler’s unique voice makes the track work as well as it does.

“He almost speaks the song as much as he sings it,” said Botti. “And it was done all in one take. In the day and age of people having computers, multiple takes, Auto-Tune and this that and the other thing, one of the stipulations Mark made was that he would do it if we came to London and record it with his band. We did three takes and the second one is the one you hear. We wanted to give it authenticity.”

Having Hancock join him on the album was another treat. The two partnered musically in the past, as they once performed together at the White House for Presidents Obama, Clinton, Carter, plus the president of China, as well as their spouses.

“It was big deal for me – it was sort of nerve-wracking, but it was fun,” Botti said of the first time he played at the White House. He later performed there again when George W. Bush was in office. “There I was playing with Herbie Hancock, which, in a weird way, was even more of a thrill than to play for the politicians.”

He and Hancock played “My Funny Valentine,” a hit that inspired Botti to learn trumpet.

“That’s the song that made me want to become a trumpet player,” said Botti. “I heard it on a record player. It was the first time I ever heard Miles Davis and it just knocked me back. I just thought, ‘I want to be a trumpet player for the rest of my life.’”

To be clear, Botti started playing trumpet when he was nine-years-old after seeing Carl Hilding “Doc” Severinse, the original trumpet player on The Tonight Show. But when he was 12 or 13, he heard Davis for the first time and connected with the instrument on a more emotional level.

“I was always enamored with the sound and flavor of the dark, pretty sound Miles Davis made with his horn,” he said.

As an attempt to sound as much like his hero as possible, Botti plays on the same make that Davis plays on – a Martin Committee large bore trumpet made in 1939. He also uses a No. 3 silver-plated mouthpiece from Bach, which was crafted in 1926.

“They stopped making them years ago and I just believe that the new horns haven’t aged yet and don’t have the same sort of sound,” he said. “Someone gave me this horn to try out about 12 or 13 years ago and I played two notes on it and was like, ‘This is amazing.’ It’s a very unique sound and I’ve blessed to have run across it. It’s been a fantastic friendship ever since.”

Another friendship Botti holds near and dear to his heart is with Sting, now a solo artist who became famous by fronting the band The Police. He credits Sting with helping him establish a career.

“I never would have had a career had it not been for my ongoing, close friendship with Sting,” he said. “He has really helped me in every possible way. The relationship goes well beyond music. Meeting him and working with him and having it blossom into a deep friendship is something that I look at as the greatest thing that’s happened to me. He became family in many ways.”

Yet, Botti has made quite the name for himself in his own right. While his success came later in his life, he tours incessantly to keep fans interested.

“They are what it’s all about,” he said.

All too often, Botti said, he has witnessed artists reach the pinnacle of success and then lose it simply because they became disengaged. That’s not an option for him.

“You need to care about your audience and whether they are getting music that they love,” said Botti. “A lot of artists, especially those in their 20s, say, ‘Oh, the road is too difficult. I’m going to take four years off.’ And then their audience goes, ‘Goodbye.’ I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to be able to tour well into my 60s or 70s if I can still play the horn.”

To do that, he said, an artist must be willing to make sacrifices.  It isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it.

“You have to sacrifice a lot of life for the benefits of being able to walk on stage every night and be grateful that there is an audience there for you because they can just as easily spend their money and go download the latest and greatest thing and not come to your show,” said Botti. “That’s something that I’m well aware of.”

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center’s box office is located at 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford, Mass. Box Office Hours: M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before each performance. For more information, visit www.zeiterion.org or call 508-994-2900.

“We look forward to the show,” Botti said. “It’s going to be a great one.”

Fall & Bounce to open for Zebra at the Rock Junction

22 Oct

Fall and Bounce

BY JESSICA A. BOTELHO

“We’re very excited to open for Zebra,” said Malyssa BellaRosa, vocalist for the Providence-based band Fall & Bounce. “We can’t wait.”

Bassist Christine Hauck agrees.

“We’re thrilled to be on this double bill,” she said.

The quartet will be kicking off the night for Zebra this Friday, Oct. 26, at the Rock Junction in Coventry, R.I. The show starts at 8 p.m.

“I saw them when I was 15 and I was really into Led Zeppelin,” said BellaRosa. “I was blown away because they did Led Zeppelin songs at the old Living Room [in Providence].”

As they did at that show, Zebra will also be performing Zeppelin songs Friday, as well as tunes from their own catalog, including their biggest hits, “Tell Me What You Want” and “Who’s Behind the Door?”

But what does Fall & Ball have in store for fans?

“A very passionate performance,” said BellaRosa.

Passion is exactly what keeps them going. Formed in the summer of 2011 after BellaRosa met guitarist Bill Reed at an open mic night, they decided to get together and experiment. They landed a gig almost immediately, yet didn’t have a full line-up.

“It forced us to make a band,” said Reed.

Shortly after, they hooked up with Hauck and drummer Jamie Craighead. In a year’s time, they were named the 2012 “Breakthrough Act” by the Providence Phoenix, and were nominated in three categories for the 2012 Limelight Magazine Music Awards, including “New Artist of the Year,”  “Song of the Year” for “Controlled Tension Time Bomb,” and “Female Vocalist of the Year.”

Another local publication also nominated them for “Breakthrough Band,” with BellaRosa earning a “Best Vocalist” nomination.

“It’s definitely an honor to be nominated for several different awards in a matter of being a band for less than a year,” said Craighead. “It’s a great feeling.”

Reed shared his sentiments. He said it’s nice to be noticed.

“We’re doing what we enjoy and setting ourselves up to keep doing it,” said Reed. “Sometimes, you don’t realize people are paying attention. Providence has been very supportive and it is very encouraging, not just for us, but for other folks who are getting nominated.”

While they blend a lot of genres, they said it’s difficult to describe their sound. Still, Hauck said she often tells people they can be best defined as a hard, melodic rock group.

“The most important thing is that we get people to listen,” she said.

Reed added, “To me, it sounds like 70s rock.”

BellaRosa said they are honest in what they do and aren’t pretending or trying to sound like other bands. She views their music as a means to connect with people.

“People use music for cathartic reasons – they use it to get through life, which can be difficult,” she said. “When you hear a band and you can relate to the music, it really does set you free. It sounds like a cliché, but it helps you get thorough the next thing in life.”

Since they’ve established themselves in Rhode Island, Fall & Bounce are working on booking gigs throughout New England. They’re also writing music for a new and third album, which they hope to begin recording in December.

It will follow their self-titled release in 2011 and Knickknack Avalanche, which they released in May. Typically, Reed comes up with chord progressions and brings them to the rest of the band.

“We have a bunch of music that we are firming up right now,” BellaRosa said. “Most of the songs come really easy and lyrics come out in one shot. And then there are others that I’ve rewritten five times. It’s kind of a labor of love. I love it though, because it’s a challenge.”

When they are not composing new music, they’re rehearsing or performing. For Craighead, playing live is the best part of being in the band.

“It’s such a feeling of release and emotion,” he said. “When I get onstage and play for people, it’s fun. It just makes me feel alive and playing with these fine people is one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I’ve played music for a majority of my life, but I’ve had an absolute blast with these guys.”

“When you’re in a room with people and you can get reactions from them and you know you’re connecting it does make you feel alive,” agreed BellaRosa. “The blood in my body is like the live performance to my music.”

Hauck enjoys the fact that every performance is unique. She likes that they get to switch things up each time they play.

“We don’t necessarily play things the same way at every gig – Bill changes his solo, I change my bass line,” she said. “There’s always something else that happens.”

One thing that’s new for BellaRosa is the fact that she performs sans guitar. In bands she performed with before forming Fall & Bounce, she always played guitar in addition to singing.

“It’s been an interesting change up for me,” she said. “At first, it was really weird and that’s when I discovered my dance moves. I like it because I can dance to the music.”

In the future, they hope their holiday parties stay the same.

“We’re looking forward to our second ‘Festivus’ celebration this year,” Christine said of the fictional holiday made famous by the popular sitcom, Seinfeld. “Last year, we had a practice that ended up turning into a drunken Christmas party. I think we played two or three songs and ended up eating and drinking.”

For now, they’re looking forward to Friday night with Zebra.

“It’s going to be fun,” said Reed.

For tickets to the show, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/239202.

The Mystix and Liz Frame ready to play Blue Ocean Music Hall

15 Oct

The Mystix

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Jo Lily of the five-piece Americana Roots ensemble, The Mystix, said they are at an all-time career high. In May, they kicked-off their “Ramble Roots Tour” in support of their fourth studio album, “Mighty Tone,” and since then, everything has been going even better than they imagined.

“We’re achieving the highest level of success the band has ever gone through – we’ve sold out every single show,” he said of their 10-date national tour. “We brought in a phenomenal guy for the tour, Jerry Portnoy, who’s an iconic harp player. He played for Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton. He’s probably the best-known harp player in the world right now, expect for James Cotton. He brings a lot to the show.”

Additionally, guitarist and singer/songwriter Ricky “King” Russell, who has performed with acts such as David “Honey Boy” Edwards, John Lee Hooker, Duke Robillard, Roomful of Blues and James Montgomery, has been touring with them. He opened for Steve Miller last August and has been featured on House of Blues Radio Hour, hosted by actor Dan Akroyd.

With the star-studded line-up, Lily, guitarist and lead vocalist, hopes they also sell out their next performance, which will take place Oct. 27th at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, Mass. Opening the night will be Liz Frame and the Kickers, a female-driven band from the North Shore area.

Lily, as well as Frame, who handles lead vocals and guitar for her band, have never gigged at the venue. Both bands can’t wait to play there.

“I’m looking forward to playing it,” Frame said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Lily shares her sentiments.

“It’s a great club and we’re thrilled to be playing there with Liz,” he said. “I think she’s going to be a really strong addition for the show and I think she’ll bring in a lot of her own fans because she’s very strong in the area. She’s really a good friend of ours. We have gigged together in the past, sung duets together, we’re friends, and I have a lot of respect for her songwriting and performing.”

For Frame, the feeling is mutual. Not only is she excited to play the venue, she’s pleased to share the bill with The Mystix.

“They are a great band to work with,” she said. “I’ve done a little bit of stuff with them before as a solo performer and I know Jo really well. He’s a good guy and I’ve worked with a number of the musicians in the band in the studio, so I’m connected to them. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

During the show, The Mystix, comprised of an all-star veteran lineup of artists such as guitarist Bobby B. Keyes, drummer Marty Richards, bassist Marty Ballou, and keyboardist Tom West, will begin filming a live album. The recording will mark their fifth, as well as their first live release.

From there, Lily said they plan to visit Europe for a tour, and then hit the studio to master the live album, which will come out in the spring.

So, why has the band decided to tour Europe?

“We’re doing extremely well in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium, Holland, Germany, France, and we’re working on the U.K. right now,” Lily said. “We’re  planning on taking a trip to Europe probably next summer.”

Of course, they are fairing quite well in the U.S., too. “The Mighty Tone” has received airplay on American radio, particularly on Boston stations, including WUMB, among others.

Also, they’ll be featured on “The Loft,” a show that airs on SiriusXM Radio. Meg Griffin, a former New York radio disc jockey, will be conducting the interviewing.

Griffin plays The Mystix regularly on her show, said Lily, and has interviewed musicians like Mick Jagger and Paul Simon.

“She’s a legendary broadcaster,” said Lily, who noted Portnoy is scheduled to join them for the interview.

Recording for “The Loft,” which will highlight the history of the band, starts Oct. 29th and will be aired at least three times during the next few months. The band will be posting the dates on their website at themystix.com.

In similar fashion to The Mystix, Liz Frame and the Kickers also plan to release a live album, which Frame said she hopes will be available in early 2013. After that, they’ll embark on a mid-Atlantic tour.

Frame, who writes all the material, described their originals as “fun music that’s tightly written and very catchy.” She wrote her first song at the young age of nine during a long drive to the beach with her parents.

“It’s something that I feel I was born to do,” she said.

The band has an emphasis on vocals, often with two and three part harmonies. Frame shares vocals with band members Lynne Taylor, who plays upright bass, as well as Kristine Malpica, a percussionist. Guitarist Mark Toolan, drummer
Charlie Farr, and harmonica player Jason Novak join them in the band.

Frame said while they used to be more acoustic-based, they are a little more “hard-hitting” these days.

“I really like the direction it’s going,” she said. “People who go to our shows and have not seen us before will come up to me and tell me it doesn’t sound like original material, in that it sounds like covers they’ve just never heard. That is the best form of flattery because it means that we’re doing something right when it comes to the material.”

She is also happy with the direction her career as a musician is going. While she was offered record deals early on in her career, she turned them down to raise her daughter.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a natural decision to make because at the time she was young and I knew that I wasn’t going to sacrifice her childhood and time with her for a full-fledged career in music because I knew what that career would take and I didn’t have it in me,” said Frame. “I was OK with that and, looking back, I’m really glad that I made that decision because coming into music at this stage of my life I’m a much better performer than I’ve ever been. I’m much more confident and I’m a better songwriter. I feel as if I was meant to wait. I wouldn’t be having nearly as much fun if I did it back then.”

Moreover, she said she’s content that she waited because it’s much easier for artists to promote their music today. The Internet, she said, makes it simple for musicians to get their name out there.

“Now, you can put your stuff online,” said Frame. “That wasn’t the case 20 years ago.”

Either way, she said she enjoys being part of a band, as well as composing new material.

“I love the whole group effort and the people I work with are great,” she said. “And performing live is the ultimate thing.”

Lily feels the same.

“I love the music and the feeling we get when we connect with an audience,” he said. “It’s intoxicating and impossible to put it down. I love the camaraderie of the band. It’s the best I’ve ever had in any group. We have a warmth and camaraderie that I’ve never experienced in all my years of playing and it’s been really special for everybody.”

To purchase tickets to the show call 978-462-5888 or visit northshorepavillion.com.

For more information about The Mystix visit themystix.com. Additional information on Liz Frame and the Kickers is at lizframeandthekickers.com. Both bands have fan pages on Facebook, as well.

Zebra bringing over 37 years of entertainment to R.I.

13 Oct

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Hard rock trio, ZEBRA, will be playing at the Rock Junction in Coventry, R.I., on Oct. 26th at 8 p.m. for a special show by Limelight Magazine publisher JKB Booking. Joined by local rockers Fall and Bounce, who will be opening the evening, ZEBRA will perform hits from their own catalog, plus a one-hour Led Zeppelin encore set. It will be their only New England appearance.

“We don’t play up there a lot to begin with – maybe once every couple years, but we do have a history in Rhode Island,” said vocalist and guitarist Randy Jackson. “We used to play at the Living Room in Providence a lot. That used to be a steady gig for us in the 80s and early 90s. We have a pretty good fan base there, so it’s always good to come down.”

Jackson, who formed ZEBRA in the mid-1970s with bassist Felix Hanemann and drummer Guy Gelso, said fans should expect to hear popular ZEBRA tracks, as well as Zeppelin classics, such as “Heartbreaker,” “The Immigrant Song,” and “Kashmir.”

“We used to do a lot of Led Zeppelin back when we first started in 1975 to 1979, so we have a pretty big repertoire to choose from,” Jackson said.

Since they’re performing music they’ve been playing for more than 35 years, they don’t rehearse often. That comes in handy, said Jackson, as the members of the band don’t live in the same state.

“Guy is back in New Orleans now, and Felix and I both live in Long Island,” he said. “If we rehearse at all it’s just at sound check because we’ve only been doing 10 to 20 shows a year.”

But that might change in the near future. In between gigs, the band is in the process of arranging new material, which they’d like to record soon.
“We hope to have it out if not this year, sometime next year,” he said. “I’ve got so many songs written and I want it to be different from everything we’ve done.”

Also, on Oct. 18th they will be inducted to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. While they originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, and were inducted to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010, Long Island is honoring them, too.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s nice that Long Island made an exception for us.”

Despite a brief hiatus in the early 1990s, the band has been together for 37 years. The “roughest” part, Jackson said, was the first five years.

“We were really active playing at clubs and partying too much, but it was a time when we probably would have broken up if we were going to,” he said. “We got through that and it’s been relatively smooth sailing for us. We’re all family and we’ve accepted everybody for who they are. Carrying on like that keeps any organization together and I think it’s really important for the fans to have the original band.”

Jackson mentioned that the members shared many of the same interests in music when they first formed and were heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Moody Blues and YES. The Beatles are also high on the list.

“I’m a big Beatles fan, and Felix is too, but he’s also a huge Rolling Stones fan,” said Jackson. “I like the Stones, but I wasn’t as familiar with them as Felix was. When Journey came out, Guy was a big fan; I was not. There are certainly differences among us, but enough similarities that are a big part of why we are still together after all this time.”

In addition to playing with ZEBRA, Jackson often performs solo acoustic gigs, as well as shows with symphony orchestras throughout the United States, doing arrangements of music by Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd and The Eagles, to name a few.

He began teaming up with the orchestras in 1996, when his now-late agent Jim McGinnis contacted and informed him that an East Coast promoter started a company that combined classic rock with an orchestra. The concept was to perform the music of one group at each show.

“They did a trial run of the show in Virginia Beach and wanted a different singer,” Jackson said. “I flew down to Virginia, met Brent Havens, the conductor, and we’ve been doing shows ever since.”

As noted, Jackson is a fan of The Beatles, and in the liner notes of the ZEBRA’s best of CD, he mentions that the first concert he ever saw was The Beatles at City Park Stadium in New Orleans in 1964. He was just nine-years-old at the time.

“It was like Christmas and Mardi Gras all rolled into one,” he said. “I love the music and I was so young that I didn’t really understand – I just knew it was exciting. It made a big impression on me.”

Jackson said that his neighborhood friend wanted to go to the show, too, but his parents didn’t take him to the show because they didn’t approve of The Beatles. Little did they know the band would be one of the most successful and influential acts of all time.

“I remember his mother saying years later, ‘That was one thing I’ll always regret,’” he said. “But that’s the kind of time it was. Like all other musical groups, parents are a little leery of them when they first come out.”

Speaking of The Beatles, Jackson played John Lennon’s Mellotron, an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard, for the ZEBRA song, “Who’s Behind the Door.” Jackson got the opportunity thanks to producer Jack Douglas, who produced ZEBRA’s first album, as well as Lennon’s final album, “Double Fantasy.”

“We were up at the record plant in New York where Lennon recorded the album and the Mellotron was still there,” Jackson said. “Jack brought it in and told me it was John’s, so sitting there planning Lennon’s Mellotron was kind of surreal for me. That’s what was great about recording with Jack. I got to hear a lot about my idols and people I looked up to from a guy who experienced it first hand.”

For tickets to the Oct. 26th show at The Rock Junction, visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/239202. Tickets are $25 in advance and $27 the day of the event.

For more information about ZEBRA, visit their website thedoor.com.

Teenager Alissa Musto gracefully juggles full schedule

3 Oct

Alissa Musto

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Whether she’s performing, composing, staring on a television show, serving as captain of her high school tennis team or practicing with the jazz band, Alissa Musto, 17, is happy.

“A lot of people ask me how I balance everything, but the truth is it’s really not that hard,” said Musto, a nominee for “Best Female Vocalist” in the 2011 Limelight Magazine Music Awards. “If you like the things you are doing, they don’t really become chores. They aren’t things that you have to do – they are things that you get to do and that makes it so much easier.”

Musto, who lives in Rehoboth, Mass., is a senior at Providence Country Day School in East Providence. Classically trained in piano, she recently landed a Saturday night residency at Scampi’s Restaurant in Portsmouth, R.I., where she performs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. each week.

She’s also putting together a new album, a follow-up to her self-titled, four-track E.P., which was released in May 2011. The E.P. featured “Doesn’t Matter,” the award-winning track that earned her a slot in the top three at the 2011 national Music On & Up Showcase grand finale.

“I have some originals that I’ve been working on, not only that I’ve written the words to, but the musical parts on the piano, too,” said Musto.

Additionally, Musto has been building her portfolio, as she’s played at venues such as Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and Hard Rock Café during the last year. While she’s undecided about what she wants to study, she’s thinking about going to college for music locally, and is interested in continuing to gig in the area post high school.

“I’m hoping that if I stay around here for college, I’ll still be able to play out on weekends,” she said. “I’ll be 18, so I’ll be able to play more venues.”

And the greatest thing about performing, said Musto, is the challenge. Having the support of fans doesn’t hurt, either.

“It’s not just representing the songs that I’m playing – it shows all the hard work and time that I’ve put into it, from the thought process of picking the songs, to the years of piano training that made it possible for me to learn those songs,” she said.  “Going up there and performing and knowing that people appreciate what you do means so much.”

In fact, Musto’s fans have publicly praised her skills in the comment sections of her YouTube videos. Some of her admirers describe her as a female Elton John and the next Debbie Harry (of Blondie).

“I can only hope and wish to achieve some of the success they have,” said Musto. “When people make comparisons from across the country or across the world, it means so much to me knowing that they think I have the potential to be great like them.”

But Musto doesn’t let the praise go to her head. Perhaps, she learned to be modest from her father, Billy Musto, a well-know local artist.

“He’s been in this area’s music scene for a long time and it’s amazing how humble he remains throughout the whole process,” she said. “We don’t go anywhere without somebody recognizing him.”

Aside from her dad, Musto cited Bruce Springsteen as one of her biggest influences. The most amazing thing about “The Boss,” she said, is his voice.

“He doesn’t exactly have this voice that a lot of people would think is great, but it fits with what he does and I feel like I’m the same way,” Musto said. “I don’t have this big, strong opera-like voice that a lot of these girl singers of today have, but I think I have a unique voice.”

Not only does Musto view him as a superb songwriter and musician, she loves his performances. In August, she got the opportunity to see him live for the first time.

“Just the way he can get a crowd going for four hours straight was just so amazing,” she said “He’s such a great entertainer. He’s the whole package – it’s not just one thing.”

Yet, considering Musto’s resume, she’s the total package, too. As noted, she’s very versatile, as she began taking piano lessons at age five. She also dabbles with the guitar and harmonica, and is able to juggle her music career with school, tennis, jazz band, and Teenage Critic, a culture and arts show for teens that airs on PBS.

“We cover all types of cool things that would appeal to teenagers,” said Musto. “We did the Limelight Magazine Music Awards, different cultural restaurants, art events. It’s helped me so much, not only with interviewing, but as a performer, too. It’s good to be well-rounded because you never know when other things will help you in life.”

In terms of TV exposure, NBC aired a special on Musto in 2004 as part of the “Spotlight on the Student Artist” series. The same year, when she was nine, she was featured on “America’s Most Talented Kids,” earning bragging rights of being the youngest performer to appear on the show.

“I didn’t have a lot of experience being in front of a camera at that age, but it was a really good experience and I think it helped me so much in moving forward,” said Musto. “I came back from that doing a lot of other local competitions.”

Some of the competitions include the “Kidz Star USA Talent Search,” which attracted more than 45,000 entries during Summer 2011. For this competition, she was selected as a top ten finalist.

Further, she won first place in the 12-and-under category at “New England Performs,” a festival in 2011 that showcased more than two hundred young artists from all six New England states.

Musto also competed and won other competitions, including “Rhode Island’s Got Talent” in 2008, “Talent Quest TV Show” in 2009, and was a runner-up in “Taunton’s Got Talent” in 2011. She performed on multiple New England-based shows including “The Rhode Show” and “Community Auditions: Star of the Day.”

In 2010, she was named “Piano Act of the Year” in the international “Golden Ribby Awards” sponsored by Wonderworld TV. She played live for an audience of more than 2,000 viewers.

The same year, she partnered with GreenSchools, a non-profit environmental organization, and earned the title of “Green Rocker Ambassador”, or spokesperson. Through the program, she is a featured performer at schools, fairs and other events throughout New England, with a main goal of raising awareness about the importance of being eco-friendly.

“I wrote a theme song for them that I performed at the [Massachusetts] State House [last year] and play at a lot of other functions they have to try to get the message out there for environment,” Musto said. She was also awarded a citation from the State of Massachusetts and House of Representatives for musical achievement and involvement in the community.

For a full list of Musto’s accomplishments, as well as more information, visit alissamusto.wix.com.

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