At a time when people say that great music is dead, we find new artists that defy this apparent conventional wisdom. Phoebe Elliot is proof that pure music in America is thriving. Ms. Elliot is a recent winner of the 2014 Newsong Contest People’s Choice Award.
Ms. Elliot took time from her celebrations to talk with the Alvarez-Galloso News Hour. The rest is an evening that will be remembered.
1. How does it feel to win the 2014 Newsong Contest People’s Choice Award?
Incredible! It’s such an honor to be chosen as a NewSong finalist, and equally exciting to be the People’s Choice winner! I’m really excited to play Lincoln Center- what an amazing opportunity!
2. “Beating Of the Heart” is one of my favorite songs. What inspired you to write and record such a masterpiece?
Glad you like it! I wrote that song a few years ago. I wanted to write something upbeat and fun, but also emotionally vulnerable and honest. I definitely have a hard time exposing that side of myself- the side that opens up to a crush about the way I feel about him – and putting myself out there. So it was the juxtaposition of how I feel in that situation and how I act or pretend to feel towards that person. “I try to hide it, at least disguise it” and act cool, but my heart is pounding so loudly it’s like it’s going to fall out of my chest, and what then?!? It was somewhat therapeutic to turn those feelings into an upbeat love song that people can connect with and sing along. Even when it’s something positive, like falling in love, it can be daunting and somewhat overwhelming to confront and share those feelings.
3. What inspired you to become a singer songwriter?
I wrote my first song at 15, and before then I learned to play piano by ear. I remember singing along to Disney songs as a kid and making up songs in the shower, or the kitchen, or in the car.. It felt natural and it became a release. Finally I started writing the lyrics down and pairing them with what I came up with on the piano. I always had trouble expressing my feelings through conversation and speech, but through melody and poetry, music gave me the outlet to do that and it became not only something I enjoyed doing, but a necessary form of communication between me and the world. I suddenly felt like I could express myself in a true and genuine way, and nothing and no one could stop me.
4. What does Phoebe Elliot offer to the world in music that is different from that in mainstream?
That’s a great question, and a challenging one to answer!
Every artist has a unique voice and therefore, can offer something special to the world. We all have our own experiences and stories to tell, and no one is alike. That’s the beauty of a voice and a song, and even a particular arrangement or recording of that song. It’s all a form of expression and given that there are so many factors, it is it’s own musical thumbprint. Luckily, music allows an artist like myself to communicate my story in a universal format.. and bridges the gap between my experiences and someone else’s, and there is a connection that is again, unlike any other. A special and intimate connection between my song and the listener. So in that sense, every artist offers something unique.
5. Who were your musical idols and what did you learn from their music in order to form your own style?
When I was younger, I was fascinated with Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows. I would play August and Everything After over and over again and listen carefully to his lyrics. He had such an interesting and poetic way of telling a story. I tried to emulate that when I started writing. I pulled inspiration from his imagery. I learned a lot from studying his poetry. I also loved Sarah McLachlan because of her captivating voice and the way she captured a feeling through a song. Her melodies resonated with me.
When I was a teenager, I fell in love with Jazz and the vocal stylings of singers like Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, and Diana Krall. Listening to these singers taught me that there were no limitations when it came to the voice.
I’ve been inspired and influenced by many artists including Carole King, Marvin Gaye, Taylor Swift, Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams, Elton John, Coldplay, Gavin DeGraw, Aretha Franklin… the list goes on and on.
6. What is your advice to people who want a career in music?
Go for it. And be true to yourself.. don’t try to fit into anyone else’s idea of what you should be.. just do your thing, and the rest will eventually fall into place.
7. When will you perform in Florida?
8. Where can people buy “Beating of the Heart”?
9. What is your message to the world and our readers.
Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, and believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. And do everything with love.
My thanks to you Phoebe and my best wishes to you.