The New York Songwriter’s Circle Hosts Yet Another Epic Young Performer’s Night!
The New York Singer Songwriter’s Circle hosted yet another awesome Young Performer’s Night last Monday evening. Renowned vocal coach and singer-songwriter Tina Shafer hosted the event, showcasing some of the nation’s finest young talent at the legendary Bitter End in the West Village. Tina’s vocal and musical expertise has guided greats such as Lana Del Ray and Avril Lavigne, while the Bitter End has seen the likes of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. The night was filled with a sense of continued legacy, as today’s burgeoning voices prepared to enter the stream of tomorrow’s pop music.
Tina kicked off the night with a beautiful piano piece. Composed by Tina and her fellow collaborator Phoebe Snow, the piece was nuanced and intricate; piano arpeggios weaved in and out of a delicate yet momentous chord structure. Tina’s sonorous voice projected sensitively and effortlessly into the crowd; her lyrics foreshadowed performances to come: “then rise up and take command, they’ll hear you above the band” – words of wisdom for future lead singers!
First to take the stage was the adorable Annie Huffiness, performing “I know things now” from “Into the Woods”. Donning a red hooded sweatshirt in the guise of Little Red Riding Hood, she breezed through her melodic madrigal with confidence and zest. Occasional snickers punctuated her charming show as she lightened the hearts of the crowd while displaying her vocal gifts.
Shortly after we heard from Jenna Curry, who played “Sell your Soul” – an original composition performed on piano. Jenna wielded a breathy, pastoral vocal while her song transported us to the expansive scapes of the open road. Her lyrics were defiant though for a good cause, she pleaded: “take that cigarette out your mouth and sell your soul to someone else.” The song had an ascending and beautiful chorus that was not so easily forgotten.
Ella Bruck switched effortlessly between her lower voice and head voice, a technique surely perfected through Tina’s guidance, while the young Sophia Hoh masterfully navigated Pink’s “Glitter” – a stunningly complex melody for a singer her age. The tonal subtleties and nuances were a breeze for this Sophia, who articulated every note without a hitch – be sure to keep your ears open for this young diva!
Julia Vasan’s rendition of “Imagine” was a welcome enchantment. The crowd sat in pensive reflection as she performed the song openly and honestly. Nicole Nimroody followed up with her original song “Night” on piano. Her voice was notably resonant, with a subtle and winding melody as she lamented: “I took a bite but you swallowed me” – bemoaning the severities of young love.
Olivia Goldfinger sung “Michelle”, delivering it with confidence in both French and English. Her voice billowed openly through the melody and put the crowd gently at ease.
For a change of pace, we had our first male singer who also played guitar. William Sassower played “Love Yourself” by Ed Sheeren and Justin Bieber. His guitar playing was percussive and engaging, and he sung with a honeyed and sensitive tenor. In classic teen rebellion he demanded: “If you like the way you look so much; you should go and love yourself.” The crowd was won-over by his passionate guitar strummings and his unique stage presence.
The night continued on with young performers singing well beyond their years. While Phoebe Davis sung with lucid tones and an expansive range, Nate Collins brought to life the encapsulating poetry of Connor Oberst with “Landlocked Blues”. The operatic and R&B stylings of Leyla Blue struck a soulful tone within her original composition “Let Me Be”, while Jackie Marchal – “the oldest of Tina’s young students” performed a wonderfully melancholic and sultry original number called “Slow” with a momentous and dramatic key change in the bridge. Jackie’s influence called upon Lana Del Rey, with a cello-laced backing track and sensitive production that made for a heightened experience.
Ushering in the final phase of the night’s performances was Charlotte Wolf, who performed another musical narrative that was highly theatrical. Her performance was high strung, electric and well acted for a girl her age. Isabelle Carvahlo, the vocal wonder who stole the show last year, performed “Stay” by Rihanna and Mickey Echo. I especially enjoy the charisma with which she sings – gesticulating her arms for dramatic effect. This girl has immense performance potential and intuitively understands how to connect with an audience.
Gabriel Scotto, in the midst of her High School Junior year, shared a vulnerable and reflective number, chronicling the questions that lay before her: “all the uncertainty is killing me”; while proposing an insightful solution: “take a deep breath and think about what’s next.”
Closing the show were two final acts. Tina’s son Ari first took to the stage, with acoustic guitar in hand and fresh out of his spring semester. Since last year his voice has matured – harnessing sweeter, stronger and more resonant tones. The fingerpicked verse gave way to a cascading chorus melody in his original song “Sick” where he mused: “And now I wonder why, I start to break down inside.” The effect was tangible.
The final act, siblings Isabelle and Theo Rogers, were passionately unified as they performed a lesser-known Adele song. Theo played guitar while Isabelle sung the lead. Most memorable was Isabelle’s heartfelt vibrato and the seamlessness of their harmonizing together. Her voice was billowy, at ease, while still retaining its electric fervor.
The level of vocal performance for kids and teens of this age is a spectacle to behold. It’s enchanting to hear young voices sing with such honesty and clarity of purpose, both in singing their songs and the songs of others. The legacy of Bitter End founder Kenny Gorka lives on, as Tina Shafer upholds an artistic tradition that will inspire youth for years to come.
A list of the evening’s performers:
1. Anne Huffiness “I know things now” (Into the Woods)
2. Jenna Curry (Taylor guitar winner) “Sell your soul” (Original)
3. Ella Bruck “Put the Gun Down” (ZZ Ward)
4. Sophia Hoh “Glitter” (Pink)
5. Julia Vasan “Imagine” (The Beatles)
6. Nicole Nimroody “Night” (Original)
7. Olivia Goldfinger “Michelle” (The Beatles)
8. William Sassower “Love Yourself” (Ed Sheeran and Justin Beiber)
9. Phoebe Davis “Two Birds” (Regina Spector)
10. Nate Collins Landlocked Blues (Connor OBerst)
11. Leyla Blue “Let Me Be” (Original)
12. Jackie Marchal “Slow” (Original song, with background production of her own)
13. Charlotte Wolf “One Perfect Moment” (Bring it on)
14. Isabela Carvalho “Stay” (Rihanna)
15. Gabriella Scotto ” I Don’t Know” (original song)
16. Ari Zizzo “Sick” (Original Song)
17. Isabelle Rogers and Theo Rogers “I found a Boy” (Adele)
Be sure to catch the Young Performer’s Night next year and tune into other New York Songwriter’s Circle events at the Bitter End here: http://www.songwriters-circle.com/annual-young-performers-night-april-4th-7-9pm-at-the-bitter-end/