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When I was five, I told my dad, “When I sing, I feel like I’m flying.” I guess that self-expression has always been a part of me – through my childhood I made paper ship sculptures and dragon masks, and designed whole worlds populated by imaginary creatures. I’d always been surrounded by music – my grandpa is a folk singer, and my parents played me everything from Bach to John Coltrane growing up. I was in the San Francisco Boys Chorus for nine years, singing in six San Francisco Opera productions as well as for millions of waving paper flags in the 2009 Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

In the midst of my adolescence, I found solace in music. My teacher, Doug Goodkin, introduced me to jazz, which answered my desire for exploration, and I began writing songs after picking up a ukulele in seventh grade, giving voice to my desire to connect.

 

Over the past year, that love of music has begun transforming into a career. In April 2014, my friend Sidney Hirschman flew me to LA to record a duet, and there, I met Mark Mazzetti, who produced my debut EP, Jump. Over the next few months, Mark and I Skyped twice a week, and he exposed me to Stevie Wonder, Elton John, James Taylor, and many other inspiring artists, pushing me to write more personal and nuanced songs and to tell stories from multiple angles. In January 2015, we had decided on five songs to record, and I launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, reaching out to friends, family, and strangers alike. While one of the most stressful months of my life, it succeeded and we began work on the record.

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At the same time as I was recording Jump, I was also recognized as a Finalist by the National YoungArts Foundation, was one of eight singers in the country to participate in the Grammy Camp Jazz Session Jazz Choir, and placed Top 10 in Michael Feinstein’s Great American Songbook competition. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind, pulling me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to bare my soul onstage.

So here I am. I just finished my debut EP, the first major step in my career, and I’m rehearsing with my trio to play shows in the Bay Area and gather a fanbase. It’s terrifying and invigorating. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, experimenting with tone poems and disjointed, funky grooves, falling in and out of love, and starting to think about college. This is the first jump of many, but music has helped me give voice to my doubts and my dreams, helping me find meaning and clarity amid the confusion. I hope it can do the same for others.