If you watched this year’s Grammy Awards, you witnessed stunning (and sometimes head-scratching) fashion, inspiring performances and another Kanye moment to discuss around the water cooler. What you missed, however, were the performances by members of the Grammy Alumni Band throughout the week leading up to the award show. Among the performers opening for nominee Hunter Hayes was Evanston’s own Ava Suppelsa, who was invited to join the alumni group after participating in Grammy Camp this past summer.
This Grammy-worthy experience wasn’t Suppelsa’s first major musical accomplishment. She was also one of around 170 finalists chosen from thousands of applicants to attend National YoungArts Week in January. The program, put on by the National YoungArts Foundation, gave Suppelsa the opportunity to work with artists and songwriters like Josh Groban, Chris Young and Desmond Child.
“It was just incredible…the opportunities to be there and to meet all these other kids who are so talented,” Suppelsa says.
The 17-year-old says singing has always been her main passion, but she also took piano lessons around age six and later taught herself how to play guitar. She then quickly started to write her own music and had her first performance as a singer/songwriter at age 13.
Although her writing process can vary, Suppelsa always tries to make her music personal. She’s inspired by James Taylor and John Mayer, and has been told she reminds people of Colbie Caillat.
“I think the thing I love most about songwriting is the self-expression that comes with it. It’s a way of getting my emotions out on paper or expressing how I feel about something, so it’s really an emotional release, which is what I love about it, as well as being able to write something that other people can relate to.”
Suppelsa has continued to develop her songwriting skills as a student at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. She says that being surrounded by such talented peers is motivating and her songwriting has grown with the instruction of her teachers.
“Honestly, it’s changed my perspective on music and it’s really changed my life as an artist. I completely love it. Being surrounded by other people who are just as like-minded as me and have the same goals as me is amazing. Every day you learn something new and get a little better.”
Just like most high school seniors around the country, Suppelsa is in the midst of applying to colleges, but she is also currently working on producing and recording an EP that is scheduled to release on iTunes this summer. To stay up-to-date on Suppelsa’s career, follow her on Facebook, or listen to her music on SoundCloud.