Winner of the 2013 Wellesley Idol contest, Amy Rola’s bid to produce her first full-length album got a boost last month.The 17-year-old singer-songwriter from St. Agatha received a $3,500 grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund.
“This grant is certainly incredible,” Rola said. “I wouldn’t be able to do much more without it. I have six songs recorded right now and I am hoping to get four more done to finish my album and that is where the grant money will be going.”
A Grade 12 student in the arts program at Eastwood Collegiate Institute in Kitchener, Rola has spent much of the last year recording at the Sound Distillery Studio.
A talented country-pop musician who thrives behind both the piano and an acoustic guitar, Rola was one of 20 artists in the region who will receive some $120,000 this year from the arts fund.
Since 2002, the fund has provided $2,310,748 to 450 projects.
Applicants are selected through a rigorous process, enhanced this year with the inclusion of a peer assessment panel.
It was a lot of work just to put together the application, Rola said, but she is grateful for the support; recording time doesn’t come cheap.
Now, she has the shot in the arm to keep chasing her dream of a career in music.
“After graduation in the spring I plan on taking the next year off to really focus on music,” Rola explained. “I am really excited to put this album together.”
Rola got started early in music, when her mom – a classically trained pianist – signed her up for music lessons at the age of two.
Soon after, it became clear she had a gift.
“As soon as somebody played a song, like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle,’ I just knew how to play it,” Rola remembered. “I didn’t have to read the music; once somebody had shown me how to play it, I knew it.”
Like Jimi Hendrix, Rola plays by ear.
Whether she is playing piano or strumming on her guitar, the music has always seemed to just naturally flow out.
She started writing music early, and it quickly became her passion.
“It just kind of happens for me,” she said. “When I play piano, I’ll play random notes and they just seem to come together; it’s hard to explain.”
She’s written more than a hundred songs, but it’s hard to keep track because she doesn’t write them all down.
But now she is becoming more diligent, working to nail down the final four tracks for her album.
Still untitled, Rola describes the album’s theme as young love. The sound is a combination of country and pop – think a Canadian blend of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood and Adele – and will include a variety of heartbreak ballads and upbeat songs.
“I am working hard to write a few more tracks that will provide the album with a good mix of styles,” she said.
To check out Amy Rola’s music you can visit her website at www.amyrola.com or connect with her through Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.