Alyssa Marella placed in an international vocal competition
By Jill Keppeler
Alyssa Marella has been singing since she was old enough to talk. Come December, the North Tonawanda girl will perform in one of the country's most prestigious venues: New York City's Carnegie Hall.
Alyssa, 10, a student at Ohio Elementary School, and her parents, Michelle and Michael Marella, recently learned that she was one of the second-place finishers in the young singers category of the American Protégé international vocal competition, one of only 22 students to place internationally. This earned her the right to perform in December at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.
Alyssa said she's not nervous.
"I get more nervous when I'm standing in front of a little group," she said with a smile, during an interview in her family's home in North Tonawanda.
Alyssa has been taking lessons from Matt's Music in North Tonawanda for about three years. She started with piano lessons - but then instructor Zach Carr heard her sing one day.
"She sang a song at piano lessons," he recalled. "I said, 'She's got an incredible voice.' "
Michelle Marella said her oldest daughter "is a girl with huge dreams."
"She's always loved to sing," she said. "Her preschool teacher was the first to say, 'She can really hold a tune.' But we didn't think anything about it then.
"She's always liked to perform. She likes to be at the center."
Alyssa has performed with In Good Company Productions summer shows in the Tonawandas and competed in other local talent shows. (She also plans to audition Saturday for the Erie County Fair talent show.)
After Michelle Marella found out about the American Protégé competitions (which also have other categories such as piano and strings, and woodwinds and brass), the family submitted videos of Alyssa performing "Castle on a Cloud" from "Les Miserables" and "Colors of the Wind" from Disney's "Pocahontas."
She'll perform the latter in December at Carnegie Hall.
Carr, who is a member of the a cappella group Buffalo Chips, performed at Carnegie Hall himself about five years ago as part of Manhattan Choral Productions. He said one of Alyssa's strengths is her ability to perform in different genres.
"We've done an eclectic group of music," he said.
For her part, Alyssa said she enjoys singing pop, Disney and Broadway songs. Someday, she'd like to make performing a career.
"I want to sing," she said. "And I want to be a vet. That's my backup, just if I don't go anywhere with singing. I like animals."
Michelle Marella credited Carr as a "great mentor" and Matt's Music, where Alyssa's sisters, Abigail, 8, and Anna, 4, also take classes in piano and singing, respectively.
"It's a family affair," she said.