Angelina Valente – Interview – Thanks for Asking

Written by on January 15, 2024

Angelina Valente – Interview – Thanks for Asking – by Liam Sweeny.

I reached out to pianist and singer Angelina Valente. She told a tale of hope and overcoming fears. Join us; read along.

RRX: Every comic book hero has an origin story. What is your origin story? (points if you tell it like a comic book origin.)

AV: My origin story begins with a young girl in a crib. My mother always said, “You could sing before you could talk.” So noticing my musical tendencies, she put me in my local community theatre program to start doing musicals. And that lead to dance classes and piano lessons. In middle school I attempted to walk away from the piano lessons but she wouldn’t let me quit and so I stuck it out. When I got to high school, all of the older kids played instruments and because I stuck with my piano, I got to hang with them and make music in the school’s auditorium at all hours of the day. Leaving certain classes and staying late after school to meet up with people or play all on my own.

Then, I attended Rider University to study Musical Theatre and came in contact with a few villains who tried to knock me down. But instead, I began to write my own music. Spending all of my spare moments in the practice rooms crying about boys and writing songs that made me feel less like I was failing at the whole theatre thing and more like I had finally found my true calling. The rest – as they say – is history.

RRX: Every performer’s first song is a milestone. But so is the latest song. Describe the first song/album you recorded, and also the latest song/album you recorded; what are the differences?

AV: The first album I recorded (EP I should say) was right out of college, 9 years ago, with a professor who luckily saw so much more in me than I could see in myself. He was a touring/session drummer with a lot of very famous people and took the time to help me hone my skills. He had a friend who had a studio and we holed ourselves up in there during the summer after my senior year and we recorded three songs that I can’t listen to much anymore because I sound like such a baby and have grown so much since then. But I hold that time dear to my heart. I think my body knew I was in the right place before my brain did.

The latest album I recorded, my first full length, was just done this past summer/fall. We did most of it live, everyone in the same room at the same time and I love that because I feel like it just captured our year so well. The musicians on this record are so killer and really made it all that it is. I’m so grateful to them and I can’t believe how well it came out. But give it 9 years and I’m sure I won’t be able to listen to this one either.

RRX: Like songs, every performer has a unique feeling about their first show. What was your first show like? Was it your best show? If not, what was your best show like?

AV: My first shows were me basically blacking out. Even at open mics, I would step up to the piano, sweating, so nervous I couldn’t feel my legs. Then I wouldn’t remember a thing I said or sang, I’d step off the stage and come back into my body thinking, I can’t keep doing this.

It just took time, slowly got more comfortable being on stage and singing my songs. My best shows are when I’m most present. When I can feel my legs (even if I still sweat and get super nervous) and I can connect with the audience and the band and make music. Real, present, heartfelt music.

RRX: Music genres are difficult for some performers. Some strictly adhere; others not so much. What is your perspective on the genre you play, or the genres you hover around?

AV: I like to hover around genres. When I first started making music, it was very sad-songs-with-a-piano-girl music. This last record feels very Americana to me? A lot lighter. But the music I’m writing most recently has a little more flare to it. I’m very lucky to have a voice that can do a lot so I’d love to be able to create music that allows me to do all that I can with it.

RRX: It’s a lot of fun living in the present, but we all collect memories and give birth to dreams. We’re talking dreams here. Where you see yourself next year? In the next five years?

AV: The next year. I’d just like to keep growing. Keep going. Let the road take me where it leads. That kind of thing. Next five years? Ten years? I’d like to be a full-time touring musician. My ultimate goal is to be able to travel across the country and sell out small(ish) clubs but still be able to go to the grocery store and not be bombarded by people. I like picking my own produce.

RRX: We all get a little support from those around us. And we also can be impressed by our fellow performers. Who do you admire in your community, and why?

AV: Geez. There are so many people I admire. The first one that pops into my head is Rick Sleeper over at The Cock ’n Bull. He’s making a place for music there like none I’ve ever seen. I think I’ve been spoiled by it actually. Every time I leave that place after a show, my heart and belly are equally full and I have leftovers to take home.

He believed in me long before lots of other people around here did. He put me on stages in front of audiences I probably wasn’t quite ready for yet. But he made me believe I could do it. He put a seed in my head that made me realize this is what I want to do and these are the rooms I want to play and the people I want to play for. I want to step off stage and chat with each person and sit by a warm fire and laugh until 3 am. It’s the real deal and so is he. I wouldn’t be here without him and that room.



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