Tuesday, June 12, 2012
... with a few years experience, Abby is ready to take her music to another level and a new audience. She is ready to perform in public.
HALLSVILLE A shy, seemingly unassuming 15-year-old girl, Abby Stanley, at first appearance, doesn’t look at all to me like a singer or a songwriter. But I learned a long time ago that a person’s looks can sometimes be deceiving, and this was certainly one of those moments. Within ten minutes after walking into my studio with a guitar case, any doubt that I might have had was gone.
Abby spent the early years of her childhood in Fort Worth. When she was 11 years old, her parents decided to escape the big city life of the Metroplex and move to Longview – the place where her mother was born and raised. Now, as a ninth grader at Hallsville Junior High and a member of the school choir, Abby’s world revolves around music despite the fact that her love for music began only a few years ago. She gives her grandmother the credit for igniting that passion when she presented her with her first guitar as a Christmas gift.
With a love of word and song in place, the guitar was the final piece of the puzzle that allowed it to all come together for her. The guitar brought the melodies from inside her head to something she and others could actually hear. When she was only 12 years old, her uncle asked her to write a song for him. The song, her first complete one, was entitled “Coming Home” and about family. When listening to the song which describes how “you can always come home” to your loved ones, I am quickly reminded that she is quiet and soft-spoken without any trace of that “look at me” attitude that can be seen in young people who are regarded with talent.
Abby has been taking guitar lessons for three years. She just recently received her third guitar, an acoustic Takamine. She revealed to me that while she doesn’t time herself, she plays her guitar for about two hours every day. As for songwriting, Abby keeps a small stack of notebooks and binders. Within those pages are a little over 100 songs that she has written over the past few years. She opened her guitar case and showed me one of them. Worn and creased, the binder held within it page after page of words, notes, scribbles and mark-outs with each section becoming a new song.
About a year and a half ago, Abby went into the studio and professionally recorded two of her songs. She made the CD for her own benefit and only had enough copies made to give to friends and family. While proud of the work she did on the CD, she says that she wishes she had waited. “My voice has changed; I have changed; my music has changed,” she says. She is quite critical of her early work. But now, with a few years experience, Abby is ready to take her music to another level and a new audience. She is ready to perform in public.
“I’ve only been on stage three times,” Abby says and quickly points out that, “I’m still learning about the ins and outs of show business.” She understands and believes that her personal success in music will not be defined by fame. “My goal is not to become famous, but I want this to be the rest of my life.” While she claims not to have stage fright, she says that she doesn’t really understand all of it. She writes songs and sings them for friends and family but has never dealt with the business side of the business. “I don’t have a manager or anything and don’t really know what to do,” she says with a smile. Last year she met Shelby Downing, a talented and well-respected singer and songwriter. With Downing’s help, Abby hopes to soon start performing publicly.
When I asked her about her future plans, she is still unsure of the specifics. She wants to continue with her music and certainly sees a music degree in her future. About the performance side of her art, she says, “I want people to like my music.” But there is no denying her love of what she does when she says, “I want to teach music to little kids.”
Abby Stanley is young and talented. She is well-grounded, and if she continues this journey, I’m guessing that we will be hearing from her again in years to come. She is fortunate to be surrounded by a family who loves her. She smiles proudly when saying, “My family is very supportive of my dreams and goals.” It was interesting to find out that she doesn’t actually come from a musical family. Quite the opposite, actually. Abby, as one of a set of triplets, has two brothers. I asked her if they played musical instruments. She said “No, they just play golf.” Smart, talented and a sense of humor!