Stories Behind the Storytellers: Julia Sommer

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On Wednesday, you learned about country rock singer-songwriter Paul Knakk, who will be opening for Candlebox’s Brian Quinn on Thursday at American Spirits Roadhouse. Now, meet Julia Sommer, a Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts student who will be adding her supreme vocal talents to the bill.

First, let’s start with the basics: What made you want to get into music?
For as long as I remember, music has always played in my house. Whether it was my mom, who used to work in the music industry, blasting her favorite songs on the stereo; or my dad, who’s been a musician since he was a teenager, singing and playing songs. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of being a “rock star.”

When did you know that you were going to treat music as a serious endeavor?
I was into soccer and horseback riding when I was younger. I thought I wanted to pursue soccer, but in middle school, something changed my path. I realized that I could express my emotions through music and writing songs. I found a way to connect with others on a personal level through my music, which is the greatest feeling. My parents took me to audition at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. They completely supported my wish to attend this performing arts school. I was accepted into the school as a vocal major, which has opened many doors of opportunities to better myself as a performer and a vocalist.

Your dad, Werner, is also an accomplished musician with whom you’ve shared the stage. Surely, he’s been a huge influence on you. How would you describe that relationship?
Yes, my dad has definitely been a huge inspiration! To me, my relationship with my dad is a very beautiful, father-daughter connection because not only do I get to do what I love by sharing my music with others, but I get to do what I love musically with my dad; my biggest inspiration. I love that he is always willing to help me, whether that be learning a new cover or helping me with my own songs. This is such a special bond that I will cherish forever.

Speaking of influences, what artists have inspired you?
I listen to many genres of music, but the bands and artists that have inspired me the most are Led Zeppelin, KT Tunstall, Pierce the Veil, and Halestorm.

You’ve had some cool opportunities at such a young age, including being chosen to audition for The Voice. Tell us more about that experience.
I am enrolled at the Easton School of Rock, which is where I found out about the auditions for The Voice. I had to send a video of myself singing and submit it to the website, but I didn’t bother doing so, because I didn’t think I would even have a chance to get an audition. A couple weeks later, I got an email from a producer asking what date I would be available to audition.

At first, I was very confused, because I didn’t remember sending anything in. Well, that was because my mom secretly submitted a video of me singing from a previous School of Rock show, and it got me a private audition in Philadelphia! I was so shocked, but also very happy and excited!

Literally, two days before my audition, I went to the doctor feeling terrible and finding out that I had the flu. The timing was terrible, but I knew I had to get through this audition. I did the best that I could despite being sick. I did not make it for that season’s show; however, they told me that they would be contacting me at a later date for a possible callback.

We left the studio, and I figured that would be the end of that experience. A few months later, a show producer contacted me for another callback. That audition date was in New York City. It went very well. Although I did not get a callback to go to Los Angeles, I am grateful for the experience and it taught me a great lesson – never give up on pursuing what makes you happy! Just pick yourself up and keep going forward. I would still consider auditioning again!

We hear you’re also planning on releasing some original music sometime next year. About how far along is the record?
I am thrilled to be working on an EP. I wrote some originals over the last two years. Currently, I am in the studio recording the first song. It’s a lot of work, but I have a lot of support. I am hoping to get this out in mid-2017.

What kind of material can people expect when the new EP hits?
I have been performing my originals acoustically. My songs are modern pop, but I am hoping to give these songs a rock edge.

You have a big opportunity coming up on December 1. You’ll be opening for Candlebox guitarist Brian Quinn alongside Zed D’Lance and Paul Knakk as part of American Spirits Roadhouse’s Acoustic Storytellers Night. How did this opportunity come together for you?
Chris Frycki had reached out and invited me to perform at Novemberfest, which was held at American Spirits Roadhouse. Chris reached out again and invited me to perform, opening for Brian Quinn. I look forward to sharing the same stage with such talent as Brian Quinn, Paul Knakk, and Zed D’Lance, and I am super excited to share my music!

What can we expect from your set on December 1?
I will be performing my originals, in addition to a few covers of some of my favorite artists. And perhaps, a duet with my Dad.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I will be performing with the School of Rock in January. We will be performing a two-hour show featuring Heart songs. In early 2017, I will be showcasing my originals at two music industry conferences. My Facebook page will have the upcoming dates and details.

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