Walking past a guitar and having envisions of performing on stage started out as a dream for one 14-year-old girl. As most teen parents would assume, Amelia Conway’s parents thought that she was just going through a phase and did not take her seriously when she asked for a guitar.
“I saved $50 of my own money for a couple of months and bought that guitar,” Conway said. “It was one of those small First Act acoustic learning guitars.”
Determined to follow her dream of playing on a stage, Conway taught herself to play her newly purchased six-string. She had some musical knowledge from playing flute during her elementary school years and percussion in her middle and high school bands.
“I had been playing music for a while,” Conway said. “Because of that, I already knew a lot about notes and rhythm, which has really helped my strumming.”
Taking initiative, she went online and printed charts that demonstrated how to finger basic chords. Conway would spend hours practicing her finger placement and switched back and forth between the chords. Because her first guitar was “cheap,” she said that the strings were really far off the fret board which made it difficult for a young girl to play. It was also challenging and painful to develop the calluses on her hands because of those high strings. She battled to develop her hand muscles so she could properly finger bar chords such as B#m.
“In the end it helped me learn,” Conway said. “I’m [physically] much stronger now.”
After understanding the basics of playing the guitar, Conway put pen to paper and composed her own music. She drew musical inspiration from female acoustic artists such as Jennifer Knapp.
“In her music I can hear the emotion in what she says and how she plays the guitar,” Conway said. “That, to me, speaks volumes about how a real musician is. So I always keep this standard in the back of my mind when writing or performing. I want people to see and hear that what I’m playing is not just a song – it’s my life.”
Some of Conway’s songs deal with unfortunate life events. She tries finds the light in those situations and utilizes them to write powerful songs. Her lyrics do not reflect resentment or self pity. Conway’s focus leans more toward positivity and self progression.
“Some memories I have may not be pleasant [and] it’s not a good thing to not forgive,” Conway said. “You can’t heal without forgiveness. Live, learn, and go on.”
Writing and recording can be complicated for any new and emerging artist. Up until this point in her musical career, Conway believes that it has been her biggest obstacle.
“[It can be difficult] trying to figure out how to produce your own music and the legal issues behind it,” Conway said. “It’s really hard to get a good, quality sound from home studio equipment. And when it comes to making an album, it’s all about trying to figure out the specifics to copyrighting a song, image copyrighting for an album cover, and all the expenses behind that.”
Currently in her senior year of college and graduating with a degree in Paralegal Studies in May, taking her music on tour is far from her mind.
“I haven’t thought about touring because I’ve spent all my life in school,” Conway said. “However, with college graduation just around the corner, I have been thinking about moving to a bigger city and start playing some gigs at coffee shops and low-key joints to get a feel for touring.”
Although the 21-year-old wants to take her music to a higher level, she says that she is hesitant of signing with a label because she enjoys the freedom and control she has over her music.
“It’s really nice working on your own and making all the decisions, but having a record label help you reach a larger audience would be great,” Conway said. “I think the only doubt I’d have is that I don’t want to develop an attitude towards my music of it being something I have to do. I always want to say it’s something I get to do.”
For now, Conway is thoroughly enjoying singing and strumming on her guitar as a hobby instead of a profession. She is currently collaborating on a creative art project with a photographer.
“We have submitted our entry idea into a local art contest,” Conway said. “I take one of his photos and write a song about the meaning behind it. In return, he shoots a photo that represents one of my songs. It’s a really neat idea and if we are selected [his] photography and [my] music [from the project] will be displayed in the city’s art gallery.”
Other that writing and performing her own music, Conway enjoys hosting a radio show and working as a DJ at Morehead State radio. She informs listeners of the artists’ background of the songs she plays, lets them know about local show dates, takes song requests from callers and even interviews live musical guests. Conway first started as an assistant during her sophomore year of college and later learned how to run the broadcasting boards.
“I soon began working shifts on the air, announcing the weather, [reporting] public service announcements [and introducing] what show was coming up next,” Conway said. “Late 2009, the host of “American Crossroads” was getting ready to retire. The station manager approached me and asked if I would be interest in being one of the hosts for the show.
“Eagerly I accepted and have been hosting the show on Wednesday nights since August 2009,” Conway said. “I really love doing this show.”
In between college and “American Crossroads” Conway finds the time to produce her debut CD.
“I’m currently recording my first album which will include about eight songs,” Conway said. “I plan to have it completed by the beginning of spring.”
Fans and music lovers can look at her official website ameliaconway.tripod.com for album updates. Conway’s self-produced album can be pre-ordered there as well.
While awaiting the release of her album, Conway will continue to create music that her fans have responded positively to.
“Once I had someone tell me that listening to one of my songs was what they needed to hear,” Conway said. “Being able to write and play music that others can identify with is an amazing connection.”
Because Conway’s songs are very personal, she will continue to impress her fans with the honesty and passion she puts into her music.
Written By: Kimberly Gallagher