By Vince Chiarelli
Olivia Dvorak’s next concert is at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 12, at Concerts On The Creek, part of the Spring Creek UCC summer concert series, 4500 Spring Creek Road, Rockford. Olivia’s URL is http://www.oliviadvorak.com/. Visit http://www.springcreekucc.org/ or phone (815) 979-1949 if you have questions about Dvorak’s July 12 concert. Following is a recent Q & A with Dvorak.
Q: When did you start playing music?
A: I have been exposed to music throughout my life because my parents are both musicians. I started out playing classical piano for six years with my mom as my teacher, and once I decided that I hated practicing everything “hands separately,” I switched to guitar and fell in love with it.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professional performer?
A: There was a time in high school when I specifically told my parents that I had no desire to become the next “Taylor Swift.” Writing songs was my passion, but until I got through my first year of college, I never thought that I would be pursuing a career as a professional artist.
My perspective on life completely changed when I went to a Keith Urban concert. I was floored by the way that one person could touch a stadium of thousands of people with a 3-minute song, and I realized that I wanted to use my gifts in the same way.
Q: What musical styles and musicians influenced you most?
A: People will ask me all the time, “Do you know who ‘so and so’ is?” and I usually have no idea, because I didn’t grow up on mainstream music. My parents love Celtic music and introduced me to the show Riverdance, so that style naturally comes out in my music. Later on, I connected with country artists such as Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and other artists who had stories behind their songs. I like to incorporate blues, folk and even gospel flairs into my style as well to keep my music fresh and unique.
Q: Do you enjoy composing as much as performing?
A: I enjoy both composing and performing for different reasons. I love being able to create, but I also find connecting with an audience and individual people through a song I wrote just as rewarding.
Q: Do you prefer performing your own music to performing arrangements of songs by other artists?
A: Definitely. My own songs have my own life story, so of course I find that more fun to play. Still, I do have covers that I absolutely love to perform live as well.
Q: Of all the gigs you have played, which one is your favorite?
A: Well, on Feb. 11, I played a show at the District, and I met this really cool sound engineer who did a killer job at running my show. Consequently, he turned out to be the man I fell in love with, so I guess I don’t have to worry about which sound engineer to take on tour with me. The most unexpected things happen at my shows.
Q: Any funny stories about gigs that didn’t work out, hecklers, equipment failures, etc.?
A: Every gig for me is an equipment failure if I have anything to do with it. I am not the most technologically savvy person! This one time I completely forgot the lyrics to my own song, and I had to stop the whole thing … and it was really embarrassing.
Q: You’ve had considerable success at this early stage of your musical career. What advice do you have for other young musicians?
A: The only reason I have been successful outside of talent is being driven and having the mindset to work hard every day towards my goal. My advice to any young musician would be to keep your creativity flowing at all times, and don’t be scared to be vulnerable with yourself and other people. Part of being an artist is being willing to share the parts of your heart that most people don’t always get to see, through a melody, lyrics or whatever instrument you play.
Q: You’re quite a guitar player in addition to being a gifted singer. How did you learn to do that?
A: My background in piano definitely helped me pick up the guitar fairly quickly, but I honestly had such a fantastic guitar teacher. Mark Reed is the best.
Q: What are your interests outside of music?
A: I have grown to like motorcycles a lot. I love to go on rides, especially in groups. I grew up riding horses, so I guess motorcycles are the next step up. Both help me to let go and stop thinking about everything that goes on in my life.
Q: What music do you listen to for entertainment?
A: Of course, I listen to country, but I don’t really have a favorite style. I try to listen to a lot of different genres, and I like all of them for different reasons.
From the July 9-15, 2014, issue