Rocky Mount youth earns international accolade for music

Photo by STACEY HAIRSTON

Alice Black of Rocky Mount poses with her guitar and her most recent award, the Liz Masterson Crescendo Award, presented to her at the IWMA awards in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Alice Black, 14, of Rocky Mount was recently presented with the International Western Music Association’s Liz Masterson Crescendo Award.

The award, presented to Black in November in Albuquerque, New Mexico, recognizes her musical talents.

“It is a cumulative award for performance, radio airplay and visibility,” said Black’s mother, Aspen Black. “It’s for any youth who makes a big splash on the scene. And, you have to splash in a lot of areas to get noticed. Everything that she’s doing has led to this award.”

Black began singing when she was 3. She wrote her first song, “Colors,” at age 4 and performed it for her pre-K class at Sontag Elementary. Since then, she has continued to write songs and has perfected her guitar-playing skills.

Black sings at the 3rd Street Coffeehouse in Roanoke on Friday nights and performs her music in many states.

Black is also the recipient of the Richard Leigh Songwriting Award, presented annually in Abingdon.

The songwriting award was for “Town of Bodie,” a single from her first album, “The Yodeling Mule,” which she recorded in Nashville when she was 11.

“Town of Bodie” is about a town in California,” Black said. “It’s a ghost town now but, during its heyday, it was a populated and dangerous place, full of murder and crime. I decided to write about a little girl who was happy and not letting that bother her in the midst of all that danger. And that spoke to me.”

The young musician wrote “Town of Bodie” as she was traveling home from her first trip to the Richard Leigh Songwriting Contest. She had just won second place for the “Yodeling Mule” song.

“I wrote the ‘Town of Bodie’ and won first place for it the following year,” she said.

The Liz Masterson Crescendo Award is the biggest award Black has won so far, but she continues to grow, her mother said.

“I go to the convention every year,” Black said. “I love seeing a lot of the people I don’t usually get to see and I’ve made some great friends.”

Black’s exposure to the stage has also helped her overcome stage fright that she once experienced in her younger days.

“I’ve overcome that stage fright just by being on stage,” Black said.

In 2015, Black performed at the Durango Cowboy Poetry gathering in Colorado.

“It was my first major performance alone with no one on stage with me,” she said. “I also played at the 3rd Street open mic every Friday for months.”

“She really put in her time at open mic there,” Aspen Black said. “Then she went on to do a couple bigger open mics. She really had to grow. The first time, she could barely get any noise out of her mouth but, by the time she was done, we flew out to Durango, and she performed and did a great job. She really delivered.”

Black said she has plans to record a new album in Fort Worth.

“Sometimes I research song ideas and sometimes an emotion will spur me on to writing a song,” she said.

The next IWMA awards will be in held in May, and Black said she plans to enter two songs.

“One is about Romanian immigrants from the 19th century who were treated poorly and looked down upon,” she said. “They came to America thinking things would change, but it didn’t really happen that way. The song is called ‘Pasivitate,’ which means ‘Passivity’ in Romania.”

The other song, Black said, is titled “Drifter.”

“This one is a little more folky,” she said. “It’s about being in control of yourself and doing what you want. Being in touch with nature.”

“Alice just keeps growing,” Aspen Black said. “Even from just last year, her voice keeps changing and going through these transitions. She is gaining a much more mature and deeper sound.”

To follow Black’s musical journey, visit aliceblackmusician.com.



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