We had the good fortune of connecting with AVE and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi AVE, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
For much of my life I’ve been very career driven. The discipline began with dance as I was on a competitive team beginning at just ten years old. Classes were every day after school and rehearsals, competitions and performances took up the weekends. But I never wanted it any other way. Missing out on social events didn’t bother me, but as I got to about fifteen I was starting to wonder how I could balance singing and dancing. I remember coming home from dance company rehearsal on Fridays and declining invites to the movies or sleepovers to write songs or beg my dad to take me to a karaoke night somewhere in town. It was then that my parents encouraged me to pick one or the other for a more healthy balance of my time. I continued dance classes but decided to leave the company in order to have weekends for gigging. By the time I was a senior in high school I had played 40 shows in the NYC area.
Since then, a few more factors have entered the arena making balance just a little more challenging! As I juggle college, playing shows, co-writes and dance classes I practice two things daily.
First, I obey my body. I’ve become good at recognizing signs of burnout and I have go-to methods for prevention and recovery. Second, I remember that “life is the cigarette, art is the ash”. I need to try new things, meet people, socialize and live a rich life to stimulate creativity and inspiration.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My passion for performing and the arts began as little as I can remember. Dance recitals, bedroom concerts and made up songs were common. At eleven, I began guitar and vocal lessons as well as competitive dance. In middle school I used the spring musicals as an excuse to get on a stage and in high school I was performing in “Illusion” — an annual pop concert that showcased ten student singers and 20 student band members. Then I began gigging solo – just me, my guitar and I – around town until I graduated high school and went on to attend Belmont University. Which brings me to where I am now: a graduating Music Business student writing songs to raise awareness for social issues.
After a #MeToo experience a few years back, I had new creative purpose. I wanted to tackle the tough topics that deserve to be talked about through song. Last year, I released my first songs regarding my experience and the feedback I got was astonishing. Listeners were sharing their stories with me, supporting each other on my social media platforms and reminding me how much my music resonated with them every single day. This was my confirmation that I had found my calling.
So I’m excited to announce that my first full length album will be released in 2022. The music on this record will allow me to be a voice for those without one. I’m really, really looking forward to this project.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to Tracy, a dear friend of mine who has always believed in me and my dreams. As a childhood best friend of my mom’s, the friendship is so unique and special to me. I remember the first time Tracy heard me sing. I was twelve and she insisted on having a “jam session” which I didn’t know at the time was going to be our version of co-writing. Weekends at Tracy’s became frequent, fun adventures. I’d show up with nothing but a guitar on my back and a binder full of songs bigger than my head. I’d plop myself on her kitchen barstools and sing her every song I wrote that week while she made us tea and snacks.
At one weekend jam session Tracy said, “Guess what? We are going to book you your first gig today.” We got in the car and drove to a local cafe where she told me to ask the manager if I could sing for everyone sitting for lunch. Before I knew it, I was playing frequent gigs there and just about anywhere in the NYC area that would let me.
Today, jam sessions are a little less frequent now that I’m in music city. But I truly don’t think I would’ve made it to Nashville if it hadn’t been for Tracy. From day one, she believed in me. Through good songs and bad. I’m so thankful for her support, encouragement and love.
Jonathan Sommer Tabitha Marshall