Teen Singer-Songwriter Alyssa Grace Proffitt Faces Her Struggles in Her Songs
At 13, Alyssa Grace Proffitt is already an accomplished songwriter and performer. But despite her young age, she’s not afraid to tackle heavy topics. Diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety as a child, she has used her personal battles as inspiration for some of her songs.
“It’s a little dark sometimes because some of the songs I write are about people going through struggles,” she observed. “I write about sad things that happen because they tell a story. But they are also hopefully inspiring and let others know they are not alone.”
She lived in Torrance, an oceanside city in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County before recently moving to Boise, Idaho, with her family, Spending her formative years in southern California had its influence, skateboarding, going to the beach, and hanging out in the endless summer and sunshine of the Golden State, but Proffitt is not someone bound by geographic identity. She’s traveled internationally to both Mexico and Brazil, and felt equally at home in Nashville, where she recently recorded her upcoming EP and performed at several venues in one of the country’s most vaunted music cities. She also plays acoustic guitar, which she progressed to after picking up a ukulele at a very young age. Proffitt shares her music, both originals and cover versions, on a variety of digital platforms, including her own YouTube channel, Spotify, and iTunes.
“When I was 10 I was in a singing competition and won a ukulele as a prize,” she recalled. “I went home that day and spent the whole day on YouTube teaching myself how to play. I started taking ukulele lessons and then moved on to guitar.” She cites Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, and Billie Eilish as her primary musical influences, but says her musical tastes usually lean toward country and soft rock. Yet listening to her sing and play, there is more than a glimmer of pop sensibility brightening her songs.
“I usually start with a melody in my head,” she explained, when asked about her creative process. “It’s mostly accidental. It just comes to me and I write it down and keep adding to it. As I go on, I start to add the meaning to the song, write more lyrics, and figure out a structure.” It was this path that led to her upcoming single “Breathe,” about her struggles with anxiety, that she performed in Nashville, “I’m fading with no clue/how do I stand tall/if I can’t get through it all/I need to breathe…” she sings in her ethereal yet strong voice that suggests a wisdom beyond her years.
“My mom says I started singing as soon as I could talk,” Proffitt explained. “We would sing nursery rhymes and lullabies.” At age five she discovered the music of Taylor Swift and found a kindred spirit. “I love that her songs are true and that she also tells a story. She gives positive messages about being yourself.” Yet, in a perfect world, her dream opening gig would be for Billie Eilish. “I love how free she is and I try to be the same way with my music, so I believe we would be a good match musically.”
Proffitt spends many hours a week on her music, balancing it with school and other obligations, something she has done for years. “I was in a performing arts school for two years so it was a part of my school day,” she said. “I have been in choir for three years now so I sing at least an hour a day. My teacher also taught us instrumental music and I was part of the after-school musical theater program too.” In addition to currently taking voice and guitar lessons, she said, “I also squeeze music in my free time. It’s usually not first, because there’s no deadline, like a school assignment, unless I have a performance coming up or I’m going to record. I even practice when I have my friends over; it’s part of our hanging out together sometimes, playing music and singing.”
She admits that sometimes her nerves get to her when she has to perform before a big audience, but she has developed her own coping mechanisms. “I listen to ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) sounds, which is like white noise, to try to distract myself before a performance,” she explained. “Usually I close my eyes and don’t think about it. Then on stage, I’ll try to interact with the audience first, so they’ll get pumped up and hopefully not notice I’m nervous.”
Proffitt’s youthful yet vulnerable exuberance projects sincerity and authenticity, both on and off stage. While her musical journey is still in its early stages, it’s already winning over audiences.