Salayah wins chance to mentor under Nova

A young musician learnt she hit the right note yesterday when her second shot at a music competition won her a professional recording session with singing star Heather Nova.

Salayah Stange, 15, from Devonshire, also won $500 and a spot in the opening act of a future event after she was named the winner of the second annual Heather Nova Singer/Songwriter Competition.

She said: “I’m definitely looking forward to getting feedback on my songs and also how to get out of the writer’s block that I sometimes may feel.

“I’m a big fan of Heather Nova’s music and I like her style, so I think that guidance from her would be especially helpful and insightful.”

Salayah, a Bermuda High School pupil, said that she was motivated to re-enter the songwriting competition after her first attempt last year landed her in second place.

She added that the competition, held by the Bermuda Festival for the Performing Arts, was her way of receiving feedback for her work.

Salayah explained: “I always liked music and listening to and singing songs, so eventually I started writing my own.

“I just saw this opportunity to send it out and have someone else listen to it.”

She added: “I never thought that I could actually win it, but it was good to see what other people thought of what I made.”

Salayah said that she had been playing piano and guitar for about five years and had experimented with the ukulele and drums. She added that she had been writing songs “on and off” for about a year.

Salayah explained that much of her inspiration came from her personal experiences.

She added: “When it comes to music, I like the way you can express so many emotions and themes.

“No matter who you are, you can make something beautiful out of it.

“I can get nervous, but there’s also a certain rush that comes from performing in front of an audience and it’s kind of exhilarating.

“That kind of helps you push through your nerves — if not use your nerves — to perform even better.”

Ms Nova said: “Although there were some very talented entrants, Salayah stood out as having exceptional talent in her songwriting, both melodically and lyrically, as well as having a beautiful and expressive singing voice and playing both piano and guitar.

“I look forward to mentoring her and helping her develop her natural talent.”

She added that other participants in the competition will receive an hour of one-on-one coaching and feedback from her.

Ms Nova explained that they can attend a date and venue, which will be chosen in the near future, to help develop their songwriting and performance skills.

A Bermuda Festival spokeswoman said that Salayah will play as part of an opening act for an event set to take place next year.

She added that Ms Nova will arrange a date with the young musician to record a song at Just Platinum Studios on Church Street, Hamilton.