With the release of her new album, this is a very exciting time for singer/songwriter Olivia Kellman. Born and raised in Chicago, Olivia had a love for music from the start. Many of her fondest memories growing up involve music in some way or another and her debut album “On My Way” tells her story in a creative and artful way. Each song on this album relays a different story or message that is sure to strike a chord in every listener. Getting the chance to sit down with Olivia and talk about her music career and her new album illustrates just how much drive and determination it takes to pursue one’s passion for music, and luckily Olivia has plenty of both.

When and why did you start playing? I started playing guitar when I was a freshman in college. I chose to go to the University of Dayton because of the guitar classes that were offered there. I got my first guitar in 8th grade and taught myself how to play. I stopped playing for a bit in high school but started back up again in college.

Which instruments do you play? I play guitar.

What was the first song(s) you learned? The first song I learned was an Eric Clapton song in college. The first song what really stuck with me and made me want to pursue music was “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele.

Is your family musical? My brother and I play guitar and he loves music too. My father managed Minnie Ripteron, Dave Mason and Flora Purim in the 1970’s, which is where my love of music came from. I used to go into his CD collection and explore all the various genres he had in his collection. My dad says he has an ear for music and I think that’s where I get mine from. My mom loves 70s and 80s music and my dad’s favorites are the Beatles, the Rolling stones, and The Who.

Which famous musicians do you admire? Why? The Beatles are one of my favorite music groups. I listened to them all the time when I was little and still do today. I also acquire lots of inspiration from 90s music and well as my favorite musicians such as Pink, Demi Lovato, and Adele. Something I admire about Adele is that she writes her own music and she always sticks by her songs. She expresses her life through her songs and people relate to them. I used to write songs when I was little because I loved that songs can help people relate to each other. If something happens to you, there’s always a song to guide you in that moment. When words fail us, music is always there.

Who was your first teacher that inspired you? Ms. Secker was my Learning Resource Center teacher in high school. She helped me find the person I am today. Mr. McClutchen was the first person to teach me guitar and Rich Mathews currently teaches me guitar. Teachers are so important people in our lives because they really care about people becoming who they want to be in life.

What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town? The first time I went on stage was for a play was in the 1st grade. It was my turn to go on, and I remember the lights shining down on my head and how amazing it felt, it was like nothing else I had ever felt before. I felt like I belonged on stage. In the 2nd grade, I remember I was in my living room watching the music show “All That” when backstreet boys came on. My jaw dropped and I immediately became amazed by how good their voices were. I was mesmerized.  The extent of their fame was extremely inspiring to me. Another music memory of mine is when I was learning how to ride her bike. I fell when my mom let go of the seat and became so angry that I stormed into the house and locked my bedroom door behind me. I put on music and became soothed immediately. The music helped me let go of my frustration and escape.

Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s? Since I was a freshman in High school, I have considered “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield as my most inspirational song. It’s something all my friends know me for. Every musician has their own style. You don’t have to be like anyone else. Seeing different musicians perform just proves how you can be amazing in different ways.

Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV? I performed in cafes in college and I will be doing gigs in the coming months with a band I formed. I love how it feels to perform with a group in public.

Do you get nervous before a performance? Yes, I think everyone gets a little nervous. I think if it’s something you care about it, you’re going to get nerves. Practice is the only way to appease these nerves.

What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous? Nerves can drive you forward. Practice a lot and know that you are prepared. Nerves just mean that you really want it. Just get up there and do it. When it’s over, you will feel so accomplished.

Do you attend sessions? What makes a good session? I practice by myself doing vocal exercises. When I practice with the band, we go over mistakes and keep on practicing until we get it right. Practice is so important. It doesn’t make you perfect, it just makes you better. Even the greats of music need to practice.

How do you balance your music with other obligations – relationships, friends, job? I always make sure to plan ahead for practices. Keeping a schedule allows me to plan for times with friends and maintain a social life. Since music is my work, I think it’s so important to keep balance with work and life so I don’t start resenting it. My friends and family are all very supportive too.

Check out Olivia on SoundCloud or at her website oliviakellman.com.