Edmonton-born Alyssa Reid, who currently resides just outside of Toronto, has all the tools for success. At just 18 years old she has a top single in Canada with Alone Again and released her debut album The Game on June 21st. As part of a cross Canada tour she returns home to Alberta, performing on the Coke Stage at the Calgary Stampede, July 11th, and opening for Natasha Beddingfield on the EdFest stage at Edmonton’s Capital Ex, July 22nd.
Reid’s early exposure to the music industry came through YTV’s reality show The Next Star. I recently had the misfortune of taking a friend to the Calgary auditions for the show, a nightmare that echoed Reid’s experience.
"It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. The auditioning process and getting to the show was a lot more fun than actually being on the show. I wouldn’t say it prepared me for the future, when I actually got into the industry and had a song out it was completely different. It was very different than what I expected it to be."
So she went another route. YouTube has become a way for singers like Greyson Chance and Winnipeg’s Maria Aragon, among others, to get noticed. Such was the case with Reid, who re-wrote Justin Bieber’s One Less Lonely Girl from a female perspective. One More Lonely Boy has received over a quarter of a million views, and stirred up some angry Bieber fans.
"Right now YouTube is one of the best outlets for putting your talent out there and getting a fan base. It is the number one video streaming site and there are millions of people on that site every day. So it is an amazing opportunity for people to put their talent out there whether it’s film-making, singing or playing an instrument," Reid said.
"I just re-wrote it to a girls version. At the beginning of the video I said I wrote it for Justin Bieber, and some die-hard Beliebers took that the wrong way and thought I wrote it bashing him. I actually just wrote it for him to hear. Once they figured that out it was good. Some people thought I’d had a secret relationship with Justin and written a song about it."
The video resulted in a meeting with label Wax records. After playing a few songs on her guitar, they signed her on the spot. The first single Alone Again samples the chorus of Heart’s classic Alone. Reid admits that tackling such a prominent piece was a daunting task.
"Alone was such an iconic song, Ann and Nancy Wilson are crazy talented. At first I wasn’t even planning on using the song, I wrote a completely different song and I threw the chorus on as filler and sent it to my label to see what they thought about it. I ended up falling in love with it so by then I had no choice but to do it. I know it is very difficult to match up to Ann Wilson and know 100% that I don’t outshine the classic, it was such an amazing song. People either love it or they hate it. Some love it and are glad they get to hear it again, or they feel I ruined a classic. Either reaction is a good reaction because people care enough to comment. I am grateful for the opportunity to revive it and allow people that are 10 and 11 to sing the song now in 2011."
That is one of the great things about songs being covered and re-imagined. Although the original was released a decade before Reid was born, it has lead people her own age and younger to hear the original.
"A lot of people didn’t know it was a cover until they saw media on it, a lot of younger people hadn’t heard Alone before. When I started doing interviews they YouTubed the original. It is really cool to be able to reference the video and song from the 80’s. It is really cool that people my age and younger get to listen to both songs now."
A lot of focus has been on the single, but The Game, on the whole, is an excellent debut album. From the opening Letting Go through Live To Tell, it is an enjoyable pop album that shows a lot of potential for Reid.
"I have been writing and co-writing it for the past year. One of the first songs I ever wrote with my label is on the album called Without You. It is amazing that I got to take songs that were very personal to me, that I sat in my bedroom and wrote, and got to put them on the album. It was a long process; I was excited for it to come out finally."
Something we haven’t seen is Reid dancing around in her underwear or grinding on male dancers. What you see with her is what you get, and she takes her influence on young girls seriously.
"I am just doing me. I am being true to who I am, not only as an artist but as a person. I don’t think prancing around in barely any clothes to sell records is what music is about. It is very important being a role model. People don’t realize how influential they are. People look up to them and want to emulate them. I think it is important to see the real Alyssa Reid as a person and not just a singer."
Reid returns to Alberta this month as a rising star.
"I always wanted to go (to the Calgary Stampede) but never did. I am so excited to play there. I have heard so many amazing things about The Calgary Stampede and how fun and lively it is."
"Coming to Edmonton means I get to see my family. I love Edmonton and I go back a few times a year, and I love performing there because my family gets to come out and watch. This will be the first time I play there since Alone Again was released. I have no idea what it will be like. My family gets it but they don’t actually understand what happens because they haven’t seen it yet. When I sing Alone Again the crowd joins in and belts it at the top of their lungs. I am emotional just thinking about my family seeing the entirety of what this has done. It is going to be one of my best shows because of the people who are going to be there and what that is going to do."
The Game in stores now.
The Calgary Stampede - July 11, 2011
Edmonton Capital Ex - July 22nd, 2011