Songwriter Profile: Ava Della Pietra

Ava Della Pietra

Going For It

With her debut EP release (truth or truth) next month, and a full album to follow in the Fall, Ava Della Pietra is on her way to carving her spot on the pop music scene. Starting in music at age four (she plays piano, bass, guitar, violin and ukulele), the 16 year-old—best known for her Broadway performances in School of Rock—began touring nationally with Les Misérables and White Christmas while still in grade school.

Della Pietra’s mother sings, plays the guitar and violin, voice and acting coaches helped along the way, and a supportive Broadway agent assisted in securing some auditions, but Della Pietra feels that the majority of her momentum came from starting early. “Getting into it so young was definitely one of the most educational experiences. When you're really little, you take in a lot of information very quickly,” she shares. “I think that's part of the reason I was able to pick up the business so rapidly.”

Writing a total of 32 songs during lockdown—most while quarantining with her family on Long Island—Della Pietra has been songwriting since she was six, but has never released anything - until now. I did my first community theater production when I was three and was always improvising melodies and lyrics about my day,” she says. Ideas coming spontaneously at first—a specific sentence sometimes getting stuck in her mind and turning into a melody that she would build a song around—she now plays a few chords on the piano, while looking through her diary of song titles for inspiration.

Feeling liberated by songwriting, Della Pietra explains that the process feels much less constrained and more personal than the scripted roles she is used to playing. Last month’s single, “My Boyfriend” talks about becoming interested in boys. “It’s one of my favorites so far,” reveals Della Pietra, adding that songwriting has helped her to clarify her thoughts around what she thinks and feels. “Before I start writing the song, I won't completely know my stance on something” she says. Having always considered herself a pretty independent person, she began to recognize during lockdown that many of her decisions were based on the thoughts and beliefs of others. “Songwriting has definitely been like therapy to figure out what I like to do,” she adds. Her single, “Power of You,” is about finding her own voice.

There have been unexpected moments of encouragement along the way. First performing originals in a coffee shop at the Sundance Film Festival at age 12, an audience member near the stage cheered throughout the performance. “It was the first time I thought people liked my music and that I should continue,” says Della Pietra. Never feeling nervous on Broadway, she has found the smaller shows more intimidating. “There's something very personal about performing your own music, having to make eye contact with the audience and being able to see each one,” she says. “You're in a much more vulnerable state than when you're just playing a character.” Another fan recently reached out via social media with an emotional voice memo about “Optimist,” describing how the song helped him through a hard time. Della Pietra began to recognize the true impact her music could have.

Her best advice to artists is to keep trying, and that perseverance can pay off. During one round of School of Rock auditions, she was asked if she knew how to play the bass guitar (which she didn’t). Della Pietra’s agent relayed she would learn. In four days, she learned “Teacher’s Pet,” auditioned, and got the role.

With performances at the Sundance Film Festival, Great South Bay Music Festival and Madison Square Gardens, Della Pietra won the 2021 NY State School Music Association Calls for Creation Competition “Songwriters Showcase” for songs “Optimist” and “Moon,” second prize in the New York Young Performer’s Prize competition for her performance of “Popular” from Wicked, “Outstanding Achievement in Songwriting” award by The Great American Song Contest for “Optimist,” and received the 2021 Suffolk Region PTA “Reflections” award – the largest possible for a student in the arts.

Contact John Bleicher, [email protected]

Experience Ava Della Pietra, avadellapietra.com