Every now and then, a new artist comes along who seems to effortlessly capture the imagination. Singer/songwriter Alyssa Bernal, a relatable girl with an unforgettable voice, is just that artist for a new generation. Alyssa was your everyday American teenager, busy with classes and cheerleading practice, when her heartfelt, acoustic YouTube clips caught the eye of superstar producer Pharrell Williams. Fast-forward a year later, and her debut album from Star Trak Entertainment is about to bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to the pop landscape.
For Alyssa, music comes about as naturally as breathing. The singer/songwriter was raised in a music-steeped household in San Antonio, Texas. During her childhood, Alyssa’s father was the drummer for groundbreaking Tejano band, and at the age of six she stood backstage and gazed out at stadium-sized crowds as he performed. The experience didn’t exactly ignite her passion for performing, though. “I was so shy!” Remembers Alyssa with a laugh, “my parents would dress me up and make me sing but I hated it.”
Somehow, her love of music overcame her fear of performing. By the time she was a teen in San Antonio, Alyssa uploaded a few homemade videos of herself singing cover songs like Rihanna’s “Take a Bow.” She taught herself to play guitar, and soon one video lead to dozens, and a rapidly-growing fan base around the globe. “People would message me and say that they had a horrible day and my songs changed their day,” Alyssa recalls. “It’s pretty touching. After a while I had to stop reading all of my messages because it got so overwhelming, but I always tried to open the ones from soldiers in the service.”
Since she received so many responses to her videos, Alyssa at first neglected her most famous admirer: Pharrell Williams. The platinum-selling artist and producer even tried contacting Alyssa’s high school to get in touch with her, but “they didn’t know who Pharrell was! They just thought it was some shady guy trying to get a hold of me,” laughs Alyssa. Finally, her mother spotted a MySpace message from Star Trak and 24 hours later, they flew to meet Williams and Interscope Records chairman Jimmy Iovine at the Star Trak headquarters in Los Angeles. She impressed them with “Hey Love,” one of the first songs she ever wrote (now featured on the album), a perfectly Alyssa tune: breezy but strong, intricate and approachable.