Malissa’s moving on up

by Leigh-ann Worrell

Look out Taylor Swift, there is a Bajan hot on your heels, working hard to pluck you off your country/pop princess throne.

malissaalanaShe is the best new artist of 2012, a Digicel spokesperson, and winner of Atlanta’s Business and Entertainment Exchange’s Spotlight Award.

She is sought after for performances at posh, private West Coast venues, all the way to North Carolina, Atlanta and Nashville in Tennessee and was able to meet her idol, Dolly Parton.

And as of January 1, 2013, the hardworking singer/songwriter Malissa Alanna will be represented by RST Entertainment, helmed by noted US booking agent Brian Springle, Stephanie Thomas and entertainment lawyer Johnny Taylor Jr.

“This is not a label…,” her manager clarified, “but it is conduit to get Malissa Alanna to where she needs to be… They are some of the best in the business, and when I met with them, they were people that you would want to work with, and we are very, very pleased…

“As her manager, there is only so much that I can do to help her and push her career forward and this kind of representation is exactly what she needs to help her name get out there.”

The connection was made through local singer/talent agent Ronnie Morris, who discovered Malissa Alanna from one of her YouTube videos, and was awed by her talent.

So yes, it’s fair to say that Malissa Alanna has been busy making a name for herself in the last two years.

Even though her successes are impressive, nothing came close to the jaw-dropping rendition of the 17-year-old’s take on Slow Dancing in a Burning Room by John Mayer. Her voice was accentuated by the strums of a red guitar, which Malissa Alanna taught herself to play after two months of YouTube tutorials.

This Christ Church teen has chosen country/pop as her genre, but the bluesy, soulful, almost melancholic tinge to her sound heralded the tunes sung by artists who are probably now her grandmother’s age — or older.

In about a week, she will be back in Atlanta to once again share her talent, during a performance at the Salute of the Legends Awards, where she will be heard and seen by some of the biggest names in country music. And as she goes on this journey to her number one hit, the blue-eyed, blonde-haired singer will be doing it all for her MAS — Malissa Alanna Supporters.

“No matter where I am, it is my Bajan supporters that keep me going… I see them sending me messages on Facebook and on my videos, and I know the ones who are always commenting. That is my drive. That is what I work on,” the noticeably thinner songbird emphasised to Barbados Today in an easy Monday afternoon conversation.

The importance of Malissa Alanna’s Barbadian base — and her diligence — was also why a win at the recently-held Barbados Music Awards was important.

“When I was first nominated … I knew I wanted it…,” she admitted. “I was nominated for three awards, and Rihanna took the other two away from me, but thank God I was able to win the Best New Artist. It was an amazing feeling to get Best New Artist, because there is only one chance. You can only be a new artist for so long … and this is a little piece of something. Even though it is not a massive Grammy or anything, [and] it is my second award … but the first major one for me.”

However, it is not only about smiles and butterflies. She told Barbados Today that sometimes she has challenges with friends and as such, tried to keep only a small circle of them — and her family, as her main source of support.

She also has fellow artist Oliver Vizion Gale to keep her company on the rocky road to success, even writing a song or two along the way.

Malissa Alanna revealed that while they knew each other for a few years (she was friends with his younger brother), they reconnected at a show which Malissa Alanna performed at. This reacquaintance sparked trips together to Atlanta and North Carolina last year, where they were both able to showcase their own brand of unique and unlikely talents. Vizion was also a winner at the Barbados Music Awards, walking away with Rap/Hip Hop Artist of the Year and will also be going to Atlanta in February.

But before they leave, hopefully Malissa Alanna will get her fill of beaches, movies and playing with her rescue dog Kenny — things she may not have the time for after she dethrones Swift.

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