Music is nothing new to South Portland’s Amy Allen. After all, as a 10-year-old Waynflete School lower school student, she began studying guitar with Jerks of Grass’ Carter Logan. But that was just the beginning. Now, after a decade, two albums, participation last year in NBC’s “The Voice” and enrollment in Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, Allen’s ascent is in full force.
The city and friends this fall will be familiar. Allen, 20, graduated from Waynflete in 2010, and entered the top-tier nursing school at Boston College. Music was important to her then, but it’s become much more “than a way to relieve stress.”
Seeing a child play the guitar at an orphanage in Tanzania during the summer of 2009 was pivotal.
“We couldn’t have been any more different, but it was a great way to connect,” she said. “I really understood that musical is a universal language. It was a spiritual thing I’d never felt before.”
Allen (along with Jon Wyman, Chuck Gagne, Carter Logan and Jason Spooner) wrote and recorded her first album, “Honey,” as her Waynflete senior project. Proceeds from the sale of the album went to back to that Tanzanian orphanage. Allen was named the Portland Phoenix Best New Act and Best Female Vocalist in 2011, and a WJBQ97.9 “VIP Audition” for the TV talent show “The Voice” landed her in Atlanta, beginning a whirlwind fall last year between Boston and Los Angeles.
In fact, Allen had returned from the Atlanta audition and was barely moved into her dorm for her sophomore year at BC when she got a call to be on a flight to L.A. the next morning.
“I was there for a week and a half and then they sent us all home,” she said.
Allen immediately turned her attention to running the 2011 Maine Marathon (a successful finish) and getting back to the schoolbooks when she was called to L.A. again.
“I was shocked,” she said.
That stint included five more weeks in California, and although Allen did not make the televised portion of the show, she “met a ton of amazing people.” They included Nashville’s Leland Grant, with whom Allen has since written more than 20 songs. They will choose their favorites for her third album, which she hopes to release in 2013.
Allen’s second album, an EP entitled “Neptune” (recorded with Jon Wyman and Zach Jones), came out last May, and Allen and her band (Zach Jones, Sean Morin, Charlie Gaylord, John Kumnick and Andrew Pelletier) performed extensively throughout Maine this summer. She has performed a number of benefit concerts both in Maine and Boston, a handful of local radio stations are playing her work, her manager Charlie Gaylord has “opened a lot of doors,” and her albums are available both on iTunes and at Bullmoose Music. A website and Twitter and Facebook accounts all keep her fans posted.
And after her first year at Berklee, where she hopes to combine school with the coffee house performance route?
“I’m really, really hoping to go on tour the summer of 2013,” Allen said.