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Conversations with the Inspiring Alissa Musto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alissa Musto.

Alissa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up in a family of professional musicians, I started playing the piano at 4 years old. I used to wait by the door as my dad, a vocalist, and pianist would get ready to go to work, hoping I could join him. He told me that if I learned how to play the piano, someday, I would be able to! I started taking piano lessons and just stuck with it. When I was 9 years old, I performed on the national television series, America’s Most Talented Kid and continued to perform in talent shows, festivals and local venues throughout my childhood. By the time I was in high school, I was regularly gigging on the weekends and had some really awesome performance opportunities like the Wonderworld TV Awards (where I was presented with Piano Act of the Year) and opening for Wynton Marsalis at the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Providence. Although I chose to study government in college, this is when my career in music really started taking off. By 19, I was booking about 250 shows per year through weekly residencies in premiere venues and New England’s top agencies and my debut album, What We Saw From the Piano Bar, was gaining attention from radio stations, blogs, and magazines around the country. Being crowned Miss Massachusetts in 2016 and competing in Miss America opened up a whole new door of opportunities for me — from implementing music programs in at-risk schools to meeting with our politicians to participating in dozens of speaking and appearance engagements at galas, award shows, fundraisers, schools, hospitals and club meetings. Additionally, I earned enough scholarship money through the Miss America Organization to return to school and am currently working on my Master of Music degree. Today, I like to keep busy with my blog, Piano Girl, which covers my adventures as a professional entertainer, as well as my performing and songwriting endeavors.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Pursuing a career in the arts is certainly challenging, tiring and at times, frustrating. However, because music and performing are so embedded in who I am, I really can’t imagine waking up and doing anything else. There are certainly plenty of “critics” along the way — and I’m not just talking about casting directors or music industry professionals. Sometimes, they come in the form of family members or friends, which can be incredibly disheartening because it can really make you question your own abilities and career path. At shows, I am constantly asked what my “day job” is or what my real career goals are; a friend once referred to my career as a “side-hustle” once. My advice for other women starting a journey in the music industry is to recognize that there are going to be challenging; however, be unapologetic for yourself and your art.

What should we know about your business? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I play piano and sing songs.

Primarily, I provide piano and vocal entertainment for a variety of events and venues ranging from weddings to restaurants to dueling piano shows. Right now, my two most popular venues are a sing-along piano bar inside a historic beer hall and an upper-scale restaurant in Boston’s Seaport frequented by professional athletes and other high-end clients. Additionally, I’m hired by Boston’s top talent agencies to perform at a variety of large corporate events. In addition to performing, I write my own music; my latest acoustic EP, X Post Facto, is now available via Spotify, Apple Music, and all major music distributors. My blog, Piano Girl, follows my life as a professional entertainer, as well as a variety of lifestyle, pageant, travel and food topics.

I am most proud of myself for my continual growth. While I’m nowhere close to where I want to be in my career, I’m continuing to expand my resume, my network, and my comfort zone every day. I don’t like saying “no”.

I think my versatility truly sets me apart as a performer. I can quickly transition from playing classical music in an evening gown to leading an audience in “drunk white people favorites” (as one Yelp user described it).

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
My experiences growing up directly influenced my success as a professional musician. I was lucky to grow up in a household where my passion for music was nurtured and encouraged. Of course, having a professional performer for a dad was also incredibly helpful as I began navigating the industry myself. Even today, I’m constantly meeting people in the scene who know or know of my dad.

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Image Credit:

Zach Cruz

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