Getting to know: Olivia Penalva

The Morning Star features a Q&A with Vernon singer-songwriter Olivia Penalva.

Vernon singer-songwriter Olivia Penalva

Vernon singer-songwriter Olivia Penalva


For The Morning Star

Olivia Penalva is a talented 14-year-old singer-songwriter from Vernon. She began singing at age 11 with local music teacher and vocal coach Betty Ann Northup and made it to the top 12 in the Our Kids have Talent competition in both 2012 and 2013.

Penalva held a sold-out CD release concert at the Powerhouse Theatre in November for her debut album titled Rainfall. She has also been working with local talent Andrew Allen in Los Angeles, and together they have collaborated on several songs including her top 30 Canadian radio chart topper Christmas For Two.

Q: When did you become interested in music?

A: “I have always been interested in music, but when I was about 11 and started vocal lessons that’s when I really started to appreciate it, pursue it, and love it.

Q: What is the songwriting process like for you?

A: “Initially it was a challenge to put lyrics and melodies together to create one song, let alone the whole Rainfall album. But I really enjoy the process and every time I sit down to write, it gets easier and easier to create something that I like and that feels like me. I especially enjoy collaborating on a song because everyone’s input just helps the song be better. It is magical when it just clicks.”

Q: How is the experience of travelling to Los Angeles to meet with Andrew (Allen) and Robin Ghosh and other musicians and songwriters?

A: “Traveling to L.A. is now one of my favourite things to do, and I love having the opportunity to work with such talented musicians. Andrew and Robin are amazing songwriters and I have definitely learned a lot working with them. As a team we connect well and have come up with some amazing new songs for my EP album. Not to mention it is warm in L.A. so that just makes it even better.”

Q: Do you enjoy live performances?

A: “I love performing! Our Kids Have Talent got me up on stage and it has been a love affair ever since. Having my CD release concert at the Powerhouse Theatre last fall sure helped me to get over most of my stage fright. It was amazing to be on stage with a full band and packed theatre.

I have many opportunities to perform with so many talented musicians and it helps that I have been well received by my audiences. I especially enjoy my monthly acoustic gigs at Intermezzo Restaurant with my favourite drummer, Dan Oldfield, who accompanies me on cajon. I am also thankful to have the opportunity to work, and sing with Andrew Allen on occasion. He is so talented and so inspiring and he has really helped me to move forwards as a performer.”

Q: I hear a lot of buzz lately about your song Fight For You?

A: “Yes that song is really special to me. I shot the video for it last fall with a great team from Eleven 050 and some fantastic musician/actors. It is a project close to my heart as the proceeds of every purchase on ITunes goes to the Salvation Army to help the homeless. It was also picked as one of 306 finalists from over 18,500 applicants in the International Song Writing competition and one of 15 in the teen category; the top three in each category to be announced the end of April. I am the only Canadian finalist. This is also the song entered into the CBC Searchlight Competition and was picked by Toronto-based journalist Chris Dart as one of 112 songs on his Mega Playlist of Amazing Discoveries. I ended up making it as far as the regional semi-finals and am so thankful for all my fans who voted for me.

Q: Do you have any other hobbies aside from singing?

A: “I don’t have many other hobbies as I spend a lot of my time singing, writing, and playing guitar. But I do love collecting things and somehow I manage to collect the strangest things. Whatever my new obsession is, I will make sure I get one in every colour or flavour. My family always teases me.”

Q: Does anyone else in your family sing or just you?

A: “I am the only singer in my family, although my brother and sister are both pretty good at it. We sing together sometimes, but not in public because they are both too shy. My mom and dad are certain that my talent does not come from them, but they are huge music fans.”

Q: What can we expect from you with your music this year?

A: “This year is going to be a great but busy year. I’ve been writing a ton of music which I love and I am super excited about my new songs and the eventual release of my EP album. I have also been posting some cool covers on my Music Mondays YouTube page, some of which have done really well, and I have got some fun shows coming up throughout B.C. this summer, so be sure to check my website for those details. I can’t wait for you guys to see what comes next.”

Ed note: Aniko Forgo is a Grade 12 Kalamalka Secondary School student who has conducted a series of Q&As with local musicians.