Wow, I’m officially an award-winning songwriter!
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning.
In January, I submitted for the 2023 ISSA Awards and received six nominations. In April, all my amazing Butterflies voted, and I became a finalist in five categories.
Once the finalists were announced in May, I wrote this blog post, where I break down my categories and share what each means to me. I had no idea I’d be bringing home my first music award three months later.
I’m beyond excited to give you a glimpse into one of the most magical trips of my life. It was a whirlwind, so get ready, we’re going to Atlanta!
Traveling to Atlanta
On August 4, I flew to Atlanta in the afternoon with my parents. I was buzzing with excitement because I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months. Also, this was my first time in the city. Before this trip, I’ve only been in the Atlanta airport for connecting flights when I vacationed in the Caribbean. Good times!
When I got to the hotel, I visited with some of my family, who live nearby. It was such a fun day, and I bought an Atlanta hoodie in the mall attached to the hotel. It’s been a tradition of mine ever since I was young to get a hoodie each time I visit a new city. I’m so happy I added Atlanta to my collection.
Before I knew it, the time had come to get ready for the ISSA Awards pre-party that night. I’ve never attended a pre-party before, so I felt both excited and nervous. I’m glad to share this introverted butterfly survived.
The Pre-Party at Wild Wing Cafe
I literally had a total blast at the ISSA Awards pre-party. My favorite part was getting to meet friends in person for the first time. The energy in Wild Wing Cafe shimmered with excitement and anticipation for the awards the next day. I’ve always known the International Singer Songwriters Association is a huge family, but experiencing this at the pre-party made me realize how special this organization truly is.
Of course, I took some photos. Here is me with Tamanie Dove, who is the founder of the International Singer Songwriters Association. She’s an angel on earth, and it was an honor meeting her. I’ll never forget how she squealed my name and ran to give me a hug.
I met three artists I’ve gotten to know over this past year, too. First, Caitlin Mae is such a ray of sunshine. She’s from the UK, so it was wild being at the same event. This just goes to show how the ISSA Awards bring artists together from all around the world.
Next, I’m so glad I met Robbie Harte during my trip. She has a heart of gold. The music industry has some of the most special people in it, and Robbie is definitely one of them. I’m so grateful for our friendship.
Also, I was over the moon when Caruso spotted me and came to say hi. He’s a multi-genre artist too, and his journey is inspiring. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by the kindest and most talented artists out there.
I met so many others I didn’t get pictures with, and I’m grateful for every moment of the pre-party. This night was the best way to kick off the ISSA Awards celebrations. I kept my wrist band from the event, so I can remember the pre-party forever.
Hair and Makeup on Awards Day
The big day finally arrived on August 5. I started the fun by getting my hair and makeup done at Aura Hair & Makeup.
I can’t thank my makeup artist, Maddy, and hair stylist, Taylor, enough for being literal gems and helping me get ready for the awards. They both had such an infectious enthusiasm and did a perfect job.
I loved getting my hair and makeup done. While I was at the salon, the realization the awards were only a few hours away dawned on me. By this point, I couldn’t contain my excitement.
Photos At the Hotel
Once I changed into my dress and shoes at the hotel, I took some photos before heading to the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.
I honestly felt like a butterfly princess.
Also, this butterfly in my hair brought me good luck.
Here’s a photo of my parents and me.
Then, it was time for the red carpet!
The ISSA Awards Red Carpet
When I arrived at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, the red carpet event was in full swing. I’ve dreamed of attending red carpet events growing up, so it’s wild they’re a part of my reality now.
Huge thank you to Tom Martinelli for being a fabulous photographer and getting this professional shot of me on the red carpet. Butterfly princess in high definition, right?
Also, I got interviewed by Sonny Levins. I love interviews so much, and awards interviews are next level.
Before the awards ceremony started, I got a picture with my Uncle Marc, who traveled to be part of my special day. I can’t thank him enough for coming to the awards.
Red carpet events are seriously so much fun. Even though I’m an introvert and get overwhelmed easily, I was surprised to find I wasn’t nervous this time. Honestly, I think a lot of that had to do with how family-like the International Singer Songwriters Association is. After the pre-party the night before, I felt like I was part of something special and wasn’t anxious. I loved every second of this event and couldn’t believe it was time for the awards ceremony.
Winning the Bronze ISSA Award for USA Female Album of the Year
The ISSA Awards unfolded into a beautiful event, full of deserving wins, heartfelt acceptance speeches, and outstanding performances. Simply being in a room packed with such international talent made me reflect on how lucky I was to be there. I had no idea one of my biggest dreams was about to come true when the Album of the Year category rolled around.
When my name got called for the bronze award, I instantly started bawling my eyes out. This isn’t even an exaggeration. Just ask anyone who saw me with black mascara all over my face.
“Halfway Outta This Town,” one of my favorite songs on It Is What It Is, filled the room while my winning video played on a massive screen. I wept the entire time I walked onto the stage to accept my first music award, hearing my song and everyone cheering for me.
Here’s the video. I’m so grateful this got sent to me after the awards. I love it so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the ISSA team for making it.
I didn’t write an acceptance speech because I wasn’t expecting to win an award. So, what did I do? That’s right, friends, I improvised. How I was able to talk while I stood there in a state of total shock and surprise is beyond me.
Here’s my acceptance speech. Shoutout to my mom for filming this.
It Is What It Is holds a very special place in my heart. I seriously can’t believe writing this project led to winning my first music award. I don’t have the words to express how blessed I feel.
I was all smiles with my prestigious ISSA crystal.
Here’s a closeup of my engraved crystal. I’m still trying to process this is really mine.
Also, I was given the envelope from my award announcement, and I’m keeping it, along with the awards program and my pre-party wrist band, in the box my crystal came in.
The ISSA Awards will forever be special to me. Winning my first music award is something I’ve worked for and dreamed about for years. My crystal will serve as a constant reminder of this magical accomplishment. I’m forever thankful for everyone who has supported me on my songwriting journey because I couldn’t have reached this milestone alone. I love you all so much.
I put together a special video with my photos from the trip, the motion graphic for my win, and my accceptance speech. I hope you enjoy watching it.
The Magic That Followed
After sharing my win with family and friends and posting about it on social media, the amount of calls, messages, and comments that poured in during the days that followed made me feel like I opened some kind of flood gate. People I haven’t talked to in years, and even some I don’t know personally, have reached out to congratulate me. I can’t thank everyone enough for celebrating this moment with me. My heart is full of gratitude.
Thank you so much to Tamanie for creating my winner graphic.
Also, winning this award has already opened doors for me, from my music being aired on new shows to being offered interviews. I’m so thankful for everyone who I’ve connected with at the awards and afterward. I know there’s much more to come, and I’m ready to enjoy every moment.
So, that’s a wrap on my 2023 ISSA Awards experience. I went to Atlanta to make memories and flew back to Pittsburgh with my very own crystal. Every moment of my trip was perfect. I visited with family, met friends and made new ones, got to be part of a beautiful event celebrating the independent music community, and of course, won my first music award. Life doesn’t get much better than this. I’ll hold the memories close to my heart while I continue chasing my songwriting dreams.