"Your generation's Billy Joel"
GEOFF WILBUR'S MUSIC BLOG
Alissa Musto’s desire to perform began at four years old, sitting by the door with a garage sale guitar and begging her father, a professional musician, to take her to work with him. They struck a deal---if she learned to play the piano, Alissa could join. Less than a year later and equipped with a wooden block to reach the pedals, Alissa won her first piano competition performing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Eager to follow in her father’s footsteps and adding rock and vocals to her arrangements, Alissa grabbed the attention of local talent shows, NBC's Spotlight on the Student Artist series and the national television show, "America's Most Talented Kid".
Raised in Massachusetts, Alissa juggled her academic schedule with her musical aspirations, using lunch break to practice, performing in local venues on the weekends and racking up local and national honors including “Piano Act of the Year" in the nationally-airing Wonderworld TV Golden Ribby Awards, top 3 in the 19 & under Music On & Up Showcase grand finale and top 10 in KidzStar USA, a talent search attracting 45,000+ entries. As part of the "Find Your Voice" competition, Music & Arts, the largest retail chain of band and orchestra instruments, chose Alissa and 4 other young artists nationwide to sponsor with new musical equipment and scholarships. Dubbed a "Rising Star of Jazz" by FirstWorks, Alissa was also asked to open for trumpet legend, Wynton Marsalis at the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium and signed on to the SuperCuts Rock the Cut national campaign for upcoming artists.
Using her music to make a difference, Alissa became a spokesperson for environmental organization, Project GreenSchools in 2010. She was a featured performer on a slew of New England tour dates at schools, fairs and other venues. Alissa was also asked to write the theme song for the program, which she performed at the Massachusetts State House, and was presented with a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Today, Alissa continues her charity work as a Boston Symphony Orchestra ambassador and volunteer with numerous arts-related organizations including Girls Rock!, Harvard Reading Buddies, CityArts and Headstart. Her original project, Changing Keys, connects unused pianos with students and schools in at-risk communities and has been selected for the Harvard Legal Entrepreneurship Project, the Club Passim Iguana Music Fund grant and the Miss America Community Service scholarship.
While still in high school, Alissa hosted a culture and arts series on PBS aimed towards New England youth called "Teenage Critic". In addition to interviewing guests and covering New England’s music and arts scene for four seasons, Alissa served as associate producer during her final year on the show. After moving to Boston, Alissa hosted PunkFM, a Boston-based series featuring upcoming rock bands in the metro-Boston area. She has also filmed segments with MTV, NESN and local ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates, has acted in several music videos and small film projects and has appeared in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Netflix's The Society, Showtime's SMILF, Apple TV's upcoming Defending Jacob and I Feel Pretty alongside Amy Schumer.
Alissa released her debut album, "What We Saw From the Piano Bar", on January 5th, 2015, the same day her biggest inspiration, Bruce Springsteen, released his debut album in 1973. Immediately following the release, her single “Black Flak” beat out 25 local artists in the MusicToVideo contest and has been featured on radio shows and blogs nationally, including SiriusXM radio. One of six participants from over 4,3000 entries, Alissa was also selected for the House of Blues Bringing Down the House Class of 2015 and chosen as as the winner of the Justine Magazine Talent Search. After successfully completing the program, she was invited to serve on the Music Forward Foundation Alumni Advisory Board and contribute to the Foundation's compilation album.
In 2016, Alissa was crowned Miss Massachusetts and competed in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, placing as a top 15 finalist. During her year of service, Alissa continued the music education efforts she implemented as Miss Tri-County 2015 and Miss Cambridge 2016: bringing music programs into at-risk schools and speaking to students and community leaders throughout the Commonwealth about the benefits of arts education. As Miss Massachusetts, Alissa appeared on numerous news and radio shows, was honored by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, her hometown Board of Selectmen and the Massachusetts Governor's Office, and participated in dozens of speaking and appearance engagements at galas, award shows, fundraisers, schools, hospitals, club meetings and her personal favorite, the 116th annual Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the country. Funded by the scholarship money she earned through the Miss America Organization, Alissa is a Master of Music candidate at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, where she studies Music Business and Entertainment Industries and was recently published in the Berklee Music Business Journal.
Alissa has graced stages across the northeast and beyond including the House of Blues, the Hard Rock Cafe, Foxwoods Resort & Casino, the Rhode Island Convention Center, the Wang Theatre, Boston's prestige hotels, restaurants, universities and events for corporations, charities and political candidates. She has maintained long-term weekly residencies in the region's premiere venues and is a preferred entertainer within New England's top agencies. As a guest entertainer for Billboard Onboard, the pop piano show aboard Holland America’s luxury cruise ships, Alissa has dazzled audiences throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska and the French Polynesia.
In addition to being featured in dozens of local news publications and music blogs, Alissa has been interviewed for Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, Insider, Thrive, Moneyish, Refinery29 and Bustle. Her recent acoustic EP, “X Post Facto” has been been described as “hauntingly beautiful”, “captivating”, “poignant, authentic” and “the millennial ballad of the century”, while she has been praised as a “jazzy-folk songwriting genius” and “your generation’s Billy Joel”.