"Your generation's Billy Joel"
Geoff Wilbur's Music Blog
When Alissa Musto was four years old, she used to sit by the door with a garage sale guitar and beg her father, a professional "piano man" to take her to work with him. He promised that if she learned to play the piano, she'd someday be able to. Less than a year later, Alissa, won her first piano competition performing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, assisted by a wooden block that allowed her to reach the sustain pedals. Alissa quickly grabbed the attention of local talent shows, NBC's Spotlight on the Student Artist series and at age 9, performed on the national television series, "America's Most Talented Kid".
Growing up in Massachusetts, Alissa juggled a rigorous academic schedule with her musical aspirations--using lunch breaks 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 three in the 19 & under Music On & Up Showcase grand finale, 1st place in the Rhode Island's Got Talent and New England Performs talent competitions and top 10 in KidzStar USA, a talent search attracting 45,000+.
As part of the "Find Your Voice" competition, Music & Arts, the largest retail chain of band and orchestra instruments, chose Alissa and four other young artists nationwide to sponsor with new musical equipment and scholarships. Dubbed a "Rising Star of Jazz" by FirstWorks, Alissa opened for trumpet legend, Wynton Marsalis at the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium, with her high school jazz quartet and signed on to the SuperCuts Rock the Cut national campaign for upcoming artists. Passionate about environmental issues, Alissa became a spokesperson for Project GreenSchools and promoted environmental causes throughout New England, performing at schools, fairs and even the Massachusetts State House where she was honored with a citation from the House of Representatives.
Throughout high school, Alissa hosted "Teenage Critic", a culture and arts series on PBS aimed towards New England youth. In addition to interviewing guests and covering New England’s music and arts scene for four years, Alissa served as associate producer during her final season. In college, Alissa hosted PunkFM, a Boston-based series featuring upcoming rock bands in the metro-Boston area. She has also filmed segments for MTV, NESN and local ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates, acted in several music videos, commercials and small film projects and has appeared in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, The Society (Netflix), SMILF (Showtime), Defending Jacob (Apple TV) and Nos4A2 (AMC).
On January 5th, 2015, Alissa released her debut album, "What We Saw From the Piano Bar”—the same day her biggest inspiration, Bruce Springsteen, released his debut album in 1973. Immediately following the release, her single “Black Flak” beat out dozens of 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 4,300 submissions, 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 and Needham Music Awards. 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.
One month after her 21st birthday and graduation from Harvard University, Alissa was crowned Miss Massachusetts and competed in the 2017 Miss America pageant, placing as a top 15 finalist. During her year of service, Alissa continued the music education efforts she implemented as Miss Tri-County 2015, Miss Cambridge 2016, working alongside numerous arts-related organizations including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Girls Rock!, Harvard Reading Buddies, CityArts and Headstart, where she founded and led in-class music classes. Her efforts have been recognized by the Harvard Legal Entrepreneurship Project, the Club Passim Iguana Music Fund grant, the Miss America Community Service award, the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Massachusetts Governor's Office.
Funded by the scholarship money she won through the Miss America Organization and additional merit scholarships, Alissa earned her Master's degree in Music Business and Entertainment Industries from the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, the nation's top music business school, according to Billboard. Her academic work has been published several times in the Berklee Music Business Journal.
As a performer for Billboard Onboard, the award-winning pop piano show aboard Holland America’s luxury cruise ships, and a resident guest entertainer for Princess Cruiselines. Alissa has dazzled audiences while sailing through over 50 countries. When the Covid-19 pandemic brought cruising to a halt in March 2020, Alissa disembarked and returned to Massachusetts where she wrote, recorded and released her single, "How Still", from home. When the song was released on May 1st, also known as "May Day", there were still 100,000 crew members stuck onboard. Determined to shed light on the issue, "How Still" spotlighted the struggles of the industry and uncertainty facing crew members at home and at sea. The music video featured short videos and selfies submitted by seafarers across cruise lines, nationalities and backgrounds, expressing the messages they wanted the world to know. The song quickly hit 20,000 views on Facebook and Alissa's story was featured in Conde Nast Traveler, GEN (a Medium publication), The Washington Post, the cover page of The Herald News, NBC Boston, Good Morning America and ABC's national lifestyle network, Localish.
Alissa has graced stages across New England, New York City and across the United States including the House of Blues, the Hard Rock Cafe, Foxwoods Resort & Casino, the Rhode Island Convention Center, the Wang Theatre, the Peabody Essex Museum's "Ocean Liners: Glamour, Speed, and Style" exhibit, the Middle East Club and Boston's prestige hotels, restaurants, universities and events for corporations, charities and political candidates. She has maintained long-term piano bar residencies at Point Street Dueling Pianos (Providence, RI), Jacob Wirth (Boston, MA) and Mastro's Ocean Club (Boston, MA) and is a preferred entertainer within New England's top agencies and dueling piano clubs around the country. She has been recognized as a Boston Office of Arts and Culture grant recipient and finalist in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, Limelight Music Awards and New England Music Awards. Her 2017 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".
During the pandemic, Alissa traveled cross country in a camper van, lived on a sailboat and eventually relocated to Florida where she is the house performer at Showbar Dueling Pianos in Ybor City. In October 2021, she competed in the historic Miss World America virtual pageant--a preliminary to the oldest-running international pageant, winning the Beauty With A Purpose and Talent challenges and ultimately placing in the top 5. Alissa is currently a rookie on the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning Blue Crew, entertaining hockey fans at Amalie Arena during home games.