Kayla Avitabile is a two time LVMA (Industry and Fan) nominated singer-songwriter and guitarist with a powerful and soulful voice who first awed audiences performing at MegaJam at age 13. Steel Notes Magazine describes Kayla as “the voice of this generation’s angst sounding downright brilliant” and reviewed her debut CD as “the lyrical comparison to J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye”. Lehigh Valley Underground reviewed her CD describing its "ambitious songwriting, profound lyrics, and a voice that may be the most powerful and seasoned among her contemporaries." The CD was also named one of Modern Rock Reviews "Choice 5" in March, 2018.
Kayla is a fan favorite for her "crafty songwriting, inventive covers and beyond her years worldview" (Lehigh Valley Underground). She has performed at many national music events including the Millenium Music Conference and Showcase, the Cape May Singer-Songwriter Festival, the Heroes of Dirt (world movie premier) Festival, and the Electric City Music Festival as well as countless regional festivals including Musikfest, Mayfair, Riverside, Muses in the Vineyard, ArtsFest, Jamaggedon, etc. In addition to her own shows, she’s opened for touring bands as diverse as I the Victor (Jackal tour), Victory Dance (Let’s Get Weird tour), AJ Croix (NJ), and Sarah Blacker and the New England Groove Association (Boston).
She was a Discover Lehigh Valley Best New Artist nominee at age 14 (2014) and an LVMA Industry nominee in 2017 where she also performed a two song Awards Show duet with legendary blues harmonica player, James Supra. She’s trained and presented her music at national conferences in Phoenix and Philadelphia.
Kayla has an ever-growing catalog of original music including her The Difference Between Fine and Okay CD, her Awkward and Absent SP, a new EP expected out in late Summer 2018, and her original music appearing on 4 compilation CDs. She’s been covered in Youth Today, Steel Notes Magazine, Lehigh Valley Underground, and the subject of the Martin Guitar funded documentary “yes i can, yes i will, yes i am” which documented her Youth Artist in Residence role (2014 & 2015) helping connect homeless and at-risk youth with music as well as emceeing the Martin Guitar Singer-Songwriter Series and serving as the alternative music performing artist.
Currently Kayla splits her time between the Lehigh Valley area (PA & NJ) and Boston where she attends Tufts University as an American Studies and Film and Media major.
Artist: Kayla Avitabile
Album: The Difference Between Fine and Okay (BUY NOW)
Genre: Alternative Rock
Prior to the first ever Lehigh Valley Underground First Friday Concert Series earlier this month, we reviewed Kayla Avitabile’s single “Awkward & Absent,” which gives a title to the young singer-songwriter’s debut album, “The Difference Between Fine and Okay.”
As it turns out, the single was a nice introduction to what we can expect from Avitabile, as it contains several key features present throughout the record: ambitious songwriting, profound lyrics, and a voice that may be the most powerful and seasoned among her school-aged contemporaries.
Avitabile is unafraid to experiment on “The Difference Between Fine and Okay,” mixing in tempo shifts to keep listeners captive through six dynamic and unpredictable tracks. The EP, recorded and mixed by Matt Molchany at Shards studio in South Bethlehem, brings the singer’s immense vocal abilities to the forefront, showcasing Avitabile’s range and command that makes her one to keep an ear on going forward.
Awkward & Absent
Review: Josie Presents Kayla Avitabile (Sherman Theater March 4, 2017)
Last issue, we shared a press release for a young singer/songwriter named Kayla who was releasing a single. This month, I had the opportunity to hear her play. I was invited to see her at East Stroudsburg, Sherman Theatre by her manager, Bob Robertson. We spoke a while about Kayla’s high school career – (she’s still in high school, and number 10 in her class) her plans for the future, (college with a degree in possibly social policy??) and her family (she comes from a family of brilliant scholars as well as musicians, her brother Michael plays flute in a classical music ensemble).
She has a passion for music but a gift for maturity beyond her years. I knew by the time dinner was over, that this young lady had an amazing future before her; regardless if she made it in the music industry or not. Her set at the Sherman theatre was part of an alternative music showcase featuring bands such as Sad Lips, Joe Billy, and Summer Scouts. Kayla certainly held her own in a room of differently thinking, musically gifted people. Her lyrics were dotted with angst and her chords were hard and sometimes angry…quite the contrast to her amicable nature and sweet appearance. She has found a voice in her music, and it’s quite an agreeable one!
By the time she was done, I wasn’t sure what she did better – sing or play guitar. Needless to say both were impressive. She has an alternative edge to her lyrics and her playing and her timing is impeccable. The changes and middle eights she writes into her songs have a difficulty level that you wouldn’t expect from an up and coming musician. Her stage presence, although small is stature, was large in confidence.
Thanks to her manager, Bob, I’m attaching a link so you can take a listen. If Kayla is playing in your area – make a point to stop by-you’ll see what I mean. We will keep an eye on her…and I’ll update you as her career grows. I hope to have her on my live interview show this summer, and if I do, you will all certainly have a front row seat!
Music Program Helps Homeless, Runaway Youth Follow Their Dreams Stell Simonton July 21, 2014
Kayla Avitable, 14, performs as part of a concert series created by Valley Youth House, which serves runaway and homeless youth in Pennsylvania. Performers tell about their own lives and struggles and engage the youth in discussions. She steps up to the microphone, strums her guitar and sings out “Tell me why we live like this / keep me safe inside.” It's the song “We are Broken” from the band Paramore.
At 14, Kayla Avitabile is the artist-in-residence at Valley Youth House, which provides shelter and services for homeless and runaway kids through 13 offices in eastern Pennsylvania. The eclectic alternative musician is the featured artist in the first of four Valley Youth House concerts. She’ll introduce the musicians in the upcoming concerts and she’ll meet with kids in small groups and one-on-one to talk about their music and their aspirations. “These kids are so into music,” said Bob Robertson, Executive Vice President of Valley Youth House. Many are talented but are too shy to perform at open-mic events. On July 21, Kayla will lead a workshop called “Open Mic Maybe” at the organization’s Philadelphia Achieving Independence Center. It’s for kids who might like to perform, but don’t feel ready. She’ll also work with some of them individually. Robertson said kids often say “I want to be a rock star” when asked what they want to do in the future. But there’s a very big gap between dreaming about something and taking actual steps toward it. Kids often have little idea of how to begin closing that gap.
Kayla Avitabile performs at Riverside Park, Easton PA. Kayla tells them it’s like being on a sports team: You have to go to practice. “It’s a lot of hard work,” she said. So many people are trying to get into the music business. “Exposure is very important. “You’re going to have to get the people skills,” she said. Part of the process is seeking mentors, Robertson said. “You have to be vulnerable enough to allow people to help you. ”Homeless and runaway youth, however, do not have the support other young people have.
Nearly half of homeless and runaway kids report that conflict at home is a major problem, according to the National Runaway Safeline (NRS). Eighty percent of runaway and homeless girls report having been sexually abused. More than half of kids in shelters and on the street report that their parents told them to leave or didn’t care that they were leaving, according to NRS. And figures show that young people ages 12-17 are more likely than adults to be homeless, according to NRS. Valley Youth House’s goal in the concert series is to connect kids with role models and encourage conversations between musician and audience about each others’ lives and struggles. It’s also to show how skills are acquired through interacting with other people. Founded in 1973, Valley Youth House has a staff of nearly 400. It served more than 14,000 youth last year through its programs, which include behavioral health services. It served an additional 23,000 in partnership with other organizations at its camp facility near Allentown, Pa.
The artist-in-residence program and the concert series are funded with a grant from the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation. Performers in the concert series, in addition to Kayla, who plays gigs in the area and opens for blues musician James Supra, are:
The artist-in-residence program is a new initiative by Valley Youth House. “Everyone’s job is to find your passion,” Robertson said, “and your life will be richer and fuller for it. “It’s a really important message,” he said.