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  • By Dana Casadei

Lia Catallo

Monday through Friday, Lia Catallo is a pretty average teenager. She goes to school, she plays softball, and performs with the Motor City Irish dance group. On weekends though, she’s anything but typical.

That’s when the singer/songwriter can be found in venues all across the state, performing covers and original pieces with her guitar or on the piano. Over the last few years the high school sophomore has written and recorded over 25 songs.

She’s also played over 125 times in her – so far – short career, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, where she participated in their Tri-C Rock Off. Out of all the places she’s played so far, that one was an easy favorite.

“That was nerve-wracking. I was nervous for that,” Catallo said. “It was such a great experience and I loved doing that. I didn’t place but I had a lot of fun, and I came in fifth.”

The Rochester resident has come a long way since the first performance she remembers, which was “When Christmas Comes to Town” from “Polar Express” when she was about five.

While she was nervous, there was something about being on stage and getting to reach people through her voice that she really connected with. She might still get a little nervous but being able to connect to people though her music outweighs her nerves.

“I feel like when I songwrite I can connect more because I can get my emotions out,” she said. “But it all goes hand-in-hand. I enjoy doing all of it.”

She is currently working on putting out an EP and getting ready for her summer shows, including the Auburn Hills’ Summerfest on June 22, where she will continue her mix of covers and original pieces.

Catallo’s originals range from “Stronger,” which is about battling cancer, to her personal favorite, “Home,” focused on God.

“I got home from a mission trip last year and I was just really inspired,” Catallo said. “I was praying and I just felt like God told me He is my home.”

She said her mom, Jennifer Kincer – who is her manager and vocal coach – also influences her music. Being around songwriters at her mom’s studio actually was what inspired her to start writing her own songs.

She’s also inspired by John Mayer, whose style she really connects to. She considers her own music more acoustic pop than anything else.

There isn’t one specific demographic she’s hoping to reach either; she thinks her music can appeal to everybody.

“I hope that they catch on to whatever they need in the moment, like whatever they need to hear,” she said. “I hope that they (with my faith-based songs) connect back to God and somehow find Him on their path.”

So far, she’s received positive feedback from the Rochester community, who have been very supportive along her journey, including her mom and dad.

Since both of her parents are musicians who work in the business, they were excited when she told them she wanted to pursue this professionally, and make a career out of it. She hopes to do this the rest of her life, and eventually tour.

“I feel like I’ve always known...I just have a passion for it, and it’s just in me,” she said.

For right now though, she’s going to continue being a pretty atypical teenager. At least on weekends.

Photo: Laurie Tennent

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