Allison Scola
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Allison Scola

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Duo Folk World




""Sure to dazzle""

One performer sure to dazzle, Allison Scola, will dance the Italian tarantella. “She pulls kids up and teaches them some aspects,” said Elisa Espiritu, director of development for the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council. “That should be really fun and educational as well.” - New York Daily News

""Fresh and Personal""

First I have to start off by saying that I generally don't review "song samplers" because I don't feel they provide the listener with the opportunity to see the full range of who the artist is and what their musical capabilities may be.

However, I think Allison must have heard my thoughts because as soon as I started listening, it was clear that Allison's three song sampler was about to kick my theory to the curb.

The three tracks really showcase Allison's vocal abilities and songwriting skills. She easily conveys the emotion behind the words and you, the listener, believe every word.

Allison has a beautiful tone to her voice; think of a cross between Tori Amos and Sarah McLaughlin and you're almost there. She has this wonderful vulnerability that you don't often hear.

Scola is also a talented songwriter; the lyrics are fresh and personal and I could easily see these tracks played on mainstream radio. -

""Burning Passion""

On the surface, singer/songwriter Allison Scola could be just about anyone. But on the inside, she is a woman with a burning passion. Possessed with an unassuming grace, an earnest and open demeanor, this classically trained New Englander (now a New Yorker), gave up a promising career in advertising to pursue her first love: Music. And on a cold evening in early December, Allison graced the Baggot Inn stage with her newly formed band (as of September 2001), and warmed the chilly hearts of New Yorkers with her melodic and moving piano- driven songs.

The Baggot Inn is a medium-sized music venue, tucked away behind New York University, complete with bar and cozy tables lining the floor before the stage. A pretty cozy and intimate setting, just right for Allison Scola’s brand of emotional pop. The auburn-haired lass took the stage adorned in a fetching black lace stretch top and casual slacks. The look was a perfect complement to her shoulder-length tresses and playful eyes.

Opening with the title track off her October 2001 debut, “Staying Right Here”, a short and pleasant Burt Bacharach-like tune about finding true love, Allison set the mood immediately. Direct and honest, her singing is comforting and all-embracing, like being in the presence of your long lost best friend. Allison made eye contact with the audience at every opportunity, a gesture that is assuredly sincere and not a gimmick. It’s simply indicative of the person she is and it makes her lyrical rendering all the more accessible- as if her songs are all sung for you and you alone.

Allison’s affinity for writing touching, dreamy lyrics can be attributed to her self-admitted admiration for Sarah McLachlan , Kate Bush, and Carole King. But Allison has a special place in her heart for the late Laura Nyro, one of pop music's purest innovators, a native New Yorker, and a prolific singer/composer whose work has been covered by artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to Blood, Sweat and Tears. Allison’s craft is similar to that of Nyro, in that she writes intricate, almost mystical lyrics, fusing jazz, lite soul and ‘70s pop into a delicate tapestry of beautiful music. When Allison sings “Love Always", as she did at the Baggot Inn, one can’t help but be captivated. Now, New York is a tough town, and getting the attention of a New York crowd is an awesome feat. But Allison’s smooth, lush presentation actually succeeded in silencing this usually chatty audience.

“Love Always” was delivered as an extreme ballad, enrapturing and revealing with profound lyrics (.."he signed the card, “Love Always”, though he never said it before/So my nightly dreams are what they seem/ Not a love I can ignore..”). This was an intriguing contrast to “Can’t You Hear Me”, a primarily acoustic-inflected number with a bongos-intro and raw, frank sensuality.

Crystal clear vocals creep up your spine as Allison sings this appeal with subtle, yet undeniable passion. Tori Amos couldn’t have done it better. And when she set herself behind the keys to deliver the robust “See Only Me”, visions of Carole King came readily to mind, but Allison’s voice is immensely more amenable and sweeping.

A 50-minute set was just too short to fully explore all the music Allison Scola has within. And if there is any fairness in this world at all, her star will continue to shine and grow even brighter. During a brief talk after her arresting set, Allison told me, “Life is not worth living unless I can make music. This is what I breathe”. Well, let’s hope that the heavens are kind and Allison Scola gets to make music to her heart’s complete content.

Roxanne Blanford - -

""Quite a Range""

First off, the most disappointing thing about this CD is that it's only 3 songs long.

Scola's voice is reminiscent of Tracy Thorn from Everything But the Girl; and it's beautiful. She has quite a range and hits all the notes right on. The songs are well written and touching. Really lovely.

Stand out songs: All of them! But "Risking a Fall" is my favorite.

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds -

"Allison Scola, Marketeer, Singer/Songwriter"

Most experienced musicians will tell you that mastering the business of marketing is just as important to a successful career as mastering one’s instrument. But few can claim to have balanced the two disciplines as well as Allison Scola.

Before assuming the role of associate director of communications
at Columbia’s School of General Studies in 2005, Scola was an account executive at the Madison Avenue advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather and worked in the advertising department at Sheraton Hotels, among other jobs.

Scola is also an accomplished singer, songwriter and musician who has toured nationally and internationally, and is now preparing to release an album of original songs. “I’ve been living a double life for many years,” she says.

Scola grew up singing and playing both piano and clarinet. After earning a degree in music and theater from the University of Rochester and studying at the Eastman School of Music, she considered her career options. “I was living with my parents and trying to figure out how to get to New York to perform, and I knew I didn’t want to do the waitressing thing,” she recalls.

An interest in international marketing ultimately led to the position at Ogilvy. But juggling the demands of a job in advertising with her creative life—she was studying piano and writing songs at the same time—proved especially difficult.

After moving to Mannes College of Music as director of admissions, where her fellow administrators were also musicians, Scola picked up the clarinet again, toured the Philippines playing chamber music (she used all her vacation time to do so) and rededicated herself to music.

Yet she missed working in marketing, and balancing her performance career with the demands of recruiting was no cakewalk. “If I was going to Colorado, I would book a gig and bring my keyboard on the plane,” she says. “It was insanity.”

It wasn’t until she arrived at Columbia that Scola was finally able to strike a satisfying balance, devoting the right amount of effort to both the marketing and music parts of her life. Over the past couple of years, she’s won the first round of a “Battle of the Bands” contest on CBS News’ Early Show; helped found On Stage Italian American Artists, a group that promotes a positive image of Italian-Americans through
performance; and completed her first album, A Braver Kind.

“I’ve wanted to be a songwriter since I was six years old, and I’ve always wanted to be on the radio—that was my dream as a little girl,” she says.

With any luck, it’s about to come true.

—By Alexander Gelfand, The Columbia Record

Read more on page 9: -

""Heart-felt tunes that reflect her soul""

America is changing. We Americans are embracing our diverse cultural backgrounds in an unprecedented way. Allison Scola embraces her heritage and American story very personally on A Braver Kind, and it's worth a listen. This young woman uses her deep foreign roots and a complete openness to all of world music when creating her songs. You will find many unique sounds on the album, from the short, exotic introduction featuring the Middle Eastern oud to the final fading tones of her clarinet. At the same time, though, the easy pop feel of most of the music is comfortable and familiar. Heart-felt tunes that reflect her soul such as “My Naked Heart” lie alongside light pop tunes like “Jump,” making for a fascinating mix reflecting many influences.

As far as pop influences go,”In Your Arms” has moments that are quite reminiscent of Jewel's “Standing Still.” In fact, there are more than a few similarities between the two artists, with the main difference being Scola's employment of a wider variety of instruments and musical styles. “Your Key” is a heartfelt tune that thematically could be Scola's version of “I Can't Make You Love Me” though again the music is all Scola's and not so similar to Bonnie Raitt's. On the more traditional end of the spectrum, “Amore Amore” is very like an Italian (rather than Southern Gospel) rendering of “Down to the River to Pray” from “O Brother Where Art Thou”with Allison Scola taking the lead instead of Alison Krauss.

I have only one true criticism of the album. The use of drum loops on “My Naked Heart” and “I Want to Touch You” lend the songs a canned sound that has to be overcome by the rest of the music - which does overcome that initial sound. The use of folk instruments such as accordion and mandola and classical instruments such as clarinet really help the music to stand out from average pop music. Now this is not to say that all use of electronics on the album are bad! “My Naked Heart” also has some interesting synthesized effects that add to rather than taking away. Overall, this is an enjoyable album. It seems familiar in it's freshness, because it is pop with something more. That something more is Scola's history, honesty, and originality.

-Donny Harvey - -


Staying Right Here (2001)
Song Sampler (2004)
A Braver Kind (2008)
Joni Mitchell's Blue: A 40th Anniversary Celebration (2012)
TBA (2014)



About Villa Palagonia (duo with Joe Ravo)

Eclectic acoustic brushed with hues from Mediterranean folk is the avenue on which the band Villa Palagonia perches—yet the side streets and dusty alleyways that these musicians travel offer engaging timbres that are woven together by songs imparting tales of the old world and the new. 

Founded in 2013 by multifaceted guitarist Joe Ravo and multi-instrumentalist and singer Allison Scola, Villa Palagonia calls upon its members’ southern Italian roots and American know-how to create original music peppered with elements from traditional Sicilian and Italian folk songs. Joe Ravo is a versatile guitarist who has performed alongside the likes of Dave Brubeck and Stanley Turrentine and traveled around the world as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. Allison Scola is most familiar to folk audiences because of her performance as part of Chicks with Dip’s Joni Mitchell’s Blue Celebration. As a solo artist, she has performed at venues as grand as Shea Stadium, as kitschy as CBS Morning News’ Living Room Live, and as intimate as her cousin’s patio in Bagheria, Sicily where the world-renowned chateau Villa Palagonia exists.

Allison’s paternal grandmother, who immigrated to New York in the 1920s, grew up in Bagheria in the shadow of Villa Palagonia. It’s a place she and Joe have visited many times; and the villa, a place that they find intriguing and inspirational because of the 72 odd and mystical monster-statues that line the estate’s grounds. Bagheria is at the crossroads—between barons and peasants, between lemon orchards and fig orchards, between mountains and sea, between Europe and Africa, and between ancient mysteries and modern realities. Both the historic site and the band capture a unique essence—capture a place: where north, south, east, west, and humanity collide. 

About Allison Scola

After months of working 12 -14 hour days at a top New York advertising agency, songwriter and singer Allison Scola realized that she had missed her true destination by just a few hundred yards: That moment was when she discovered that day in and day out on her way to the office, she had been walking right past the Brill Building, the songwriting headquarters of the 1940s to 1970s. Within hours she quit her job, and since has thrown herself into crafting songs and performing.

Allisons dedication and talent shows her 2004 Song Sampler received rave reviews from and and landed her a place in the national Chick Singer Night showcase, the On Stage Italian American Artists showcase, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame New Writers showcase. In addition, her song "Something Better Waiting" reaped a Finalist Position in the 2005 Hank Williams Songwriting Contest, and "Risking a Fall" won her a 3rd Place prize in the 2005 SolarFest Singer-Songwriter Competition.

In 2006, Scola performed in New Yorks Columbus Day Parade, and in 2007 she wooed audiences during her Italian Day pre-game performances at the New York Mets Shea Stadium and Staten Island Yankees Stadium. In the summer of 2007, her band, Allison Scola Project, was voted a finalist in the CBS News Early Show Living Room Live! Battle of the Bands Contest.

Scola creates songs that weave hues of her Italian heritage and fascination with Mediterranean folk culture together with personal accounts of her experience as a modern American artist taking risks in love and life. Her 2008 album "A Braver Kind," produced by Janie Barnett and engineered and mixed by Jon Gordon, illustrates her power as a songwriter and musician--as confirmed by an Honorable Mention Award in the 2009 Billboard Magazine World Song Competition for her song "My Naked Heart."

Since January 2012, Scola has been touring throughout the Northeast giving performances at venues such as New York's City Winery, Philadelphia's World Cafe' Live, Albany's The Linda, and Montclair's Outpost in the Burbs with Chicks with Dip--a group of which she is a founding member--as part of "Joni Mitchell's Blue: A 40th Anniversary Celebration." Along with Meg Braun, Anna Dagmar, Honor Finnegan, Sharon Goldman, Victoria Lavington, Catherine Miles, Karyn Oliver, Elisa Peimer, Cheryl Prashker, Carolann Solebello, and Allison Tartalia, she recorded a full-length re-imagining of Joni Mitchell's classic Blue album which was named a 2012 Best of Staff Picks by WFUV's John Platt.

In 2013, along with versatile guitarist Joe Ravo, Allison created Villa Palagonia, a eclectic acoustic folk ensemble. 

With a voice that's been described by as "comforting and all-embracing, like being in the presence of your long lost best friend," Allison transports listeners to a world where hearts are bursting and dreams come true.

Band Members