Ava Earl
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Ava Earl

Girdwood, AK | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Girdwood, AK | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Folk Americana


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"Meet Ava Earl, the youngest solo act on Salmonfest’s main stage"

Most 14-year-olds spend the summer thinking about starting high school. Ava Earl spent the summer preparing to perform on the main stage at the largest summer festival in Alaska.

It's a big step; last year she performed on the smaller River Stage. "I think last year when I performed it was kind of a test," Ava said. "I'm young; a lot of people don't want an inexperienced musician on the main stage of Salmonfest."

Ava is a confident teenager with a bright smile and wild, curly hair. Raised in Anchorage and Girdwood, she enjoys the outdoors and drawing. She began playing music when she was 5, starting on the pennywhistle before her mother enrolled her in guitar lessons with Melanee Stiassny. She had a natural affinity for guitar, and soon Stiassny encouraged her songwriting.

Her parents were supportive of her growing passion for music; they gifted Ava with the opportunity to record her first album, "Chronicles of a Best Friend," for her 12th birthday. "My first album … I'm not exactly sure how to theme. I think I was a little overwhelmed by myself at the time," Ava said.

"Those songs, most of them I didn't even know what I was singing about. The first album was less based in reality and … I think it just came out of me and exploded."

Tracks like "JR" speak to Ava's youth and the joy that comes with being young and hanging out with friends. But there are also songs where Ava's lyrics are mature beyond her years, such as the melancholy tracks "Wonder" and "Control."

Things picked up quickly for Ava after the release of her debut album. One major step was getting a manager. Her mother, Shannon Earl, was in charge of booking and managing Ava's shows in the early days; that role was eventually handed over to family friend and local musician Julia Issac. In the year and a half since the two joined forces, she opened for The Last Revel and Austin Miller, booked larger gigs and recorded a second, self-titled album.

Released May 26, "Ava Earl" was recorded at The Hallowed Halls in Portland, Oregon. Ava wrote all the lyrics herself, co-producing the record with Hawkins Wright. It was an important experience, Ava said, in part because she learned how to be more open to outside suggestion during the writing process.

Ava said her first album was "very experimental." It was her first time in the studio and her mother Shannon and producer Kurt Reimann tried to tell Ava as little as possible. Whatever instruments she wanted to hear in a song, they did their best to accommodate.

For the second album, "I wanted to make a CD that really reflected how I play live," Ava said.

As a result, there are fewer contributors on "Ava Earl" than her previous record. Andy Mullen joined her on guitar and bass; Anna Tivel played violin; and her younger sister, Hadley, was featured as a guest vocalist.

Ava calls Mullen a "musical inspiration and a great mentor."

"He's like my partner in crime now," Ava said.

Working with Mullen in the studio helped Ava learn how to collaborate with other artists. "At first I was like, 'Yeah, whatever goes!' But then I got locked up in my own little world," Ava said. "He'd be like, 'Can I do a solo here?' and I'd be like, 'Y'know, let me think about it … that would be a good idea.'"

"I've had to open my eyes a little bit wider and he's really helped me do that."

With two studio albums under her belt and a successful set on the River Stage at last year's Salmonfest, it's no surprise that Ava was invited back to the festival this year. Now 14, Ava is probably the youngest person to ever play the Ocean Stage, Salmonfest's main stage.

"I can't recall anybody that young playing Salmonstock or Salmonfest," Jim Stearns, Salmonfest festival director and producer, said via telephone. "I can't recall anyone younger than 25 ever playing."

Ava is slated to play the opening set Saturday morning. With more than 8,000 people visiting the Kenai Peninsula Fair grounds annually for Salmonfest, it will be the largest crowd that Ava has ever played for.

With her music career quickly propelling forward, one of the biggest questions on Ava's mind is where she imagines music taking her, especially as she starts high school in South Anchorage. Despite being a freshman, she's already thinking ahead.

"Honestly, when I go to college I don't want to get a music degree," Ava said. "I want music to be something that continues throughout the rest of my life. I'm not sure where it will take me in the future, but for now this is enough for me and I'm just happy to be doing it."

Zakiya McCummings is a features intern at Alaska Dispatch News. She has worked as a reporter for the Anchorage Press, The Associated Press and Salon. Follow her on Twitter: @realzakiya.

Ava Earl

When: 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Saturday

Where: Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds, 16200 Sterling Highway, Ninilchik

Tickets: $65-$145. Visit salmonfestalaska.org for details. - Anchorage Daily News

"An exciting summer for Ava Earl"

By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette

Thirteen-year old Girdwood girl Ava Earl has had a summer to remember, and it’s only halfway over. Fresh from her first appearance at the Girdwood Forest Fair, Earl is currently working on a four-song EP to be included on her new album, which will be released later. She has a number of appearances scheduled throughout the region this summer, including Salmonfest in Ninilchik during the first weekend in August. What was most unexpected for her was being Devin Boyer’s visual storytelling subject for a military photojournalists workshop, a contest in which he was awarded first place.

Boyer is a Photojournalist Journeyman for the 17th Training Wing Public Affairs Office at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. Every year there is a Department of Defense visual storytelling workshop for military photojournalists and videographers, and this year was his second time participating. Contestants must apply, be accepted to the workshop and travel to where it is being held. This year it was Anchorage.

The workshop’s main goal is to create a photo story on a subject, but its other goal is to develop the skills of military photojournalists and videographers by pairing them with successful, highly experienced mentors with military or civilian photography experience. Mentors teach story telling through imagery, and Boyer said it is a great learning experience that has pushed his photography skills to new levels. You can see his first place images at: https://www.facebook.com/DODWMPW/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1079477788790502.

Workshop members must conduct research beforehand to identify and study a subject. Boyer was researching subject ideas in Anchorage Press when he came upon the article about Ava Earl in the October 1, 2015 issue.

“She had just recorded her first album,” Boyer said. “I started listening to her music, and it’s unique folk/rock music. This is crazy, a 12-year old girl playing this kind of music. It’s different. You don’t really hear that everywhere. Most young teenagers want to replicate the music of some pop star from L.A.”

Boyer was awarded first place the workshop for his photos documenting a few days of Earl’s life. All of the projects were presented on the last day of the shop, and photojournalists had a 10 images maximum limit. Local news outlets in Anchorage provided the judges, who look for visual interpretation and everything that goes into storytelling. Twenty-four photojournalists and videographers submitted entries.

“It is a life-changing workshop,” Boyer said. “It definitely teaches you a lot about photojournalism at a realm that is almost foreign to most photographers. The first thing you think about when you get into the job is ‘I’ve got these really cool photos.’ So what’s the story? That’s always what the question is. It’s definitely a life changing experience, especially for being a military photographer.”

Boyer lives at Goodfellow AFB where he takes photos every day. He frequently asks himself questions to find new subjects or angles with the familiar material he sees around the base. He challenges himself to find something different or to see from a new perspective to tell a compelling story with images.

“How can I go beyond what I am used to? Another thing the course taught us was just getting out there and talking to people,” Boyer said. “Once you open someone up, you discover things that you didn’t know. You would have no clue that something like that existed with them.”

Boyer’s approach leads to new subjects and photographic possibilities. The story becomes about something different because he brought that information out of the person and the world gets to see a new side. Talking to people and socializing is where the stories come from, he said. Boyer used this knowledge during three days of photographing Earl in her natural environment simply living her life.

Earl found the photographic subject experience exciting because she is not shy around cameras.

“It was not what I was used to and it was also kind of fun because I could let someone else have a look at my life,” Earl said. “I was mostly just doing the normal things that I do. I worked really hard that week because I was doing the Girdwood Youth Showcase, and so I had a couple of practices with the kids. I also practiced myself for Forest Fair.”

Boyer photographed Earl at different times of day such as eating breakfast and brushing her teeth before bed to try to capture ten memorable images that told a story about the singer/songwriter and how she lives. Earl was pleased with the results.

“I thought they were great,” Earl said. “They told a story, and they did that very well. Also, they were just fun, and they were me. It was what I do and how I act. I play guitar and I teach kids stuff.”

Just as Boyer is expanding his technical skills as a photographer, Earl is developing her repertoire as a musician. She is willing to try new ideas and use instruments other than the guitar when composing songs because the results lead to new directions.

“If I’m in a creative mindset, I just go downstairs and do stuff on my guitar,” Earl said. “I think the hardest part is coming up with guitar chords because I’ve written a lot of songs now and I’m trying to come up with something different on the guitar. Sometimes I go to the piano or the ukulele.”

Earl started performing four years ago, so she is confident and comfortable during live sets. Now her goal is to work on her stage presence. She observes performers she admires and tries to learn from them. Earl says it’s easier for her to play on stage than it is to speak there, but she said she is getting better at explaining her songs, bantering with the audience and having fun when performing.

“What I like about my music is that I can share it with people,” Earl said, “because when I’m not onstage, I talk a lot, so people kind of get used to me being talky. When I perform, I feel like I get a little more attention for what I have to say, especially because I’m young, people listen to me because they’re not used to young performers as much as adult performers. I feel I should get my message out there. Being heard is important too.” - Glacier City Gazette

"Alaska music scene in 2015 marked by new venues, albums and some unexpected shakeups"

In 2015, change in the Alaskan music scene was as ubiquitous as the resolute spirit of the state's musical artists and fans. With new bands, new releases, new venues and new owners at time-honored establishments, it was tough to keep up with all that was fresh and different.

At two longtime music and entertainment venues -- Chilkoot Charlie's and the Tap Root Public House -- new owners have already started to implement their visions for Anchorage's nightlife experience.

And those two venues gained some competition. Williwaw, a new space that combines restaurant, bar, coffee house and concert venue, opened downtown last year.

There were also a few surprises.

Jack White's "secret show" in late April provided two firsts -- his inaugural performance in Alaska and what he declared as his first-ever all-acoustic performance.

Mötley Crüe? dotted the state on its retirement tour and Road to Van's Warped Tour returned for a second year. Even the state's biggest festival, Salmonfest, underwent a name change, although its sonic substance did not.

Alaska Dispatch News enlisted a battery of local promoters, artists and aficionados to give their take on the year that was in Alaska music.

Best show by a local artist in 2015

Jenni May Toro, lead singer, The Modern Savage: While it's always a pleasure to catch the Super Saturated Sugar Strings, their performance in the atrium of the Anchorage Museum for the event Future Tense was unique and playful. They're magnetic performers, and the band was fully outfitted for the future, which added a funky element to the show.

Garren Volper, bassist, High Lonesome Sound, Anna Lynch Band, Anchorage Folk Festival vice president: Todd Grebe & Cold Country's album release party at Tap Root this summer. One of Alaska's best songwriters + tightest rhythm section in the state = big time dance party!

Katie Medred, Beat and Pulse, Alaska: The June release show for Evan Phillips' new solo album "Silhouettes" would be first for me. Phillips cobbled together an impressive group of musicians, including Seattle's Courtney Marie Andrews, Matt Rowland of Nashville and local members of the Whipsaws and Ghost Hands. In a close second place, though, was the Zenith Suspension Team show at the 5th Avenue Event Hall featuring hardcore bands Yeoman and Lamplighter, and black metal band They Leapt From Burning Buildings, plus emotional synth group H?zia. That was a night.

Mike McCormick, Whistling Swan Productions: Arctic Entries and Parlor in the Round.

Laura Oden, Anchorage Music Co-op: The best show by far in Alaska that showcases local artists is hands down Parlor In The Round. ?

Evan Phillips, The Whipsaws, Monolith Agency: It's a tie: Super Saturated Sugar Strings at Tap Root and The Modern Savage EP release show at Bear Tooth.

Sarah Pederson, Family Tree Presents: Delmag has been around for a really long time and they are always great to watch live but their set at Road To Warped Tour in June was pretty spectacular. They just killed it and they played for a much younger crowd than usual so I'm hoping they gained some new fans that day.

Raymond Flores, ShowDown Productions: It's tough to pick just one show from our homegrown artists, but we can give you a few of our most memorable. Emma Hill and her band playing in the middle of the woods in a serene landscape during the outdoor Spectrum Arts and Music Festival is something I will personally always remember. One of the best crowds we witnessed all year was during the Rikki Tikki B2B Laserwolf set at Williwaw this fall, and lastly the reunion of T.I.A at the Andrew WK show was a great time along with proving the fan base local musicians have.

Carlyle and Theresa Watt, Super Saturated Sugar Strings: Evan Phillips with Courtney Marie Andrews and Band at Studio 2200.

Favorite show you saw by any artist, anywhere

Toro: Seeing Jane's Addiction perform was a teenage daydream realized for me. It was pouring rain in Anchorage that day, and in true-blue Alaskan style, the Moose's Tooth parking lot was filled with people rocking full force in their ponchos.

Volper: The California Honeydrops, duh! They headlined the Anchorage Folk Festival in January and tore it up! Salmonfest brought them back in August, which was great. But there is nothing like witnessing a crowd lose it at a band's first AK appearance. UAA Concert Board brought up Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires in February, that's a close second.

Medred: The Strand of Oaks shows in Anchorage. (Dear God. So good.) And the Wild Ones EP release show at Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon. Additionally, there were some really great house shows with Harm, Termination Dust and others this year, too.

McCormick: Rhiannon Giddens at the Discovery Theatre.

Oden: I was blown away by the Rhiannon Giddens show at the PAC this spring. She came with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and though they were exhausted from travel, and not entirely in sync with the crowd, she fiddled and banjo'd herself into oblivion and completely mesmerized the audience. Nicely done sister.

Phillips: Ha Ha Tonka at Tap Root in October.

Pederson: I went to Pain In The Grass at White River Amphitheater (Washington) in August and Slipknot, Lamb of God and Bullet For My Valentine were all amazing. Crobot definitely deserves honorable mention as well.

Watts: The Dave Rawlings Machine in Atlanta.

Favorite album by an Alaska artist/band in 2015

Toro: The self-titled EP Duchess released in April charmed me. In the vein of The Pixies or The Weakerthans, the guitars are sparkly and Jacob's vocal work feels earnest and emotive.

Volper: Todd Grebe & Cold Country. Great mix of local musicians on the record, as well as some of my fave Nashville cats (do people still say that?). I sing along in my car and shower on the regs (that's right, Todd).

Medred: I really liked Balloon's shoegazy double EP releases "Lost In White" and "Found In Black." The pair of recordings appeared out of nowhere in the spring. Both "Lost In White" and "Found in Black" are a little rough around the edges, but the bones are solid and lovely.

Oden: Ava Earl "Chronicles of a Best Friend." This kid has been writing some rather insightful songs since she was 9 and has been performing at the under 21 open mic ever since. She has the knack for meaningful lyrics, performing in front of people with? a sweet siren voice. Don't be fooled, this isn't serendipity, she's really honing her craft of songwriting and performing.

Phillips: Great Elk, "Star Stuff."

Pederson: "Time And Trauma" by 36 Crazyfists is one of my favorite albums of 2015. It's one of the best albums they have ever written.

Flores: Granddad and The Modern Savage both had really great releases this year, hoping to see more from the locals in 2016.

Watts: Evan Phillips, "Silhouettes."

Who is a little-known Alaska artist/band poised for a breakout in 2016?

Volper: The Hannah Yoter Band! HYB has been gigging for a few years now, but they keep getting better with each show and Hannah keeps writing amazing songs. Evan Phillips will be producing her debut album this March. Literally. Can't. Wait.

Medred: It's always hard to know what exactly constitutes as a "breakout" when you're from Alaska, but I have to say that Kittiwake's new EP, titled "Estival," was unexpected and quite interesting. Kittiwake is Laila O'Sullivan's side project. O'Sullivan is an enigmatic Fairbanksan with a Fiona Apple-esque lyrical quality and a real occult-y backwoods flavor. She's best known for her vocals and clarinet work in the Fairbanks band Harm. And although, all the members of Harm are fantastic and the group's 2015 release was among my top local albums of the year, O'Sullivan's EP was a standout for me. Mostly, because like Harm, the sound is so unexpected from what is usually heard coming out of Alaska.

Oden: ?Yada Di?. If you've seen them live, you get it. Nobody in Alaska is doing anything like these three circumpolar musicians. From Alaska, Norway and Russia, they combine rap, jazz, rock and classical that makes you want to be a better human. Plus dance a lot.

Phillips: Harm.

Pederson: I hope three answers is OK for this one. One of my favorite new, young metal bands is Atlas. Once they gain some momentum and play more shows I think a lot of people will be impressed at how good they are live, especially because they are so new. My second one for this is a band with more experienced members but the band is new, and that's Part Time Super Heroes. They are going to come out kicking in 2016 and I hope more people pay attention to them. Last but not least is Transitions. They are playing music unlike anyone in Alaska right now and it's refreshing and they are a joy to watch play.

Flores: Really enjoying what (DJ) Tony H and his newly locally founded Late Night Munchies label has been doing in Alaska. There's a lot of potential and great creativity going on there.

Watts: Harm.

Which band from Outside would you like to see in Alaska in 2016?

Toro: I hope to see Screaming Females in Alaska in the coming year. They're a female-fronted post-punk group from New Jersey. Frontwoman Marissa Paternoster's voice is unique and commanding. Their music is melodic and moveable, gripping its punk roots.

Volper: I hope to see new bands that are fresh to Alaska rather than the same ol' stuff. Specifically, I want Chris Stapleton to sing my face off ... pretty please, Anchorage Concert Association??

Medred: Luckily, and thanks to Tap Root and the Monolith Agency, we will all get a chance to see one of my "wish list" bands this year. 1990s-born Minnesota "slowcore" band Low will play two shows in Anchorage Jan. 15-16. It should be a good set of shows. After that, I'd love it if someone brought up Russian Circles, Chelsea Wolfe, Marriages and/or Purity Ring.

McCormick: Jason Moran.

Oden: ?Gogol Bordello. Nothing beats Klezmer punk.

Phillips: Deer Tick.

Pederson: I have always wanted to bring Deftones to Alaska but it's proven to be difficult over the years. I hope they read this and realize how many fans they have up here that want to see them.

Flores: Any and every artist we bring up! But in all seriousness, Nine Inch Nails has always been on our bucket list.

Watts: Cloud Cult, Dark Dark Dark, St. Vincent, Sigur Ros, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, Jenny Lewis.

What’s your favorite Alaska band from outside Anchorage?

Toro: Fairbanks-based Harm is provocative and dreamy. Reminiscent of CocoRosie, their genre-melding of folk and hip-hop feels fresh and compelling.

Volper: The Great Alaska Bluegrass Band outta Juneau!

Medred: Harm, of Fairbanks, followed by Granddad, also of Fairbanks.

McCormick: Robin Ford and Pat Fitzgerald.

Oden:? I really like the Young Fangs.

Phillips: Animal Eyes.

Pederson: I'm a huge fan of Blackwater Railroad Company from Seward.

Flores: We've always been a fan of the two Fairbanks acts, The Scurvies and The Avery Wolves. Awesome people, great performers, and they have all been playing shows for quite some time.

Name three or four musicians that would make up your fictional Alaska supergroup

Toro: I would have Greg Geddes of Hazia and Ghost Hands on drums, James Glaves of Ghost Hands and the Chromies on guitar or bass, Chad Reynvaan of The Chromies on guitar or bass and Kat Moore of the Super Saturated Sugar Strings and The Chromies playing whatever she wants (and singing of course). Basically, I'm still waiting for my invitation to join Ghost Hands or The Chromies.

Volper: Ooooh, that's too tough. It would really depend on the genre. I'm going to reinterpret the question a little -- drummer and singer Andy King would be in my dream The Band tribute act, Melissa Mitchell would front a straight-up classic soul band, and I've always wanted to hear Jared Woods with a pop bluegrass backing band sound.

Medred: I would love to see a local all-female black metal band. Ladies! I challenge you.

McCormick: Linda Rosenthal, Aaron Benolkin, Stu Schulman, Sharman Piper.

Oden: ?Gov. Bill Walker on bass, Meg Mackey on vocals, Nick Moe on guitar and DeeDee Jonrowe on drums.

Phillips: Steven Bacon, Carlyle "Guitarlyle" Watt, Theresa Watt and Aaron Benolkin (aka Rock & Roll Jesus).

Flores: Talent is found in all music spectrums here, and it's fantastic. I would love to hear what Winston Monticello (of Turquoise Boy, T.I.A, Bad Friday), Snarley Brown, James Glaves (Ghost Hands), Avery Irish (Lamplighter) and Jens Timmers (Griffith, Rival Turf) would come up with.

Watts: Kat Moore, Logan Bean, Miriah Phelps and Kevin Worrell.

What was the most exciting development of the Alaska music scene in 2015?

Toro: Revamping of old venues and new venues opening. Tap Root's been revitalized under new ownership. Humpy's new music venue Williwaw opening downtown is huge for Alaskan musicians and concertgoers. The space is large enough to support outside acts and was built specifically with music in mind. Recently, we got news that 49th State Brewing Company purchased the Snow Goose Theater, and I'm excited to see what happens on that stage in the coming year.

With more places for musicians to play, and more Lower 48 artists making the trek to Alaska to perform, 2016 looks bright.

Volper: New venues!

Medred: Growth of venues! Tap Root's small (but significant) new touches, the opening of Williwaw, the push for local DIY shows at Flying Chinook, the 5th Avenue Event Hall and Pasta Avanti will help keep the scene vibrant and alive. Venue space is key. It's so important. I can't stress that enough.

McCormick: New venues opening in several communities.

Oden: ?I think we will see a greater collaboration between arts and business in Anchorage. This is a town that wants to be an interesting place to live and have interesting things to do. Music will play an important role in Anchorage's future.?

Phillips: There is a really strong punk/indie/DIY scene happening with bands in Anchorage and Fairbanks. There is more collaboration and interaction between different genres and styles, which is making for a positive and unified community. I really like that.

Pederson: Having Road To Warped Tour for the second year in a row was a huge accomplishment for Alaska. It has taken a lot of money, time and work by a lot of people in Anchorage to make that show happen and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of it. I hope we can make it happen year after year.

Watts: There were a lot of great Alaskan musicians getting recognition outside of the state, as well as lots of touring the Lower 48. We're excited to see all of the worldwide attention local bands will bring.

Describe the Alaska music scene of 2015 in 15 words or less

Toro: An Alaskan Music Scene Haiku:

Progress, growing pains

Dirtier sound, devil may care

Recycle bandmates

Volper: Progressing. AK musicians moving back home (thumbs up emoji)!

Medred: Young, fun and a little more punk than last year.

McCormick: Community oriented on multiple levels. Many mutually supportive participants.

Oden: Good songwriting.

Flores: A larger-than-life love of community, art, expression and talent in the Last Frontier.

Phillips: Bands form, bands break up, bands tour, bands take breaks. Some things never change. - Alaska Dispatch News

"Big Things In A Small Package"

When thinking about what a 12-year-old musician looks and acts like, it’s highly unlikely that an Ava Earl would come to mind. With a mature, professional demeanor in evidence even before hitting her teenager years, Ava Earl defies expectations. She introduces herself with a handshake and a warm smile, offering up small talk about her most recent day at school as a 7th grader at Girdwood Elementary.

Ava grew up in Anchorage, but says that her family moved around a lot. When she was young she started playing the pennywhistle, an instrument similar to the recorder. After her pennywhistle teacher moved away she spent a short and not-so-sweet time playing the flute. “I wasn’t quite ready for that,” she admits. “It’s a hard instrument to play.”

Eventually, after moving to Girdwood, her mother enrolled her in guitar lessons with Melanee Stiassny and her musicality truly began to blossom. “I would kind of change a song and she would applaud it instead of correcting me,” Ava explains. From there Melanee worked with Ava to create sing-alongs as well as melodies, and in third grade she officially began songwriting. “It comes pretty naturally to me, but now that I’m writing more frequently I’ve got to work harder at because I’ve got new goals and more stuff going on,” Ava says.

With the support of her mother and father she started doing open nights at Middle Way Café’s 21 and under show. Then she did a folk-arts camp that succeeded in getting her more excited about playing music. Finally, on her 12th birthday her mom surprised her with a special birthday gift: she was going to record an album.

Ava worked with Kurt Riemann and co-produced her album. “He would be like, ‘Ava, what do you hear on this [song]? What would you like?’” Ava’s mother, Shannon Earl, explains. “At one point I was like, ‘You know, I think if you can’t find certain people to play these instruments it’s okay.’ And he replied, ‘No, I think women especially are used to hearing the word no, so let’s start with yes.’”

The album took about six months to complete; Ava is still, after all, a kid. There was homework to be done, grades to consider. She admits that it can be tricky to manage it all. “This weekend I had a topography map of Girdwood due but I also had a show to play. I had to stay up super late to get it done,” Ava says. Like most things, learning how to prioritize her various responsibilities was trial and error. Ava is determined, however, to stick to her word when she says she’ll do a show. “When I sign up for a gig I tell myself I’m not going to waver,” Ava explains. So far, she hasn’t had to turn down a show in favor of her schooling.

Ava is in high demand; this year she got a spot on the Alaska Folk Festival stage and Girdwood Forest Fair stage for the second year in a row. “[The Forest Fair] was really fun because that was my first hour-long set,” Ava says. Following her successful show at the Forest Fair, Alyeska Resort invited her to play the Fiddlehead Music Festival and the Blueberry Music Festival. She was also honored with a biweekly Wednesday set at Girdwood’s Jack Sprat restaurant.

Things are looking bright for Ava, who says the best part of being on stage is having all eyes on her. “You don’t get that every day, especially if you’re young. People pass you off as just a kid. But when I’m onstage I can share my view of the world and people actually listen.”

What does the future hold for Ava Earl? If she has things her way, it’ll all culminate with a invite to NPR’s Mountain Stage, an internationally-distributed weekly, two-hour live performance program produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Short-term, she plans on continuing to seek out opportunities. “There’s a lot of nice people I’ve met that have helped me: my music teacher, Melanee’s father, Marty Raney, got me my first show on Thanksgiving at Alyeska. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all support me. It’s just a really great environment to be growing up in,” Ava explains.

More than anything Ava is thankful for the community in Girdwood supporting her since day one. “My town is really great,” Ava says. “Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Ava Earl’s debut album, Chronicles of a Best Friend, is available for purchase at cdbaby.com. For more information about Ava Earl, including gigs and booking, visit avaearl.com. - Anchorage Press


Am I Me Yet, 2018 (July)

Ava Earl, 2017

Chronicles of a Best Friend, 2015



Ava Earl is a young singer-songwriter from Girdwood, Alaska. She's got a talent that matches her work ethic, recording three albums of original music in her short 15 years.

Her latest set of songs, "Am I Me Yet?" is scheduled for release in July 2018, and is the second work recorded at The Hallowed Halls in Portland, Oregon, with sound engineer and co-producer Hawkins Wright. Joining Ava on the album is Alaska musician Andy Mullen and Portland-based touring musician Anna Tivel.

Ava has played extensively throughout Alaska and has shared festival billings with major acts like The Indigo Girls and Jewel. In November 2017, Maggie Rogers selected Ava to open her Anchorage show at the end of a year-long tour.

Band Members