Olivia Rodrigo is a soulful artist with a rare gift for emotive and empathic songwriting. “I think I’m good at knowing how people feel, how I feel, and being able to capture that,” the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter-actor shares.
Her keen sense for conveying feeling has served her well, thus far. Olivia is the star of Disney’s High School Musical series streaming now on Disney+. Acting has been something of a newish development for her. Singing since she was 4, Olivia took up acting based on a recommendation from her vocal coach. “Acting and music relate in that they are both about capturing feelings and moments as accurately as you can,” she shares.
Olivia exudes an intriguing paradox of being both exuberantly youthful and, sagely, an old soul. She seeks authenticity and bold expression in her music. “My favorite songs are brutally honest and give a vivid look into the artist’s life and mind,” she says. “Honest storytelling is my ultimate goal.” A select cross section of her influences include artists as diverse as Fiona Apple, Jack White, PJ Harvey, and Phoebe Bridgers. Olivia’s worlds of acting, singing and songwriting meet when she performs two original songs she wrote, as well as HSM classics, on the series.
“Writing for HSM was surreal, to say the least. The fact that they gave a 16-year-old a shot to write for such a big project is so awesome.” She continues: “I think the perspective of a teenage girl is so powerful, and something that doesn’t always gets harnessed in its full capacity, too.”
As a kindergartener, Olivia took voice lessons, and then later piano lessons. At age 12, she began playing guitar. It was during this time that she began writing songs. “I remember coming up with melodies and lyrics and writing them down in this pink fluffy notebook that I had won at some arcade. I still keep that notebook on my bedside table,” she says, laughing. Olivia is currently in the studio working on her debut EP.
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