Columbia College Student Tears Through the Music Scene With R&B

Anna Agosta writes, sings and performs her own music hoping to make it big in her city of Chicago.
September 7, 2017
7 mins read

Anna Agosta first discovered her passion for singing and performing during elementary school, when she had her first solo in her school’s annual holiday concert. When she reached the age of fourteen, she started to pursue her interest more fully by writing her own music. Now a senior at Columbia College in Chicago, she has taken her dedication to the next level, recently debuting her first single “Never Fall” and completing an EP to be released in early September. A modern R&B soul artist, she is also pursuing a major in Music and is exploring the business side of the music industry as well with a minor in Music Business. She has also moved on to bigger and better performances, recently taking first place in Biggest Mouth, Columbia College’s version of Battle of the Bands.

Agosta traces her love for music all the way back to her elementary school music class. Whereas most of her peers dreaded their weekly music session, she enjoyed having the opportunity to sing. “For whatever reason I was very naturally drawn to the class,” she said. From there, Agosta’s love of singing began to grow. Later on, at the age of fourteen, she was encouraged to start writing her own music. Ever since then, she’s been using songwriting as a creative outlet through which she conveys feelings that wouldn’t otherwise be articulated. One of Agosta’s favorite aspects of songwriting is that it allows her a different medium of self-expression, beyond what could be said in a conversation.

“When I write a song about something that is going on in my life, it feels like my truest form of expression,” she said. “I feel like I can really be honest about how I feel in music.” In addition to writing songs that have a personal meaning, Agosta also likes to compose music that others can listen and relate to, based on their own experiences. “I like the idea that you can write about specific topics and, though your audience won’t always know what you’re talking about, that doesn’t necessarily matter. A song can relate to people on different levels in different ways, and I like that it can be personally interpreted.”

Her single, “Never Fall,” exemplifies this relatability. Agosta gained inspiration for the song based on one of her favorite quotes, “There’s a way to rest in the trees.” The song suggests that, rather than giving up when one bad thing happens, one should lean on those who are around to give support—whether that be a person, an object or a higher power. “The idea behind Never Fall, and specifically the line ‘I will never fall because of you,’ is that whatever or whoever you believe in is your source of reference. Then, when something bad happens, instead of plummeting to the floor and trying to get up from there, you just take a rest, you rest in the trees, and then you continue on flying,” she explains. While listeners can ascribe their own identity to the person or being addressed in the song, Agosta wrote it with a personal image in mind. “It has to do with balance in life, and for me it’s relying on God and just believing in something higher than whatever circumstance you’re going through,” she explains.

Agosta draws inspiration from within herself for her music (Image via Orel Collette)

Because she tends to draw inspiration for her songwriting from her personal experiences, Agosta generally writes her songs as ideas come to her. “I’ve found that sometimes when I try too hard to write about something, it doesn’t come out as well as when I just sit down and start writing whatever naturally comes to me,” she said. Her writing process varies, at times starting with the lyrics and at other times with the melody. “Usually what I do is I’ll sit down, just me, myself, and my piano, and I’ll record myself. Often I’ll play it back and then just see where it takes me, whether that’s more lyric-centric and then the melody comes afterwards, or vice versa,” she said. She also draws on other artists for influence in her music. While she listens to all types of music, her favorites are R&B and hip-hop. When it comes to inspiration, she gravitates towards British artists. “When I was younger, like fifteen, I loved Adele. Nowadays I lean more towards artists like Lianne La Havas.”

In addition to growing as a singer and songwriter, Agosta is also learning how be her own manager. “I’m figuring out everything from writing my own stuff to scheduling studio appointments and making sure my budget is under control, to maintaining relationships both professionally and with different artists,” she explains. With so many different aspects of the music industry to master, Agosta draws strength from seeing the culmination of these efforts in her performances. “I think that one of the most rewarding things is when I’m performing live and I see a crowd reacting to my materials. It’s so gratifying because I know all of the things in the background that I had to do leading up to that point, but in that moment I feel like there’s no other focus other than the crowd and my art. It’s such a rewarding feeling to get feedback from people and to know that maybe someone is relating to what I’m singing.”

As for the future, Agosta hopes to continue developing as a singer, songwriter and performer. “My first goal would probably be to grow large in Chicago and have a solid platform here with my music, both live and recorded. Hopefully that will then lead me to other cities and other places,” she said. In pursuing music, she hopes to become even more comfortable in her own style and voice: “I think it’s important to know that not everyone is going to understand who I am as an artist and the type of stuff that I produce, but that doesn’t matter. As long as I feel that I’m being true to myself and my music, then that’s all that matters.”

Christine Ascher, USC

Writer Profile

Christine Ascher

English & Economics

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