Comox songstress Stella Swanson can add John Lennon Songwriting Contest finalist to her ever-growing resume.
That’s in addition to her stage experience in Les Misérables and creating her first CD, I’m Not a Bunny.
And Swanson is just nine years old.
“I thought it would be fun to enter the song, and I was not expecting anything,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy.”
The title track was submitted to the contest after local singer/songwriter and former contest winner Helen Austin introducer Swanson to the program, explained mom Karen Pantuso Swanson.
“It’s really neat; we entered on her advice, and it’s the one song that Stella wrote all on her own,” she noted.
Austin said her encouragement was genuine. What did she see in Stella?
“I saw a little girl who wrote killer hooks and knew how to tell a story in a song.”
With the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, all songs go through an adjudication process, and this year, one of the judges was Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas.
“It’s really neat to think she listened to Stella’s song,” said Karen.
Although Swanson didn’t win, she was one of three finalists, a feat which garnered her prizes which included a music store gift certificate, a magazine and an input to hook a guitar to an iPad.
“It feels really great. I’m getting a lot of people coming up to me in different stores … and lots of people telling me they’re listening to the CD in their car,” she explained.
The album was released in December with help from Juno-winner Austin. Swanson wrote four of the songs herself and collaborated with her mom and her sister on some of the others.
She created her first CD when she was just two years old for her family, but for now, Swanson said she’s going to be focusing on playing gigs before creating her next album.
“I really love (performing). I sometimes get a couple of butterflies when I start, but after a few songs, everything usually goes really well.”
Swanson has sold 300 copies of her CD, and hopes to gain more exposure as she plays the Kids Cafe in Tintown this weekend.
She is hoping to write a bird-themed song for an upcoming performance at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society’s open house April 6, an organization to which she has donated sales from her songs on iTunes. She will also perform on stage with another Juno Award winner, Fred Penner, at Bella Coola Music Festival in July.
Austin sees a bright future for Comox Valley’s newest budding star.
“Stella is such a poised girl and I think her evenness along with her creativity will take her far,” said Austin.
I’m Not a Bunny is available at Planet Kids in Comox and Courtenay, Seeds Food Market in Cumberland and on iTunes. For more info, or signed copies of the CD, visit stellaswanson.com.