When the world closed down during the pandemic, some people ate. Others grew anxious, or bored.
Madelyn Spera wrote songs.
The rising Staples High School senior was always drawn to music. She took classes beginning in preschool; sang at Sweet Frog at age 10; joined Music Theatre of Connecticut for shows like “James and the Giant Peach,” “Charlotte’s Web” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” then performed with Bedford Middle School and Staples Players in “Mamma Mia!,” “Grease” “The Descendants” and “Into the Woods.”
COVID slammed the curtain shut. Isolated at home starting in March 2020 — Staples Players’ “Seussical: The Musical” was canceled 2 days before opening night — Madelyn studied songwriters like Taylor Swift.
She figured out her own process. She thinks of a title or creative first line; plays with it on piano or guitar, then crafts the rest of her lyrics.
Madelyn calls her all-acoustic style “indie-ish. It’s mellow pop, relaxed.” She is not into techno.
She writes about what she knows: family, friends, growing up in Westport, experiences she’s going through.
She recorded 6 original songs at Bridgeport’s Tarquin Studios. Working with a member of the Alternate Roots band, she learned the ins and outs of recording. Right now she’s editing those songs, and figuring out the best marketing strategy.
Earlier this month, Madelyn performed at New York’s Bitter End. The famed Greenwich Village club has hosted Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, James Taylor and Neil Young, among many others.
More recent performers include Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. “I was playing on their piano!” Madelyn says.
Like Gaga, Madelyn sang about loving yourself, and “embracing who you are.” Audience members told Madelyn that her lyrics resonated.
This summer, she’s interning at MTC. She’s teaching music choreographing children’s shows, and giving back some of what she got growing up there.
Soon, she’ll audition for Staples Players’ fall production: “Guys and Dolls.”
She hopes too to return to The Bitter End. Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga’s piano is waiting.