Photo courtesy of Ambassador Music Group
Sydney Worthley is walking down the hall before she is stopped by a friend who confesses, “I’ve had that song stuck in my head the entire day.”
That song is “One Two Three,” an earworm off of Worthley’s own 14-track CD “Strong” which dropped last month through Ambassador Music Group.
The Voorheesville teenager is aggressively pushing out into the local music scene. She’s performed several gigs throughout the Capital District in the past several months, highlighted by a show at Albany’s Tulip Festival in May and a headlining act at Jupiter Hall to celebrate the release of “Strong.”
Since it’s release in September, the title track has received play on local alternative and Americana stations, including 88.3 WVCR-FM, where Worthley has already earned respect from its prominent on-air personality.
“Her charm and poise were evident,” said Vito Ciccarelli, WVCR radio personality. Ciccarelli interviewed Worthley for his show and he said he was impressed within two minutes. “You don’t generally see that in performers that young. When she performed live, I said to myself — this is the real deal. Reminded me of Moriah Formica… just in the way she didn’t stumble, and let her knowledge and charm take over the interview.”
In a NYS Music album review, writer Julia Wolfe describes Worthley’s writing technique as similar to Taylor Swift, another artist whose music career started in earnest at the age of 14. Like Swift, the topics in which Worthley touches upon transcend into more mature interpretations of self-awareness, love and death.
A dedication to Worthley’s grandmothers is scribed on the front of the CD’s lyrics booklet; “two women who exemplified what it means to be strong.” Dorothy Contreras and Sherry Worthley both died of cancer within four months. The young artist took to writing.
“After that, I had started writing about things I had experienced,” said Sydney, “and that’s what this entire album is about.”
Shauna Worthley, Sydney’s mother, said her daughter has been determined to strike out onto the world since performing in front of her first crowd at 9.
“Any parent thinks that their daughter is extremely gifted,” said Shauna. She and her husband decided to gift Sydney with a guitar for her 9th birthday after showing an interest in playing music. Three months of lessons were followed by a performance in front of more than 100 people at her school’s talent show. “And, [she] came off the stage bawling. She was just so happy. Throughout all of this, she just wanted more.”
Last Thanksgiving, Sydney sat before the piano and started writing.
In 20 minutes, she had the words down for “Better Than You.”
“It’s No. 8, which is my favorite number,” said Sydney. The track that
contains biting lyrics from a jilted lover is also her favorite. Which, perhaps, draws another comparison to Swift. “I don’t think they know it’s about them. It’s about certain people in particular. Not the entire song is about them. Sometimes little bits and pieces are about that person, and then I go off and make the song bigger.”
In addition to the 14 songs debuted on “Strong,” Sydney has 18 more written down. A lyrical chain of subjects that all began with her first song “Wrong Way.” It’s a song Sydney said was initially difficult to perform in front of audiences. The last track on her CD covers the topic of bullying. She admits to once feeling like the “odd person out.” Struggling through the fear of sharing her songs to strangers helped her realize that others could relate to her words.
“This is what I want my career to be,” said Sydney. “I want it to go as big as it can.” Writing down places to play such as the Times Union Center, “because that’s a big dream of mine. World tours and most of what other musicians want to do.”
She already has someone in radio convinced.
“Sydney is the whole package,” said Ciccarelli. “Amazing talent, wonderful songwriter, and an engaging young lady. Having worked with many young acts over the years, I see her achieving great things in the future.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.