Photo by Steve Malinksi / Special to TheSpot518
#518Songfest #MoriahFormica #SydneyWorthley #JulieGold #Super400 #SandyMcKnightsPopClique #TheEgg #KaitlinLembo #MichaelHallisey #TheSpot518
ALBANY — Call it serendipitous, or an act of marketing genius, but the one-day music festival that will showcase some of the best musical acts to come out of this area code falls on Friday, May 18.
Or, if you still use a checkbook to pay your bills, that’s 5/18.
This year’s 518 Songfest features Moriah Formica, Sydney Worthley, Super 400, Sandy McKnight’s Pop-Clique, and Julie Gold, performing at The Egg on Friday, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $9.77 to $20 and can be purchased at tickets.theegg.org.
518 Songfest is a unique live concert experience, in that each artist performs their songs and shares a bit about their music and experience with the audience, while on stage. The passing year has produced enough compelling stories to share with the audience to make this Friday a hot ticket. There’s Formica, who garnered national attention while nearly making it to the Final 12 on Season 13 of NBC’s “The Voice.” This will be the last opportunity for some people to see Worthley before she plays at Mountain Jam next month, so far capping an incredible string of events since she dropped her debut album last September.
Troy’s favorite Super 400 will play a rare acoustic set. Sandy McKnight returns to Songfest with his Pop-Clique. And, the night will also feature Grammy Award-winning songwriter Julie Gold.
“I’m very excited about everything that’s going on,” said Worthley. “I’m really excited about the Q&A part of it, the interactive audience. I’ve never done anything like that before.” The young pop rock artist said she looks forward to seeing Super 400 and Sandy McKnight for the first time. It will be a rare instance for her to be able to sit down and listen to music. Since the release of “Strong” last year, she’s been juggling a burgeoning career with high school studies. An experience she can relate with another rockin’ high school student who’s on the playbill.
Formica, the Shaker High School senior who took the world by storm when she performed on “The Voice” late last year, is also on the bill for 518 Songfest.
“It truly feels great to be a part of something like this,” Formica said. “Every show that I perform in the Capital Region is special because it’s like I’m performing for my family. I feel so loved every time I hit the stage.”
Formica is billed as one of the festival’s top acts and she’s planning to make the most of that opportunity.
“I’m going to be playing a lot of my own music,” Formica said. “I just released a new single that I can’t wait to perform live.”
The single, titled “I Will,” was released on April 27. The pint-sized powerhouse, as “Voice” judge Adam Levine aptly named her during her audition, partnered with American Idol alum Sarah Lake, Capital District music producer Paul Benedetti and Benedetti’s Modern Day Music School to produced the country and rock-esque hit.
“I definitely went out of my comfort zone a bit for [I Will],” she said, referencing the mix of genres the song has. “I love the unique vibe we came up with.”
She added her music is a lot like pouring rock, country, pop and blues in a blender and mixing them to come up with what she considers to be the “perfect” sound.
While Formica wants to sing a lot of her own music, she will also be singing many covers, she said.
“People love to hear songs they can sing along to,” she said. “I want to play around a bit and stretch out of my comfort zone some more.”
Formica added she wants to experiment with music from mainstream pop artists such as Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga, among others.
“I just want to perform some feel-good songs,” she said.
518 Songfest is just the start of a busy summer season for Formica. Her father and manager, Josh Formica, said she is all lined up for a summer of music.
“She will be at Freedom Park, Empire State Plaza and Clifton Commons,” he said. “We also have other shows in the works that haven’t been announced yet.”
On Thursday, May 10, the Troy Downtown Business Improvement District announced that Formica will headline the first of its Rockin’ on The River concerts in Troy’s Riverfront Park on Wednesday, June 6.
Josh Formica added that Moriah’s younger brother, Gabriel, might make a few appearances at some of the big outdoor venues with his older sister.
“Gabe has such a unique tone to his voice,” Moriah said. “He’s more geared toward pop and ballads. I love his voice.”
Josh Formica has been by his daughter’s side since before “The Voice,” and said as a parent, it has been amazing to watch his daughter achieve her dreams one concert at a time.
“It’s incredible to watch all of this happen for her,” he said. “We are so proud of what she has done and how hard she works.”
Her father added that Moriah has been incredibly busy since her last performance on “The Voice” 10 months ago. In addition to writing and recording music and performing a steady stream of shows, the high school senior is preparing to graduate in June.
“I’ve watched her work so incredibly hard since the show to be her best and achieve all she wants,” he said. “Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to watch her spirits get down because she feels she is not achieving a goal she set her eyes on, but it’s just pockets compared to what she’s done and how far she has come.”
While Formica is weeks away from graduation, she has decided to hold off on attending college so that she can pursue her music career, her dad said.
“She has a lot going on right now, and we want to capitalize on it and see where it goes,” he said. “Her theory is if things don’t work out by the time she is around 26 or 27, she can always go back. But this could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and she really feels she has to run with it.”
Her father added while every parent wants their child to pursue higher education when possible, this makes sense for her.
“She stays so focused and dedicated,” he said. “She’s handling all of this as well as she can, as we are. It’s been a journey, but she’s extremely gifted.”
Worthley still plans to pursue college after high school, but has time before she has to decide like Formica.
“We’ve talked about the show and about playing in the area,” said Worthley, about her conversations with Formica. “We’re both about the same age, so this doesn’t happen very often.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.