Singer, songwriter comes back to Pittsburgh for Sunday evening performance

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 7:53 p.m.

Though Chelsea Summers now calls South Carolina home, her heart remained in Pittsburgh and on Sunday she will return to perform for a hometown audience.

Summers, 17, will take the stage with her guitar at The Altar Bar in the Strip District to open for singer songwriter ZZ Ward.

“Playing a show in Pittsburgh … I've been looking forward to that happening for a long time because I do consider Pittsburgh home even though I haven't lived there for eight years,” said Summers, of Summerville, S.C. “And the Strip District is one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh.”

Summers, whose grandparents live in Hampton, fell in love with the guitar as she grew up listening to her uncle, Bob Fabis-zewski, of Indiana Township. He entertained Summers and her cousins with classical guitar tunes and finger-picking blues music.

At 13, Summers picked up her mother's Martin guitar and learned Taylor Swift's “Teardrops on my Guitar” in a day. She was hooked.

“I never found something that was my own,” Summers said. “When I picked up the guitar … it was something I felt I could make my own and enjoy for the rest of my life.”

Summers started playing outside of her mother's South Carolina jewelry store once a month during the shopping district's extended evening hours, and then gained confidence to transition to local bars and restaurants.

Wanting to perform music of her own, Summers joined the Nashville Songwriters Association International to learn the art of songwriting.

Songwriting led to Summers' first CD, “Unspoken,” with five songs.

“That CD, if you listen to that and listen to me now, my style has changed incredibly,” she said. “But I'm really proud of that CD because it's the first thing I put out and wrote all the songs by myself.”

Summers describes her music as “crossover” style that is pop-based with some country flair and bluesy undertones, mixed with rock.

“It's all over the place,” Summers said. “But I think it works well.”

Summers got her first opportunity to perform in front of a larger crowd in February 2012 when she won an online contest to open up for the rock band Parachute.

She said she is excited to perform with ZZ Ward and have friends and family in the audience.

“Playing a live show, there is a moment where ‘this is why I do it,'” Summers said.

“I put so much time and energy into this and that one moment on stage is why I do it.”

Summers plans to take the stage with her Fender Telecaster guitar on Sunday when she will perform with her band, made up of members of MinorEffect, out of Chapin, S.C.

Madie Volosky, a friend from elementary school, said she has watched Summers' music evolve over the years. While she has spent summers hanging out listening to Summers strum on her guitar, this will be her first opportunity to see her perform in front of an audience larger than their group of friends.

“I can remember when she first started playing, she could only play a few songs and now she has her own CD,” Volosky said. “It's really cool to watch her grow.

“I'm so excited that she'll be coming back here, and I'm so excited to see her live and on stage, under the spotlights and everything.”

While in Pittsburgh, Summers said she plans to spent time with her grandparents, visit all of her favorite restaurants and take a trip to Pianos N' Stuff Music, in Blawnox.

“Get a (new) guitar at Pianos N' Stuff, that's number one,” she said.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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