Norwin grad pursues singing career
Felisha Nicole Aubrey of North Huntingdon is pursing a lifelong dream to have a successful singing career.
“This (singing) has been in my life forever. I have been taking voice lessons on and off since I was 8,” said Aubrey, 23, a 2010 Norwin High School graduate who is a pop and rhythm and blues singer.
“My parents love every style of music, and I've always been around it,” she added.
Although she has only been pursuing a singing career since August, she already has released five songs, including a heartbreak song, “Find Myself,” the first song she recorded for her demo album, “Diary of Aubree,” which she hopes to release later this year. A writer of poetry since she was a middle-school student, she said she wrote three of her songs and co-wrote two others.
She performs under the stage name of Aubree Nicole after it was suggested she use a different name.
“I wanted it (stage name) to be similar, but not the same,” she said.
Her pursuit of a music career seems appropriate for someone who grew up in a family where music played a big role, said Aubrey, the daughter of Anthony and Cheryl Aubrey of North Huntingdon.
“She has always had a passion to sing and my hopes for her are to be able to do something she loves as a career,” said Cheryl Aubrey.
Aubrey began singing in church and performing at the age of 3 in New Mexico. The family was living there after her parents, both members of the U.S. Air Force, were stationed in Great Britain. Aubrey was born in the English town of Bury St. Edmunds near Suffolk.
Her mother encouraged her to sing, taking her to voice lessons when she was a youngster. At age of 12, she was one of a group of 50 singers selected to perform with the Texas Children's Choir in Normandy, France, at the observance of the 60th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, Allied invasion of France during World War II.
“I have a really supportive family. My mom drove me to every voice lesson. She was my ‘singing mom,' ” Aubrey said.
The success of being chosen to represent Texas on the world stage cemented her confidence. That lead her to audition for the popular television show, “The Voice,” although she was not selected.
At Norwin High School, she joined the show choir in her junior year.
“I had all the solos. That's probably why I enjoyed it,” Aubrey said.
She credited two of her now-retired music teachers, Cheryl Walters and Nadine Macuga, with nurturing her musical talent.
Macuga, a former ninth-grade chorus director, recalled that Aubrey had “a very nice voice.”
“She kind of stood out. We had 500 kids in the program,” Macuga said.
After graduating from high school, she became a hairstylist and now works at a beauty salon in Shadyside. Aubrey said decided to embark on a singing career at the urging of friends.
“They kind of pushed me. They said, ‘You have to do this,'” Aubrey said.
The flexible hours of her job gives her a chance to spend time to hone her craft. In the span of just five months, she has put together a five-member management team and recorded at 310 Recording Studio in Monroeville.
One of the team members, Michael A. Palmer of Pittsburgh, a musician consultant who is helping to guide Aubrey's career, said he works to get her seen and make the best use of resources available to her.
“Her career is like a business, so we make sure that her image matches her music style — to getting her media coverage to distribution to making sure that the music is available to be purchased,” said Palmer, a Point Park University graduate who is the founder and editor of iMoveiLive, an online music magazine.
Aubrey has tapped into every form of social media to get publicity.
“Anywhere we can put my music, we try to put it out there — iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio,” Aubrey said.
In addition to her time in a Monroeville recording studio, she has a full slate of about a dozen performances the first three months of this year, including an appearance Friday at THON — or the Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon — at University Park campus.
Palmer said the goal is to give Aubrey's singing universal appeal.
“We have been successful with Aubree as we have been treating her as a brand and less as an artist. We make sure that all decisions made align with the overall goal. The music business is not different from any other business. The artist and the music is the product,” Palmer said.
Aubrey said she hopes to break through in her singing career within four or five years.
“As far as my pace is going, I would hope it would be sooner than five years,” she said.
She said she would be thrilled some day to perform in a large arena, like Consol Energy Center or Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh.
“I love performing. I love interacting with the crowd,” Aubrey said.
Aubrey was playing at an event at Penn State's student union building and the dance marathon's entertainment committee used that as her audition, according to Lily Beatty, a spokeswoman for THON. The event attracts about 700 dancers who go for 46 consecutive hours.
“We always look for acts that can keep the energy of the Bryce Jordan Center up for 46 hours. This is the first time she is performing and we are excited to have her improve everyone's experience this year,” Beatty said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer.