Local singer-songwriter pursues musical dream

Life as a 20-something can be blindsiding: it seems to throw curveballs which can completely alter one’s perception of his/her future.

For ivamae, local musician and New York native, this moment arrived 2 1/2 years ago after an unanticipated breakup, she said.

“I grew up with my mom playing guitar and singing,” ivamae said. “I was always a sports kid, so I never really thought about [pursuing music] or even had the confidence to perform in front of people.”

The artist moved to Burlington in the fall of 2007 to study film at Champlain College for one year, then transferred to UVM to study environmental studies and agriculture, ivamae said.

After a total of two years as an undergraduate, she decided to drop out and stay in Burlington. 2 1/2 years ago, she was on the farm and homestead track, but following her breakup at that time, decided to throw herself into music, she said.

“I broke up with somebody that I thought I was actually going to get married to and have kids with,” ivamae said.

Only after her “whole world sort of crumbled” as a result of the breakup did she realize that this boyfriend could not support or push her in her work, as he was not an artist himself, she said.

Up until the breakup, even though ivamae played her guitar occasionally in college and after, music largely remained “in the background” for her, she said.

“I decided to do this total 180 and was like ‘I’m going to try this, and if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay,’” ivamae said. “I don’t want to wake up at 40 and regret that I never did something that brings me a lot of joy.”

As a 27-year-old, ivamae often feels like her music is not as skillful or developed as that of other musicians her age, she said.

She is working on giving herself credit rather than critique when comparing herself to those her age who have been making music for much longer and demonstrate higher skill levels, ivamae said.
As a bartender at Radio Bean, the young musician’s life is very social. For this reason, alone time is very important for her composition process, she said.

Going on runs and listening to hip hop music is another quirky method that helps generate creativity for her, ivamae said.

The artist prefers not to be tied to a single genre, but cites Bill Withers and Donny Hathaway as two of her biggest musical inspirations, she said.

“My music definitely has influences from foul, R&B, folk — and some jazzy chords, you know,” ivamae said, laughing.

“Mainly, I just want my music to carry this idea of vulnerability,” she said, “of honoring who you are, whatever that may be, regardless of what people are expecting of you.”

Recently, ivamae has felt a turning point in her music and performance, she said. Ivamae described feeling truly empowered for the first time at a recent basement show.

When a group of young women in the audience caught her eye, mesmerized by her performance, ivamae for the first time felt a “duty to do the best that [she] could possibly do to inspire them” to feel as confident, she said.