No one is ever fully prepared for the pressures of getting thrown into the mix of high school – earning good grades, finding friends, and learning how to be an adult in just about 1,460 days. It’s well-known that high school can be some of the toughest, most mentally challenging years people experience in their early life. With all the newfound responsibilities, it gets difficult for many kids with numerous stressors and little experience. But Sophia Paravalos decided that it wasn’t going to stop her from doing what she loved. And so she wrote and prepared a full-length, professionally produced album called, “These Years.”
“It engulfs my four years at the high school, and it kinda revolves around everything from guys to a lot of mental health awareness, with my personal journey, and other people’s journeys,” Sophia passionately described about the album.
At the age of five, young Sophia began taking piano lessons, the beginning of her musical career, although unbeknownst to her at the time. “I used to cry before every lesson. And then I started liking it,” she admitted with a smile. For years, she continued playing classical piano, developing and cultivating her musical skills. In middle school, however, was where she really started to enjoy music. Classical piano wasn’t where her heart lied, and she determined that she was going to pick up guitar and vocals, which sparked a new love for music. She also started to learn the clarinet to play in the school’s band, something that helped further expand her understanding of music. With all her background in music, it seemed like a simple choice to make it her passion.
“Writing songs has always been a way for me to clear my head; a way for me to let everything go at the end of the day. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression since I was young, continuing to push myself through those ups and downs can be difficult at times. I’ve always used songwriting to soothe those negative feelings for myself, but it wasn’t until recently that I started sharing my music with other people,” she wrote on her Indiegogo campaign page, where she raises money to pay for the studio hours it takes to record each song. Within days, she raised over $8,000 to fund her ambitions.
With her focus on mental illness throughout the album, she sheds light on the issue. On October 2nd, 2016, she even put on a benefit concert for the IAM Strong Foundation, raising money and awareness on things such as depression and anxiety. The turnout was huge, garnering large sums for charity. Already, she’s experienced as both a performer and a self-starter.
“I’ve known Sophia since 6th grade, but we really became friends in 8th grade. I’ve heard some of the personal accounts behind each story and kind of been there while they’re happening sometimes. It definitely seems like a stressful process for her, but I don’t think she’d do it if she didn’t care about making the end result as good as possible,” revealed close friend MaryKate Murphy.
Thirty hours passed in the process of recording her single, “Living for Now.” Days were dedicated to writing parts for each instrument, recording each instrument, mixing and editing the sound, and then putting it all together. “It’s draining and tiring work; but in the end, it’s all worth it,” confessed Sophia.
And that was the work for just one song. The album will contain four more songs as well as the single, for a total of five pieces of music. The songs had been written throughout her four years in high school, really encompassing the emotions as she had felt them at the time.
“I love “Living for Now,” that’s why it’s the single. It’s the only lovey song in the entire album. The popular “One Call” is a good one. I really like “Heaving,” it’s one of the first songs I ever wrote, but it’s one I’m really proud of,” Sophia disclosed after really thinking about it.
“She has put so much work into this. I don’t know how she’s done this and be a full-time student. She has put a ton of time into it. And again, being a professional musician and having recording sessions that go five, six, seven hours, it’s a brutal process and she’s doing an amazing job with it. It’s unbelievable,” praised music teacher Heather Cote with a look of admiration.
Already reaching the goal of $8,000, Sophia Paravalos is hoping to release her complete album by the end of summer. Although it will be a long wait, it will be worthwhile.
Looking towards the future, she plans on attending Berklee College of Music to pursue her interests. Originally wanting to go for music therapy, she has been also thinking about music law or maybe music business. However, she will never stop writing songs and making beautiful music for the world to hear, as everyone is just waiting to listen.
Follow her through her journey: