PUM Hot List: Pittsburgh's Antoniette Costa, Kevin "K.O." Olusola and Tara Kamangar
After her beautiful 37-year-old Aunt died in 2004 during childbirth, Antoniette was devastated but stumbled across 14 poems written by her Aunt Lilly when she was only 18 years old. Although Lilly was a very successful corporate attorney and had left the arts decades before, these poems, scratched in a notebook and left as forgotten were the only window into Lilly's soul. They were so prophetic in nature and provided such comfort that Antoniette decided then that academic and financial success would need to take a backseat to her own "creative window" and embarked on a quest to leave a musical legacy for Lilly's only son and to express her music. Antoniette at the time was a pre-med student at Cornell who transferred to the University of Pennsylvania to be closer to her Grandmother who cared for Lilly's newborn son.
While she attended Cornell University, Antoniette lived in the Just About Music Residence. "Living there gave me all the resources to continue songwriting," she says. Antoniette was the lead singer for the band LR9 and a member of Cornell's How Excellent Gospel Choir. She performed for Yolanda King with the group in Sage Chapel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had spoken decades earlier.
Antoniette independently released her debut album Breakthru in 2005. She dedicated the CD to her Aunt Lilly. The album ranked #1 on Amazon's Early Adopter Indie Music Chart and #69 on the Early Adopter All Music Chart. The CD features 12 original songs she wrote spanning from middle school through her first year in college. The CD includes "Flown Away," the first song Antoniette ever wrote - a personal letter of goodbye to her Grandfather who died when she was in seventh grade.
Upon moving to Philly, Dice Raw, rapper and A&R for The Roots, discovered Antoniette's music and began working with her. Outside of class, Antoniette spent her spare time writing and rehearsing out of Larry Gold's "The Studio" – recording her vocals in the booth alongside Questlove's legendary drums and working with producer Khari "Ferrari" Mateen, Jon Jon McGlinchey and fellow singer-songwriter and close friend Nikki Jean.
Whether inspired from a novel or personal experience, Antoniette's music is candid. "For me, writing a song is like bottling an emotion in its most potent form." Her song "The Gift" caught the ears of Richard Nichols, manager of The Roots and executive producer of Al Green's latest Grammy award winning album Lay It Down. Richard Nichols said these songs "were for real" and executive produced tracks "The Gift" and "Ready to Make It Work" which will be featured on Antoniette's upcoming release. The album features collaborations with legendary music names such as James Poyser, Questlove, Steve Jordan and Kindred the Family Soul.
The twenty-five year old singer-songwriter is from Pittsburgh, PA and is a dual US and Italian citizen. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Antoniette is currently studying science at Columbia University and concentrating on her music. She founded her own record label called L.I.P. Label 14 and recently started a performance series called "Track 14 Sessions." In an interview conducted by Arcade44.tv, Antoniette explains the meaning behind the name saying "that's the train track I take between Philly and NYC. Even though I live in New York, my musical connection is Philly... I still go there to rehearse in The Roots' Studio." The "Track 14 Sessions" are held at Legacy Recording Studio in Times Square, NYC. Antoniette says the sessions are "meant to unveil what goes on in the recording studio ... It's an intimate live performance where people can hear raw vocals and instrumentation with amplification." Recent guest performers have included Nikki Jean and Khari Mateen. Antoniette plans to continue these performances and to release an album featuring live recordings from the sessions.
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