Dressed in light blue jeans and a black t-shirt, Amy Chew ’20 walks to the front of the stage and begins to sing, illuminated by the spotlight while the rest of the stage is bathed in a darker blue. Chew holds a powerful high note before walking to the side as the lighting changes to red, and the song kicks to a more upbeat melody. This moment was part of Azure’s 2018 Grasshopper performance, Chew’s first performance with Azure.
“Being in an a capella group is a lot different than singing alone because, obviously, you have to be mindful of everybody else. But my favorite part about singing at Andover is probably that everybody is really accepting of what you do and who you are with it,” said Chew. “Everyone is really appreciative, and everyone supports each other.”
From a young age, Chew has spent her life in the musical world. She started singing at age 12 after performing in musicals and rock bands throughout elementary and middle school.
Chew said, “My dad is a really big music fanatic, so I was always surrounded by music. I just like singing because it’s a lot of personality. I feel like it’s quite different from instruments because it’s your own voice that you develop yourself, so it’s a really personal thing. It’s really fun, too.”
Alice Keller ’20, Chew’s friend and dorm mate, said, “Around the dorm [Chew is] always singing under her breath in passing. She’s extremely talented, but I think the most unique part is how [natural] and effortless it is for her.”
By listening to a variety of music, Chew has been able to find a style that suits her. Although she enjoys listening to hip hop and rap, R&B soul is her favorite genre to sing. Chew was encouraged to try different genres after being in a rock band.
Chew said, “It was really, really hard in the beginning because it’s a lot of screaming. At the time, I was really into pop and thought that I could only do pop and couldn’t try anything else because my voice was only fit for that. But then after that, I thought that maybe I could try other things and see what happens and maybe be more versatile.”
Since coming to Andover, Chew has further expanded her musical skills beyond singing. This winter, she took a songwriting course and continues to write and experiment with her own songs.
“Now I’ve definitely learned to think more about… what words are easier to sing with different vowels and pitches. I pay a lot more attention to what is actually happening in a song, because before I started writing music, I would just listen to a song and be like, ‘Oh that sounds nice,’ but now that I write my own music, I see how much more actually makes up the song with all the details,” said Chew.
Although Chew is now able to share her compositions with close friends, having the confidence to share her singing has not always been easy for her. Since coming to Andover, she is still learning to be more open with her vocal talent, but the challenges she has faced through singing have made her braver and more open-minded.
Chew said, “When I was younger, before I was experienced, for example if I was trying to hit a really high note, I would think ‘No, I can’t do that, I shouldn’t even try.’ But I realized that it’s really just a mental thing that holds you back — you do have the capability to do it, it’s just yourself telling you that you can’t… Singing is just a lot more personal and a lot harder for me to open up about.”