Teen showcase will feature Benilde-St. Margaret’s sophomore
A Benilde-St. Margaret’s sophomore is a model, surfer and singer who has performed at such venues as the Bryant Lake Bowl in Uptown Minneapolis and Amsterdam Bar and Hall in downtown St. Paul.
Deephaven resident Sophie Peters, 15, will join three other teenage singers for an all-ages show at the Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 N. First Ave. in downtown Minneapolis, Saturday, Jan. 26. Doors open 9:30 p.m. with music at 10 p.m. Sophie will join Franco Meschini, an 18-year-old who attends DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis; Brennan Wedl, a 16-year-old who attends The Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield; and Rachel Sitzmann, also a 16-year-old who attends Holy Angels.
Sophie’s singing style reflects some of the British singers she appreciates, such as the late Amy Winehouse, Adele and Joss Stone. She has also been influenced by some older musicians.
“When I was younger, my dad would play music all the time around the house, and I would listen to Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5 and Van Morrison,” Sophie said. “I grew up listening to all those classics.”
Sometimes her soulful style surprises audience members, she said.
“Growing up listening to all the classic old R&B singers just had an effect on what I sing today,” Sophie said. “They never expect me to sing like that ever. They say, oh, you sing? And they say what kind (of music)? I say R&B and soul, and they look at me like I’m crazy.”
But Sophie developed an appreciation for the style at an early age, even if her mother might have preferred different lyrics for some of the songs she liked.
“When ‘Rehab’ (by Winehouse) came out, she couldn’t sing ‘Rehab’ because it wouldn’t be appropriate,” said Sophie’s mother, Deirdre Peters. “It’s kind of hard to have your 10-year-old singing ‘Rehab.’ But she was always singing, in the shower, in the car, everywhere she was.”
Sophie never joined the choir at her Catholic school in St. Louis Park, saying she preferred a different singing technique and did not have time considering all her other activities, like tennis, going on surfing trips to places like Costa Rica, skiing and learning to play the guitar and the piano.
Although she did not join the choir, she has worked on her voice with her vocal instructor, Diane Grasselli of Chanson Voice Studios in St. Paul. Grasselli, who is also director of Chanson Voice Studios, has taught all four singers performing at the Fine Line Jan. 26.
“She’s a talented young thing, and she has a really interesting and contemporary sounding style,” Grasselli said. “She’s naturally musical and adorable as can be, and, you know, kind of sophisticated beyond her years musically and stylistically. She’s delightful to watch.”
Grasselli helped connect Sophie with monthly shows during a performance series at Aster Cafe along St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis. Grasselli also was instrumental in connecting her young protege with a performance series at the Bryant Lake Bowl.
“She’s a little bit like a sponge when it comes to learning stylistic things,” Grasselli said. “She’s been an avid listener to some of the best pop signers we have today.”
The vocal instructor said she has focused on teaching Sophie to move beyond limitations she had with singing in a higher voice, which Grasselli decribed as a common issue for young singers seeking to emulate older, more mature singers.
“I taught her more about what her natural voice is capable of doing,” Grasselli said. “We were able to open up all the registers of her voice.”
Grasselli noted she has a perspective based on working as a singer professionally herself who has collaborated with numerous artists.
She said of Sophie, “She’s really got great taste, and she really understands what a good singer is today…. I think it’s surprising that she’s so sophisticated when she’s so young. She sounds quite mature for such a young singer.”
Of her other students performing at the Fine Line show, Grasselli said Meschini is a tenor singer-songwriter who began taking lessons while already possessing good vocal instincts. Meschini also performed with Sophie at the Amsterdam in St. Paul, a show that attracted about 200 people.
Rachel is a soprano who also has a R&B style, Grasselli said.
“She, like the others, has a lot of potential,” Grasselli said.
She described Brennan as “a little spitfire” who is confident and has a “wonderful sense” of music as well.
The four singers will perform at a private function at the Fine Line hosted by the Meschini family before the public concert. The private event will feature wine from a Chilean vineyard owned by the Meschinis and will feature food cooked by relatives set to fly in from Italy.
Tickets for the public portion, featuring music from the four singers, will be $8 at the door.