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Life & Work with Elizabeth Ward

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Ward.

Hi Elizabeth, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I was raised in Kingsport, Tennessee and started off singing in my church and school choirs. I was very involved in both music and theatre in high school and sang in choir through the end of my college career. I attended East Tennessee State University from 2011-2015 in hopes of getting a degree in Music Performance and Music Education. There, I was classically trained for two and a half years. In my third junior year of attending college, I did not pass a vocal test that I needed to and was told to find a new major. Though devastated, my heart was not in classical singing. I had discovered a new love the same semester I was asked to leave. That love was bluegrass and country music. Thus, my degree changed, and I ended up getting my Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies. This study allowed me to grow my knowledge of modern music, classic country, how to maintain stage presence, how to run sound for shows…the list is infinite. It was in this department at my university that I learned to play bass and guitar at the age of 20.

Upon graduating, I came to Orlando to work for the mouse (which I did for three years). When I wasn’t working, I was discovering any open mic that I could. I was making connections and slowly started to book cover gigs around the area. I saved enough money to buy my own equipment and as the years have progressed, I can book out my weekends on a regular basis now. After a year and a half of gigging, I decided to be bold and begin work on my first EP “Fireflies” that I released in 2018. Being a songwriter was always something I was passionate about, but I never dreamed that I would record my songs and that people would truly enjoy them. I somehow managed to move 550 miles away from home and made my dreams come true on faith and trust in myself and God. Everyday, I can’t believe I get to make money doing something that I love. Though much easier now, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wanted to turn around and move back to Tennessee every day at the start, but after nearly six years, I think I see the bright side of the sunshine state now. Aside from better gigs and weekends full of music, I am now nearly finished with my first full-length album “Silver-Lining”. I refuse to stop dreaming.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There were a small handful of struggles along the way. There were plenty of people who would look at me funny when I’d tell them I wanted to be a full-time musician and singer. Plenty who judged my degree in bluegrass and country music. There were numerous vocal auditions I attended here in Orlando that I never got a call back from. As mentioned in the last question, I was even asked to leave the music department at my university because of my struggle to sing classical music. After intensive study for two and a half years, being asked to leave was one of the hardest blows. I’ve even played a couple of gigs before where I was either asked to end my set early or not asked back at all due to the owner or manager not liking my voice. Those moments were absolutely embarrassing. It can be so easy to let the small number of bumps in the road to get under your skin and bring you down. However, I personally had and still have the “well, I’ll show you” mentality and strive to better myself and show the ones who told me I couldn’t that I can.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a musician and singer-songwriter. I love to write music and currently spend my career playing shows around central Florida in bars, breweries, restaurants, hotels, weddings, festivals…you name it – I’ll play it. I am well-known for my song “Fireflies” off of my five songs EP “Fireflies”. I think what sets me apart is the ability to make any song my own. Whether an original song or a cover, I strive to put emotion behind each word I sing in order to tell a story and to relate to the souls around me.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Risk taking is a must when pursuing your dreams. It can be uncomfortable, scary, and difficult, but in order to be the best you and to be the best you at your craft, I truly believe that risk taking is a must. I took a risk moving from a small town in Tennessee that I lived in for 20 years to moving to Florida six years ago. I knew no one here. I was in a completely new environment around new people and knew nothing about nothing. I prayed that I would find a path and never saw myself living in Florida. I took a risk releasing my EP with five original songs. There’s something so intimate about something you’ve created. It’s so personal. It was so nerve-racking not knowing if people would enjoy my songs or not. At the end of the day, risk-taking gives me anxiety to think about, but I’ve been doing it my whole life. It was a risk to pursue music when I was told no by professional vocalists at a university, but I did it. I wouldn’t be here today if I wasn’t a risk taker.

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Image Credits

Mike Dunn, Blake Trent, Danny Monroe

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