Songwriting is the heart and soul of Amelia Joyce

By Jacqueline Robledo

Amelia Joyce moved to the Valley five years ago in hopes of turning her musical passion into a career.

Twenty-four years ago, Joyce was born in Jackson, Michigan, with five siblings, all of whom would perform together. She took piano lessons throughout middle school and high school.

“Growing up in a small town, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for me to stay and try and develop my career,” she says.

“I always wanted to live out west. I came out here when I was 19 and chose Arizona because my sister lived here. I was hoping it would be my steppingstone to LA.”

Once she arrived in Arizona, the then-19-year-old singer moved to Peoria and performed in coffee shops and at open mic nights. She did not expect the reactions or opportunities that were to come.

“My first open mic night was at this busy bar; and I started playing a song and everything just went quiet, and everyone was like, ‘Where the heck did you come from? You’re not from around here, are you?’” says Joyce, who now lives in Downtown Phoenix.

In 2017, she won Alice Cooper’s Proof in the Pudding, her first competition. She, in turn, opened for Cooper, Tommy Thayer and Ace Frehley, Rob Halford and Slash.

“I have such good memories of that,” she says enthusiastically. “I’m not a competition kid at all, but I met a lot of great people through that competition. I met the founding fathers of rock ’n’ roll. I didn’t grow up listening to that kind of music. I was into ’70s folk singers and singer-songwriters. It was after I performed that I looked them up, and I couldn’t believe what I read.”

Her success only grew from there. Two years later, Joyce was awarded a golden ticket to Hollywood for season 18 of  “American Idol.” Joyce credits her friend, fellow Phoenician Wade Cota, who was in the top six of “American Idol” the previous year, for recommending her to a producer of the show.

“I saw the opportunities that Wade got, and I was like, well, it won’t hurt to try,” she says.

Joyce traveled to Hawaii to compete in the Top 40 before being eliminated from the competition.

“It’s kind of like a really intense summer camp with a bunch of kids from all over,” she says. “So, it was a really good challenge for me with the TV element of it; and overall, I’m super glad that I did it.”

Prior to returning home from “American Idol,” Joyce released a single that can be found on Spotify, called “What No One Says.”

Although COVID-19 has put many opportunities on hold for the young artist, she says the show has helped her clarify the type of artist she would like to be moving forward.

“The heart and soul of what I do is songwriting,” she says. “To be able to have a career by performing my original music is what the next level of what I’m working toward.”

At her gigs, she performs covers by the likes of Elton John, Billy Joel, Carly Simon and Carole King but sprinkles in original songs.

“That’s water to the fish,” she says with a laugh. 

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