The Boston Globe
August 3, 2008
For pianist Andrea Surova of Belmont, her songwriting began to
develop at age 10 as a natural extension of the poetry she wrote.
As a result, she has an even more special appreciation for the
poem written by a 12-year-old homeless girl and the opportunity
to put Diya Gonsalves's words to music.
Next weekend, Surova will perform her musical rendition of the
girl's poem in the Strike a Chord concert to benefit School on
Wheels of Massachusetts.
The nonprofit organization provides academic support and advocacy
for homeless children like Diya, who lives with her mother in a
shelter in Stoughton.
"As soon as I read it, I had a very strong reaction," said
Surova, who connected with Diya's writing style, sensory descriptions,
and contrasting use of "beautiful and haunting" imagery.
In "I Am From," Diya describes being "from the world
of depression; and the scars on my heart; and the bruises in my
brain," but also "from the mountains; to the sun; I am
special; no one can take that away."
While Surova hopes her participation in the concert helps raise
awareness and funds for School on Wheels of Massachusetts, she
is particularly looking forward to meeting Diya at the event.
"I want to thank her for inspiring me to write a song I'm enjoying
singing so much," she said, "but I also want to encourage
her to keep writing, which will help her throughout her school
years and beyond."
The concert, featuring 14 musicians, will take place Saturday at
7 p.m. at Oliver Ames High School in Easton.
Donations will be accepted at the door.
© Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
School on Wheels
Melody Howard Ritt
CHILD’S POEM ABOUT BEING HOMELESS STRIKES A CHORD
WITH MUSICAL PERFORMER
Song will be performed at benefit concert for School on Wheels
on Saturday, August 9th
EASTON, Mass. – July 17, 2008 – Singing and songwriting
have always come naturally to Andrea Surova. The Dover-born musician,
who now lives in Belmont, has played piano since the age of 5,
studied music at Berklee, sung with a jazz group in Russia, and
recorded two CDs. So when the organization Strike a Chord Concerts
for Charity asked for someone to develop music for a poem written
by a 7th grader living in a Stoughton homeless shelter, Surova’s
mental gears began to turn.
“As soon as I saw the poem, it jumped out at me,” the
performer relates, noting that she immediately connected with the
writing and use of personification and description. “My husband
said it looked like something I would have written.”
“I Am From,” by School on Wheels’ (SoW) student
Diya Gonsalves depicts a contrasting world in which “Flips
in the grass, cartwheels in the sun” are as commonplace as “The
Puerto Rican food, Smells of smoke and drugs.” While Gonsalves’s
words are simple, her use of imagery and sensory description evoke
both beauty and pain.
Surova will perform her new song, "I Am From," on Saturday, August
9th at the Strike a Chord Concert to benefit SoW, a non-profit
organization that helps shrink the gaps in education one child
at a time by providing academic support and advocacy for children
experiencing homelessness. The concert will bring together 13 musicians
at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, to rock, roll and raise money
and school supplies to support SoW’s educational programs.
The concert will begin at 7:00 pm.
The performance was organized by SoW and Strike a Chord Concerts
for Charity, an ongoing effort to support nonprofit organizations
and benefits by raising money and awareness through music. The
event is family friendly and donations will be accepted at the
door. Artists will also donate proceeds from their CDs to SoW.
Surova, who describes her musical style as “pop-rock,” mostly
used Gonsalves’s original wording in her song’s chorus
and verses, although she added a few words and changed a few verb
tenses. Not wanting to alter the young writer’s original
thoughts and intending to balance the sharply contrasting images,
Surova worked hard to make the song “singable” without
turning it into “something commercial”. The final piece
is reminiscent of the elegant, emotion-filled lyrics and evocative
music of singer Dar Williams. When Surova performs her rendition
of the piece on August 9th, she will play the piano and sing.
Although the performer has never met Diya, Surova hopes the girl
will like hearing her poem as a song at the August 9th concert,
noting that it may be “strange” for her to hear it “put
to music.” For Surova herself, the opportunity to shape Diya’s
words into a song was a rare kind of artistic challenge.
“This was really special for me,” Surova observes. “Working
on it was really great.”
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25 April 2003, page D-14
by Steve Morse
RAINBOW IN A CAGE
a treat to discover this new record by a relatively unknown (at
least for now) Boston-area songwriter. Andrea Surova lives in Bedford
and writes the kind of confessional, highly intelligent pop that
Carly Simon has made a career of. The record is produced by Anthony
J. Resta (who has worked with Elton John and Duran Duran), so you
can be sure that there are pop hooks galore. The music is generally
tailored for the Triple A format, but songs such as the vocally
uplifting ''Everywhere Is Here'' and ''Halo'' (which has a Fleetwood
Mac vibe) could cross over to Top 40 radio with a little luck. Surova
has a knack for penning reflective numbers that also have a keen
sense of self-empowerment. An example is the title track, ''Rainbow
in a Cage,'' in which she sings, ''I won't let anyone brainwash
the colorful nations I build behind my eyes.'' That theme carries
over to ''I Won't Hate the World'' (laced with old-school synths
that give it an '80s feel) and the stately ''Air,'' about recovering
from a romantic setback. Surova is sometimes a bit tentative vocally
(like Simon), but there is a love of life and a joy of simple pleasures
that make one hope that an audience will discover her undeniable
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New England Music Scrapbook News
Tunes from the Northeast Corner
April 26, 2003
It can be really hard for a performer to get attention in the
early stages of a career. One might judge, though, from Friday's
Boston Globe, that ANDREA SUROVA has caught quite a break: first
getting to record with producer Anthony J. Resta, who has worked
such diverse artists as Duran Duran, Nuno Bettencourt, and Letters
Cleo; and second by getting her record reviewed by no less than
Morse. We've seen enough snags, such as the classic record-deal-gone-
bad, to know that the journey from here to stardom isn't necessarily
a sure thing; but she's getting off to a great start. We'll be on
the lookout for future news.
-- Alan Lewis