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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.

CINDY CANTRELL
© Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
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 of Massachusetts
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 style of 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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The Boston Globe
25 April 2003, page D-14
by Steve Morse

Andrea Surova
RAINBOW IN A CAGE

What 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 talent.

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New England Music Scrapbook News
Tunes from the Northeast Corner
April 26, 2003
Issue 2003:10

ANDREA SUROVA:

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 by
getting to record with producer Anthony J. Resta, who has worked with
such diverse artists as Duran Duran, Nuno Bettencourt, and Letters to
Cleo; and second by getting her record reviewed by no less than Steve
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