Andrea Flanagan

Playing with her band, Damaskus Blue, one more time before she makes her transition to Colorado, singer-songwriter-musician Andrea Flanagan, a Music Business major, says her point of view regarding music changed when she was given the opportunity to help a family with her musical talents. Flanagan, a 2005 graduate of Blue Ridge High School, began playing music when she was 14.

WHITE MOUNTAINS – Andrea Flanagan is a White Mountain girl who once had stars in her eyes for the big time music-world. Today, she still has stars, but after coming face-to-face with someone who really needed her musical gifts, she is directing that twinkle in her eye in another direction – writing from the heart and not for just 15 minutes of fame.

Born in St. Johns and raised in Lakeside from age 14 on, Andrea went to Blue Ridge High School and graduated in the class of 2005.

Her affinity for music started when she was a teen. Though she didn’t inherit the music gene from her family like many do, she did inherit her mom and dad’s love for music, and they nourished that love by taking her to many concerts.

Andrea was into classic rock and the 80s hair metal music. It was music videos and MTV then, and Godsmack was one of her favorite bands.

“Those people who rose out of the 90s are rock ‘n roll, raw and grungy – singing about real problems and I thought it looked like fun,” recalled Andrea. “I had stars in my eyes back then.”

Her first experience with singing was at Christmas time at the Catholic Church in St. Johns.

“I loved the music and the sounds a bunch of different voices can make.” explained Andrea.

She began learning to play the guitar when she was 14. Her sister was learning drums and got a drum kit, but never played it. Andrea discovered she had a real affinity for the drums. Getting out a half hour earlier each day from school than her sister, she hurried home to play those drums before her sister got home.

“A friend heard me play and told me he just joined a band,” said Andrea. “He said ‘I am terrible at drums, do you want to do it?’ It was a punk band and I was introduced to playing on stage. I was an introvert,” continued Andrea, “so I felt this was a way of easing into it. I played more than one instrument, but with drums I was in the back.”

The band played for school events and around other places which helped her get more comfortable on stage. She even performed with the ever-popular Lakeside band, Gorky.

“I had rhythm but no instruction,” said Andrea.

She joined the school choir to sing and dance. Unfortunately, feeling they picked favorites – even though she says she was the only Alto that sang on key — she quit the choir, but not music.

“I did not want to quit singing so I worked on it on my own,”said Andrea. “I used YouTube and studied techniques of rock and gained a more powerful voice. From then on, until my mid-20s, I was a singer and played with cover bands in Phoenix.”

When she first enrolled in college Andrea decided on engineering. When she saw others in that field graduate only to wait tables, she did a course correction and decided on Music Business as her major.

While there Andrea played with 80s rock tribute bands.

She took a song writing workshop for credit and her teacher was Jill Cohn from Seattle, a working musician who had worked with Jewel and others.

“She helped me and I decided to stop rock bands and work on song writing,” said Andrea. “I quit playing the guitar and only used it for sound for my songwriting.”

“After that I bought an acoustic guitar and did a lot of open mics,” continued Andrea. “I booked and promoted myself and got five gigs booked in the first couple of weeks. Business Music taught me how to use my talents to make money; I made no money just playing in tribute bands.”

Living in Denver, a place she loved, medical issues of her own and those of her grandmother back in Lakeside beckoned her to return home for a while. Then three years went by.

During that time she worked in the print industry, helped her family with her grandmother and grandfather and, of course, became part of the music scene once again.

“Recently, I changed my view about my own music,” said Andrea. “I used to be majorly focused on selling it to prove myself, but because of what I have been through, I have been humbled. I still have to prove myself, but the biggest and most important thing for me was writing a song for a family whose daughter is in the hospital with an auto immune issue,” she explained.

“They are trying to find a cure, and for Christmas they wanted a musician to help them. They wrote lyrics and everyone wanted to charge them. I said, ‘I am a music business major,’ so I wrote a song for them and named it “Joy.” It is a song about the joy of life,” said Andrea proudly. “I wrote it, arranged it and did the video. Now they can use it to try to raise money by putting it on their fundraising page. “

“This is possibly my music career,” said Andrea. “Instead of writing songs that sell and getting 15 minutes of fame, my focus has shifted to my songwriting. Music should be about feeling.”

“I love the blues because it is not over complicated; blues are soul – raw emotion,” confirmed Andrea.

Real life is that way too and it is all about timing. Andrea’s help with the family is no longer needed, she was laid off from her job three weeks ago, and her eight year relationship that could never move forward due to timing has now synced. All these things have opened doors for Andrea to make her transition to Pueblo, Colorado, where she feels like she fits in with her Hispanic culture.

“The worse part about moving is missing my family,” said Andrea, “but we will keep in touch.”

“I will miss my band (Damaskus Blue). When I told them I was leaving for Pueblo,” said Andrea, “They said, ‘That’s real far.’ They have the right attitude; they are not divas. They are people I have meshed with – you live with them — know their thoughts and quirks. They make music for the right reason. It’s hard to leave them.”

Andrea’s change in location will not affect the changes she plans to make in the music industry.

“I know how things are run (in the music business) and I want to influence it and navigate it in ways to do it ethically,” said Andrea.

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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