Vytla Performs at National Singing Competition

Lily Geiser | Staff Writer

Junior Soumya Vytla is finding her voice on the national stage.

Watch Vytla’s performance at YoungArts’ National Arts Competition.

Vytla participated in the YoungArts’ National Arts Competition, a competition for high school artists across the country. Entering in the popular music category, she became a finalist and besides receiving a scholarship of up to $10,000, she also had the opportunity to participate in the National YoungArts Week program.

“Before going in, to be honest, I didn’t know how big of a deal it was,” Vytla said. “I had never gone anywhere without my parents before, and that fact that we were performing–I was nervous. I just thought, you know, ‘I’m going to go to this, and then come back to my normal routine’. That’s definitely not what happened.”

Vytla has been singing for over a decade, beginning her lessons when she was just five years old. Now, Vytla records her music in her at-home studio, where she documents her singing on her YouTube channel. Vytla also plays the piano and writes songs for upcoming Spotify and iTunes streaming. Over the years, she has sung several different styles of music, before finally settling on pop music as her preferred genre.

“When I first started singing, I started singing Indian music,” Vytla said. “My parents are from India, so that’s kind of what I grew up doing. I started with classical music, and then I went into Indian film music, and then I went into American music, pop music. It’s cool to kind of bring together those two parts of my life, because they are who I am. I’m both Indian and American.”

Like Vytla, the other participants in the YoungArts competition brought their own perspectives into their chosen art forms. Despite being the only Ohio native, Vytla said that she was able to form relationships with the other students and learn from their diverse input.

“Everyone there is just so artistic and passionate in their field, and it makes you more driven,” Vytla said. “That’s the environment. I got to work with so many people who were professionals in their field, but the fact that I got to work with my peers was another great experience. Because they were all so good. Just the best of the best. We were able to feed off each other’s passion.”

Junior Soumya Vytla became a finalist in the YoungArts’ National Arts Competition for her singing.

The YoungArts event provided numerous opportunities for the participants, including master classes with professionals like Emilio Estefan and Joan Lader, as well as realistic audition scenarios and studio tours. One of these opportunities was a chance for the students to put on a live performance, for both their peers in the program and community members, which Vytla said was a fulfilling experience.

“After my performance, there were a lot of people that came up and said I did well,” Vytla said. “I never experienced that kind of thing, where people were moved by what I sang. One of the girls cried because it meant something to her. It was a new kind of gratification.”

This performance, along with the program as a whole, was a turning point for Vytla. Although she was always interested in pursuing a career in music, Vytla said YoungArts made her more confident in her abilities to make her dream a reality.

“For once, I felt like this was possible for me,” Vytla said. “Before YoungArts, I was like ‘yeah, of course I want to be a singer, but that’s never going to hap- pen for me.’ I’m just like everyone else that wants to be a singer. But [after- wards] I felt, not validated, validated in a sense, but more like I had more confidence in myself. Like, I can actually do this.”

Despite her desire to pursue music, Vytla still acknowledges the uncertainty of it as a potential career path. She said she plans to keep her options open going forward, without forgetting about her passion.

“I’m not really sure what I’m going to do,” Vytla said. “It’s still kind of blurry. But college is definitely still in there. Academics are important for me, education is important, and I know I have the potential to go into pre-med and be successful. But I also know I have that same – and even more – motivation for music. I don’t want to let go of that, because being there I knew that’s what I love to do.”

Photo contributed by YoungArts National Arts Competition.