Las Cruces songwriter gets on ‘Songland’

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Alyssa Newton grew up in Las Cruces and always loved the country/pop sound.

“I grew up on Taylor Swift,” she said. “I was fascinated with the entertainment industry and started writing in elementary school.”

She wrote her first song at 9, titled “Sugar Rush” about a boy at a bake sale.

After graduating from Mesilla Valley Christian Schools in 2015, she was off to Nashville to attend Belmont University, where she majored in songwriting and graduated in 2019.

Newton was invited to participate in the NBC songwriting reality show, “Songland,” which bills itself as “an authentic view into the creative process of songwriting. It gives undiscovered writers the chance to pitch their original song to top producers and recording artists in the music business.”

On June 1, Newton appeared in the show to pitch a song she cowrote with and two others: “Made for Something.” She sang it to guest celebrity artist Bebe Rexha and producer-mentors Ryan Tedder, Shane McAnnally and Ester Dean. Rexha was looking for a song for the Tokyo Olympic Games, and the episode was recorded before the COVID-19 epidemic and the cancelation of the games this year.

She had seen Rexha when the performer opened for the Jonas Brothers.

“It was pretty surreal,” she said. “There were a lot of people I look up to. I dropped into a new world really fast. It was pretty neat for someone who is as fascinated with the entertainment industry as I am. It’s not every day that Ryan Tedder of One Republic hums your song.”

Although her song was not chosen by Rexha, Newton was pleased with the whole experience in Las Angeles, where she spent a week getting ready for the show.

“It was a whirlwind of an experience,” Newton said. “It was styling appointments, interviews and we filmed around the art district of L.A. We do a lot to get it ready for the show. The amount of time spent filming interviews is so much more than the final cut.”

And she made some special connections, loving the time spent with fellow show contenders Gregg Scott, Anna Graceman and Josh Vida.

“My favorite part was connecting with the other people on the show,” she said. “I love getting to share the opportunity with them.”

Newton’s father, Joel, and sister, Aharayah, are attorneys, but her family is very supportive of her pursuits and used to her love of the industry.

“Dad always told me to ‘love what you do and respect it, or you are never going to do it,’” she said.

The song she pitched on the show, “Made for Something,” is one that is close to her heart she said. It means a lot to her, she said, because its about taking to opportunity to create something with the world.

“Believe in your purpose,” she said. “It’s about following the dream you get tugged to. You’ve got to sing it and live with it.”

Newton said she gets her inspiration from many sources.

“Faith has always been big for me,” she said. “The creator is always a part of my life. Songs are about inspiration. It can come from anything – friends, shows, experiences. And it doesn’t necessarily strike all the time.”

 Newton was featured in the eighth episode of Season 2 of “Songland” which aired Monday, June 1 and is available for streaming on the NBC website. Her previous project, “Love is,” can be found on her Facebook page, alyssanewtonmusic.

“I am thankful for the way my hometown is championing me with my music,” she said.

No stranger to the Las Cruces music scene, Newton is a performer in her own right, as well, loving to release songs she writes. She was part of a big homecoming show at Las Cruces Plaza with Bri Bagwell and Josh Grinder two years ago and has been part of the Country Music Festival, too.

“It’s been a crazy week,” Newton said following the airing of the episode “It’s been really fun to connect friends and family. I’ve had a lot of people from a lot of different circles in my life tell me about watching the show and loving the song.”

And because Newton’s song was not used in the context of “Songland,” all rights reverted to her and she released “Made for Something” the day after the show aired. It is now available on multiple music streaming platforms.

“I’m collaborating with a music company out of Nashville who will be pitching it,” she said. “I’m excited, I think the song still has a future ahead. I really believed in it the day that I wrote it, and I still believe in it now.”

Elva K.  Österreich may be reached at elva@lascrucesbulletin.com.

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