Written by Justin Carrano and Christy Hinko Friday, 14 January 2011 00:00On a cold December night at the Starbucks on Route 110, Jessica Carvo shared a warm cup and conversation with the Observer about music.
Carvo, a resident and graduate of Farmingdale High School, can add singer, songwriter and actress to the bill. On her website she says industry folk would call her a “singer who moves well.” This is a modest description for someone who beat out singers from around the world at a New York City audition, to be the newest and youngest member of the quintet Bell’Aria.
The audition was kind of a fluke Carvo said, “I never really jumped, never really leaped, so I said just go for it!” She laughed, remembering not committing to a subscription to Backstage, the performance industry publication that lists auditions for actors and singers. Instead, she borrowed a friend’s copy, who received the subscription. She found the audition and went for it.
Bell’Aria is made up of Gabriel Burrafato, Jessica Carvo, Angelica DiCastro, Christopher Macchio and Miriam Pultro, formed in February 2010.
The talent of this group makes up the soundtrack of the Italian-American experience. On their debut album Little Italy released on November 23, 2010 with EMI’s Manhattan Records, the quintet reinvigorates a bevy of classic Italian-American songs, creating a sonic journey for listeners of all ethnic backgrounds through the rich cultural history Italian immigrants and their descendents have forged in America.
The album allows young listeners an introduction to timeless tunes, while giving the older generation a new perspective on some of the most loved traditional songs. The group’s music pays homage to the likes of Dean Martin, Mario Lanza, and Louis Prima, while adding a fresh, fun and fiery spin on staples such as “That’s Amore,” “Mambo Italiano” and “Volare” to Italian classics such as “Funiculi Funicula” and “Santa Lucia.”
“It is important to do what you fear most,” Carvo said. She tries to bring an element of fun to the group, noting, “If I don’t make it fun, I haven’t done my job!”
Carvo enjoys the music and feeling of nostalgia it invokes, while hoping to introduce younger generations to the music.
Local fan and Five Towns College music alum Nancy Menechino can relate, and upon listening to Bell’Aria she fondly recalls, “Sunday dinners and pasta, lots of pasta!”
Strong family ties, a high personal work ethic, and values she said she learned in team sports carry over in her work, describing her band mates as “very supportive of her.” Carvo delights in the collaborative effort and enjoys cheering others on rather than self-promotion.
She owes her start to an unlikely source. A singing mermaid enchanted the young girl who sang along with Arielle in the Little Mermaid. In school, she said she always enjoyed, “being around the people who made the noise.” However, the music teacher at Northside Elementary once told her that she expected more from her, and upon hearing her sing, nurtured her special talent. It left an impression on young Carvo, one that she never forgot, and music has been a part of her life ever since.
“I knew she would never give up because she has ambition and the talent to back it up, the drive,” said Farmingdale High School Chorale Director Michelle Lindsley. “She’s got a beautiful, strong voice; she’s got a everything going for her and I just adore her.”
Lindsley said they met when Carvo was 12 years old; she was the school’s leading soprano. She had directed Carvo in the school musicals as the lead.
At the University of Delaware preferring a wider range of studies, she was a Communications major while performing with the Deltones.
Director Ari Amon described her singing as “vocally flexible,” being able to sing a variety of styles. Noticing her “natural gift,” he wrote several songs just for her voice including a heartfelt and alluring arrangement of Feels Like Home. The song is one of Carvo’s favorites to sing.
For 2011, Carvo plans to continue to hone her writing skills, as with tunes like Paralyzed which can be seen on YouTube, or at www.jessicacarvo.com.
As for her thoughts on a successful future in performing as a musician Carvo said, “If you do what you love, you find a way.”
Bell’Aria’s August performance “Live from Las Vegas” can be seen on local public television station WLIW or at http://www.bellariamusic.com/. Bell’Aria will kick off a national tour at Town Center in Manhattan in the spring.