Teen singer Ella Beyer channels Carole King and Joni Mitchell
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Ella Beyer, 17, is an old soul.
Instead of crushing on Shawn Mendes or following Taylor Swift, Beyer cites Carole King, The Beatles and Joni Mitchell as her inspirations.
“I just really love how those artists and The Beatles are just so raw and vulnerable with what they talk about,” said the Pasadena resident.
“They don’t hide from the truth. I love that singer-songwriter style of writing. I love how The Beatles weren’t afraid to talk about social injustices and civil rights.”
Beyer is making her mark on the music business with the release of the single “Six Feet,” which demonstrates her skillful songwriting.
“I liked someone at my school right when school shut down,” the bubbly Beyer said. “I thought, ‘Oh darn it. I hope he understands what I’m feeling, even if we have to be far apart.’ That inspired it, along with my friends and their relationships and having to be apart from who they love. It’s not only a song about relationships. It’s about missing anyone.”
Does she still miss her classmate at California School for the Arts, where she’s a senior?
“I got over it a long time ago,” she said giggling.
Beyer is the progeny of her dad, Dave Beyer, a professional touring drummer for Christopher Cross, Melissa Etheridge and Wilson Phillips. Her mom, Debra Davis, is a singer-songwriter.
“I grew up going to their shows and just being inspired by the way the music made the crowd feel,” she said. “I love seeing people singing along with the words and connecting with it. I wanted to create something that people could relate to and connect with. That’s how I got into it. I was surrounded by it in my house.”
At California School for the Arts, where she’s a senior, she’s taken songwriting and singing classes, making for a well-rounded arts education.
“I love being around these different collaborators,” she said. “Everyone is an artist at the school.”
When she’s not writing music or studying, Beyer uses her talent in partnership with the Dragon Kim Foundation, where she volunteers with Fostering the Arts. Her unique ability to mix her original works with covers of well-loved songs is a perfect fit for the program, which works to expose kids in the foster care system to opportunities in the arts.
“Fostering the Arts provides music and performing arts classes to kids in the foster care system,” said Beyer who founded Fostering the Arts with classmate Leilani Rodriguez. “We worked with one facility in Pasadena and others Downtown.
“We started it through the Dragon Kim Foundation, which is a great nonprofit organization. That provides high schoolers with money to help their community and what they’re passionate about. We started it during the pandemic because we didn’t know it would be a pandemic. When the pandemic started, we started these interactive videos, which we can send anywhere with a single link.”
Beyer recited statistics from the top of her head: there are 37,000 foster youths in Los Angeles and Orange counties who don’t have access to the arts. Beyer and Rodriguez have the opportunity to arts classes, so they wanted to give the less fortunate the same chance,
“It’s a vulnerable time, especially growing up,” she said.
Beyer has also performed musical grams for first responders around Southern California, from Orange County to Downtown to Atwater Village.
“We perform for firefighters and nurses and the elderly—anyone who is especially at risk right now,” she added. “We did it from afar and just seeing their smiles made me emotional.”
Beyond her work in these volunteer and nonprofit settings, Beyer has participated in shows including the Berklee College of Music Songwriting Sessions and performs locally at venues such as the Alex Theatre, No Future Café and Descanso Gardens.
While “Six Feet” is Beyer’s first official release, she has performed many original songs live. Beyer plans to release three more singles in 2021 and an album with her Philadelphia-based record label, Winding Way Records.
“They’re super supportive and have given me great advice and promotion tactics,” she said. “I’m just so grateful to have that backbone. I know every 17 year old doesn’t have a record deal.”
Her parents are thankful, too. Davis said she’s impressed with her daughter’s musical prowess.
“She’s so passionate about music,” Davis said. “When we knew we were having a girl, we thought hopefully she’ll want to be a musician.
“Even though she grew up in a family of musicians, if she wanted to go into veterinary medicine or architecture, we would have been fine with that.”
Davis said, however, Beyer has been singing since she was 2 and quickly learned the piano.
“She made up songs really early on,” she added. “She’s worked at perfecting her craft and all of that. It’s really a passion she’s working on.”