Better known as Hope Vista, she has been working her way toward a recording contract for several years, notching her one-million-hit target on YouTube earlier this year. She is currently playing live at popular venues around the state including the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park.
The former Bayonne resident, whose family still lives here, was touched deeply by Matt Uhls death as were hundreds of other students who held a candlelight vigil on campus in his memory. Vista went to her guitar and recorded her own tribute, "Hearts of Darkness,” in memory of Matt.
“I wrote it after the death of Matt Uhl, who was a well-known and much loved student at Rowan University,” she said.
Uhl was struck down on the street just off campus in April.
“My goal for this song is to not sell millions of copies, but to get the message out that drunk driving is dangerous, and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking is the worst decision you could make,” she said. “Besides dedicating this song to Matt Uhl, I would also like to dedicate this song to Matt's family, the Uhl's, and the Rowan chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha. “
The song got great feedback at the school where it was played on college radio, and she has performed it as the opening act of the Aaron Carter tour, the brother of one of the Back Street Boys. It has already passed the first round of X Factor USA and has been featured on various radio stations, such as Wild 95.5, WRSU, and Brookdale Community College.
Currently a solo artist, Vista has become a digital artist for Island Def Jam, a huge step toward achieving her dreams, since this is a label that represents bands such as Rihanna and Justin Bieber.
Her guitar work and her vocal talents allow her to express a number of emotions, changing with each song. She also can coin a lyrical phrase.
A student at Rowan University in the Class of 2015, Vista said she has grown up with music since she was 3 years old, mainly the classical music of her father and classic rock on the radio.
Her favorite band is The Rolling Stones, because of their longevity and their ability to continue to produce quality music.
Vista’s father is a music teacher at Henry Harris School.
Her songwriting began after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when she found music as a vehicle to express some of the feelings and stories associated with the tragedy. Many of her songs have an emotional depth that most people at age 20 haven’t yet realized. She says she isn’t afraid to sing about anything or say what is on her mind. She learns from others and draws on everything to inspire her, especially when she has writer’s block.
Although fully proficient with electric guitar, Vista said she performs “Hearts of Darkness” with an acoustic guitar.
“This allows me to highlight the lyrics and meaning rather than the production,” she said. “I remember the morning he passed away there were dark clouds over the campus. Everything felt heavy and sad. I grabbed my guitar. I wanted to write something that would prevent something like this happening again.”
“My grandmother still lives in Bayonne and my father still works in the Bayonne school system,” she said. “I would like to find a venue in Bayonne where I can play.”
You can hear the song on Youtube.com.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.