Alyssa Bonagura was born in Franklin, Tennessee and raised on a tour bus. Her parents were in a band that was signed to RCA Records called Baillie & The Boys. “I was a road baby,” she tells us. “Every day I was in a different city, and I grew up around Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, and George Strait.” Bonagura started to sing at the age of two and vividly recalls performing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” in front of over 20,000 people. She fell in love with being in front of a crowd and became a regular part of her parents’ set.
While being on the road with her parents, she learned how to sing harmonies and music became a part of her life in the most natural way. “I basically was just a sponge to everything they were doing,” she explains. She started to write her own songs with her dad when she was just five-years-old. The first thing she can remember writing was a silly tune called, “Dancer’s Life.” She was figuring out how to write a song, how to structure a song, understanding what a melody does, and how to conjure up lyrics as a child.
She also featured on a Kenny Rogers song as a kid for his Christmas play Christmas from the Heart. “He needed an angel to sing this part, he wanted it to be a young girl, and he met me on the road with my parents and heard me singing at some of the shows, so he had called me to do it,” she exclaims. “That was pretty surreal.”
Another standout moment came for Bonagura when Aerosmith’s frontman Steven Tyler called her to inform her he was going to record a song she had written titled, “I Make My Own Sunshine” for his country album We’re All Somebody From Somewhere. “That, as a songwriter, was exciting,” she tells us.
She started to tour with Marty Stuart at the age of 16 and questioned if college was the right path when all she wanted to do was immerse herself in the music scene. While attending a party in Nashville with her parents, she met English singer Siobhan Kennedy who told her about Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.”It was the only place I applied. And I told myself if I got in, I would go and I would dedicate myself to going to college,” she says. “I got in on a scholarship. It was the best decision I ever made.” Furthering her education helped Bonagura learn about music production, sound technology, and her diploma was even handed to her by Sir Paul McCartney himself.
Currently, she splits her time between the United States and the United Kingdom. “I’m half here, half there,” she exclaims. “I love being in both places.” She also spent some time in a band called The Sisterhood Band that had spent a lot of time touring in the UK.
Photo credit: Kacie Q
In 2020, a lot of things started to change for Bonagura. “I lost a lot of things that I thought were concrete. Our band broke up, we parted ways with the record company,” she says. “It was like all these little dreams that I had achieved, they were falling apart. It put me in a really weird place.” Then the pandemic hit. She turned to music to process her feelings as the world was flipping upside down. “I started writing from my soul again. And on my own.”
During quarantine, she began working with Canadian songwriter and producer Tawgs Salter. During one of their songwriting Zoom sessions, they got on the topic of transformation. On her healing journey, she discovered a poem by Paulo Coehlo called “The Lesson of the Butterfly.” “The whole point of the story is that these struggles are what make us stronger, and the whole reason the butterfly takes so long to get through the cocoon, is because it’s strengthening its wings,” she exclaims. The poem strongly resonated with her and that’s how her recent single, “New Wings,” was born. The story made her realize that these dark times, both personally and externally, are the chrysalis stage. The song centers around leaving the past behind and moving forward; it’s a breath of fresh air and feels like stepping into the shimmering daylight.
She also cites being scared to put out music alone again, but has found that many people have connected with the new track. Her fans and followers have been sharing their stories about how they’ve gotten their own “new wings” under the hashtags #mybutterflystory on social media.
Over the next couple of months, she plans on releasing more music that she wrote over the pandemic and releasing an album in 2022. She is also playing shows across the UK. “I’m just gonna hit the ground running with the new music and get back into Alyssa Bonagura and all the music and stories I want to share.”
To hear more of country music’s best new releases, head to our Playlists Page and follow The Nash New Releases playlist on Spotify. For the latest in country music news follow The Nash News on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok and don’t miss our brand new newsletter!