In some ways Anna Wrasse is your typical middle schooler.
She listens to Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeren. She’s quiet in class.
She opens her locker to notes from her boyfriend. She hates public speaking, and talking in class gives her stage fright.
The real stage is a different story.
Proficient in guitar, piano and music theory, Wrasse, 14, writes and performs her own music and has released a solo album, “At Night.”
After school she writes poetry about her life, then turns the stories into music. She’s currently working on her second album.
“I’m really big on making music that actually says something and doesn’t just say the same thing over and over again, like a lot of the music on B97,” Wrasse said. “I like songs that tell stories in real life so that people can connect with them.”
Last September the Kiwanis of South Central Indiana named Wrasse and local musician Dawn Keller the year’s Idol Teen and Idol Adult, respectively.
After winning these titles Keller shared the lyrics and melody for her song “Everybody” with Wrasse, who put together chord progressions, piano and backing vocals to create a slow, forceful duet that celebrates the value of friendship.
“Everyone needs someone to be their friend and to listen to them,” Wrasse said. “Especially right now, in a time when people are so freaked out about everything. Social media is so fast and shares everything that’s going on in the world.”
Wrasse’s work has been featured on Bloomington’s local radio station, WFHB 98.1 FM, and she has been featured in the Herald-Times, Bloom Magazine and the Indiana Daily Student.
Her peers at Jackson Creek Middle School know about her performing, but Wrasse is not treated like a celebrity, she said.
“I’m really quiet actually, so I’m almost sitting in the background,” Wrasse said. “When music comes up, everyone’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, Anna writes songs.’ I feel like I blend in a lot.”
Wrasse is an honors student, and she loves to read to get lost in books.
She just finished “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” a story about two girls living in Afghanistan. Reading stories helps her write her own stories, she said.
“When you read a song without the music, if it tells a story, then it’s kind of like reading a book that’s just written like a poem,” she said.
Wrasse is neither in the school choir nor band and instead opted for the exploring music class — a music production arts course.
In addition to writing and performing her own music, she is in a local competitive choir, “Syncopation.”
JCMS doesn’t have a talent show, even though she said she asked the National Junior Honor Society to plan one.
Until then, her peers will have to attend a show to see her perform.
“I think it’s better to be like that, than having people go, ‘That’s the singer-songwriter girl,’” she said. “Well, they might do that. I don’t know. I’m reading books a lot.”
Lisa Wrasse exposed her daughter to music at a young age.
Anna grew up listening to the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel.
She began piano lessons at age 6 and took up guitar at age 10.
She always wrote lyrics and has more than 20 journals, her mother said.
Around the age of 10 Wrasse shared her songs with her parents for the first time.
“The thing that I think is so cool is how she turns her life experiences into her music,” Lisa said. “It reflects who she is.”
When her grandfather was in a nursing home, Anna played guitar and sang two of her earliest songs, “For Josie” and “This Story,” at his bedside.
His Alzheimer’s prevented him from hearing his family’s words, but he heard his granddaughter’s music, Lisa said.
“He would always listen to her play and sing, that meant the world to me,” Lisa said. “That was her first audience. She grew into a performer playing for him.”
This year Anna is working on songs for her upcoming second album and has several shows lined up.
On Jan. 30 she will perform at the Kiwanis “Red Carpet Awards” at the Monroe County Convention Center.
Wrasse said she hopes to pursue a career in music.
“Obviously I’m trying to empower people, but it’s mostly whatever they decide to do with what they hear,” she said. “I’m just telling stories from my life, and hope that they can relate.”
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