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Kent teen rocks out: Amanda Hardy emerges as lead vocalist
Amanda Hardy is your average 16-year-old girl with an above average dream.
"I just really wanted to play music out in front of people," said the aspiring singer from Kent.
Since her debut at Seattle's Showbox Market when she was just 13, Hardy has accomplished goals it takes others years to achieve.
As the lead vocalist for her self-titled hard rock band, Hardy estimates she has played nearly 100 shows in the past three years. She and her bandmates have played the Showbox four times, opened for Styx and Queensrÿche, and have attracted fans throughout the world from India to England.
Hardy, who carries a soft, powerful, deep voice, eventually wants to strike it big commercially.
Hardy and lead guitarist Michael Arms have been performing and co-writing music for about a year. Arms describes their style as "very listener friendly with hints of a tad harder style of music."
Hardy believes Arms' metal influences account for the harder edge while her voice softens their sound. Another element the bandmates like to incorporate in their music is the harmonic minor, a scale pattern with Middle Eastern roots. It's easily recognizable in a favorite song of theirs titled "The Liar".
"There's so many different parts to it, and they all go together really well," Hardy said. "I belt in it just super high at the end, and it really releases a lot of emotion for me."
The band has played venues from Fife to Olympia and participated in Kentridge High School's Battle of Bands last year. However, the band didn't take home the trophy.
"It's a work in progress," said Hardy, a sophomore at Kentridge. "Haven't won over the high school kids yet."
But that doesn't deter her. The overall success of the band has fans recognizing Hardy wherever she plays.
"It's a little weird to go to school and have everybody be like 'who are you?' and then go out into shows and be like 'hey! let's hang out,'" Hardy said. "It's two totally different worlds."
Even some of Hardy's music idols recognize her face.
"We went to a show back in December at the Crocodile, and Jerry Cantrell (guitarist for Alice in Chains) said, 'Oh hey, Amanda'" Hardy said. "I was like, 'Oh my god!'"
Hardy has met many performers, including bassist Ben Shepherd from Soundgarden, Pacific Northwest native Duff Mckagen from Guns N' Roses, and several members from Alice in Chains.
Her biggest professional influence is Layne Staley from Alice in Chains.
As for family influences, Hardy's dad first exposed her to rock and roll with bands like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin.
Hardy's not the only one in her family with talent.
"I got my genes from my great grandpa who played with B.B. King and a lot of famous jazz musicians," Hardy said. "(And) my uncle (is) a really good blues singer and harmonicist."
Unique amongst teenagers, Hardy's dream of becoming a star is something the rest of her family can really get behind.
"We support her dream 100 percent as if it were basketball or softball or anything else," said her mother, Colleen. "It's just it's music."
The band's next project involves releasing three separate singles and a video to accompany each one. All this will lead up to the band's debut album.
At almost every show she attends, Hardy meets more musicians just like her. And for being one of the youngest performers on stage, Hardy has gained respect from a group of people who share the same dream.
"It's cool having friends outside of school who relate to what you do," Hardy said.