Chat with...Alena Abramowitz, a NCHS student opening for Talking Heads
Updated 1:11 pm, Friday, March 17, 2017
NEW CANAAN — For as long as Jan Schaefer-Abramowitz can remember, her daughter, Alena, has been a willing performer.
“When we adopted Alena, she was 3 years old and she was singing in Russian in the back of my car as I was driving around,” Schaefer-Abramowitz said. “And if she wasn’t singing, she was whistling.”
Since that time, Alena, now a high school senior, has never stopped performing, though she now sings primarily in English.
Before learning the piano and eventually the guitar, Schaefer-Abramowitz said her daughter would bang around on their piano at home, creating her own songs.
Though Schaefer-Abramowitz said hers isn’t a particularly musical house, Alena was exposed at an early age to some of her mother’s favorite artists, including the Rolling Stones, the Doors, the Beach Boys and the Eagles.
Today, Alena gravitates toward singers like Adele, who blend elements of jazz, R&B and soul.
See Alena perform
A member of the Saxe Middle School and later the New Canaan High School choral programs, Alena even earned a fan in Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., after performing at a small gathering in February hosted by the Kennedy Center, a Trumbull-based nonprofit.
“The Kennedy Center has been around since the early 1950s and they help all ages, children to seniors, that have learning disabilities and special needs,” Schaefer-Abramowitz said. “They have this one program working with kids who are autistic, and they asked Alena if she would come sing to them. They totally surprised her with Sen. Blumenthal being there and giving her an award.”
Alena will perform a cover of the jazz standard “Blue Skies,” as sung by Ella Fitzgerald, in front of a crowd of roughly 500. It is both an opportunity for her to bask in the spotlight of a solo and an opportunity to fulfill another passion of hers: performing in front of children.
“I like to write ballads about my past, and some of them really relate to other children and other teenagers,” Alena said. “It makes kids feel better to know that other people have been through the same thing. It can be rough, and music might make them feel better.”
Alena will be studying music in college next school year and hopes to continue to work with children professionally after she graduates, either as a music therapist or as a kindergarten music teacher.
And though she’s never performed at such a large venue, Alena said she’s not especially apprehensive about taking the stage.
“I’m a little nervous, but I think I’ll ace it,” Alena said. “I will just think of my parents, because they’re my rock.”