Annie Duda the Talented Homecoming Queen plays Beautiful Music

And the GLSD 2020 Homecoming queen is … Annie Duda. Her eyes lit up, her smile stretched from ear to ear, the crowd cheered and roared. Annie Duda though is more than our homecoming queen, she is a stellar student, a creative musician, and an incredible artist who has learned to balance clubs, school, her faith, her friends, her family- as well as managing her upcoming singing career. Annie is a member of National Honor Society, Key Club, link crew, drama club. She is vice president of student council and president of choir. She performed in the fall plays and spring musicals. Outside of school she is also involved in church worship groups, and she teaches Sunday school.  Simple to say, she is a well rounded individual who has always challenged and pushed herself to be the best version of herself. 

Annie Duda’s rendition of the song “Rescue” by Lauren Daigle  in honor of Jerry Ferraro was filled with passion, respect, and honor. Her voice accentuated by the baby grand piano at Charter Oak Methodist Church felt angelic. “I am proud of her to perform with composure and maintain focus while capturing the emotion of the song and the ceremony,” said Jeff Duda, her father. Annie had other performances but this cover conveyed true emotion.

Annie’s talent gushes from within – through her voice, her songwriting, her guitar or piano playing, or even the ukulele. 

Since Annie was in elementary school she has always been involved with the arts; she experienced five spring musicals and three fall plays throughout her junior high and senior high years. Annie played Tessie in “Annie,” Lisa in “Mamma Mia,” Swift in “All in The Timing,” Pam in “the Canterville Ghost,” and Josie in the original fall play “Love… No Barriers”. 

When Annie played Tessie in the musical Annie during her junior year, J.Duda thought she brought out the character well because of her own personality. “She [Tessie] is heartfelt, earnest and sweet, like Annie. Playing that character felt like it was representative of her as an actress: very expressive and from the heart.”

Her love of music began early on. “In fifth grade, I loved the movie Lemonade Mouth and thought it was so cool they got to write and perform their own songs,” Annie said The movie about five kids forming a band and competing in a showdown intrigued Annie about writing, preparing, and performing songs. Throughout her life, she wrote down little notes and lyrics in notebooks or on small scraps of paper, but never thought of doing anything with it. 

This past summer, Annie released her first song called “Sixteen”.  “I actually started writing the song about a year before I even released it. Quarantine gave me the perfect opportunity and plenty of time to work and perfect this song,” said Annie. According to Annie, this song is about the life you live as a teenager when you’re 16, that ideal time that you want to appreciate forever. 

The song went through many changes and hard work before it was finished in Annie’s eyes. It began as an acoustic, but when Annie went to a summer songwriting camp, the song morphed again. She applied what she learned to the original song with a multitude of revisions. Real Life Music Camp held at Mr. Small’s in Pittsburgh  was run by Liz Berlin, owner and creative director of Mr. Small’s and a founding member of the multi-platinum selling groupRusted Root. “Berlin was very supportive personally and professionally. She advised her in composition and performance,” said J.Duda

The final version was released on Apple Music,Spotify, and Amazon Music, which she will always be proud of and hold deeply in her heart. 

She received instagram direct messages talking about the love and support they had for the song and how it made them feel. 

Her second song, “Lemonade”, was released in September. In this song Annie wrote about a strong lifelong relationship between her and her neighbors. “This song was definitely the same vibe, but a softer, more nostalgic version,” Annie said. The release of this self-recorded song was possible because of the Christmas gift equipment to perfect the final version of Lemonade. Before she knew it, her second song was released. 

While at home during the pandemic, Annie began writing her next song “Somebody,” about feeling trapped like you cannot escape. Annie captured the way all were feeling during quarantine. Annie took these emotions and feelings which then became incorporated into the theme of the GLSH fall play in which “Somebody” will be highlighted. Annie credits Dr. Snyder, English teacher, who helped fine tune the song before it became a musical accompaniment in “Love… No Barriers”. The song embodies the same understandings as the unique, original play which allows creativity and love to break barriers. 

“Sharing unique parts of yourself is always hard, so I would say it is nerve-racking but I try to remain optimistic and have positive energy. It’s really cool to put yourself out there in a way that some people can’t, I’m very fortunate and grateful for that,” said Annie. As an artist she wonders if other people are even going to listen to it? Are they even going to enjoy it? Are they going to understand my message I’m expressing through my words? 

“As long as I’m happy with my final piece, I’ll always be proud of myself. It’s a different experience for me once I put it out there, the listeners hear the final result, but behind that is changes, revisions, and months of work that I went through with it,” Annie stated. 

Annie feels the support from her  family and friends will always be a special part of her music career. She knows they will  continue to build her confidence and determination. “My friends are absolutely awesome about spreading the word. It’s also really cool to get their responses and what it means to them. It warms my heart that they listen to it even though they don’t have to,” Annie said. 

In the future Annie wishes to continue to pursue her music career in Nashville attending Lipscomb University or Belmont University. “I plan to go into commercial music. It will allow me to work in the music industry while still  incorporating songwriting and singing,” Annie said. 

Seeing Annie Duda perform live whether covers or original songs at Mr. Small’s or the Banana Split Festival in downtown Latrobe, or in the fall play is life changing. 

Annie’s incredible talent exudes her positive energy and charisma. Her hometown of Latrobe and the Greater Latrobe community will always be a part of who she is and will continue to impact her journey.