Only 14 years old, Amanda Raya never complains. Even though she can’t see with her eyes like others, she still has more vision than most people ever will. As her mother recalls, “Amanda’s inner strength, curiosity, ability to learn new concepts, letters, and numbers, before the age of two, blew me away, especially given that she was visually impaired”. But there is so much more to Amanda than just this.
A pop-songstress who writes her own songs – and can be heard playing piano and guitar in them – Amanda tackles topics well beyond her years, even in her first single, “Without No Doubt”, produced by Ashton Price (Lisa Swain, Kataklysm, Ripped), and mastered at the world famous Lacquer Channel, by Noah Mintz (Peaches, Broken Social Scene, Sarah Slean). As the song’s powerful, but mildly melancholic chorus explains, “I’m telling you without no doubt, I miss you when you’re not around, so baby, tell me please, how you feel” – these are certainly not the pained pleas of your average 14-year-old girl. But then again, Amanda Raya is not your average 14-year-old girl.
Originally born in Montreal, but raised in Toronto, Canada, Amanda can’t be stopped when she sets her mind to a goal. “When Amanda entered junior kindergarten,” remembers her mother, “you can well imagine the challenges that lay ahead for us, and for her. Yet quickly, she found her place, and captured her teachers’ hearts. As she progressed from grade to grade, she needed to learn Braille. That in itself was a challenge! But Amanda did it, and was reading and writing like her peers, and continued, in her own special way, to mesmerize all who got to know her.
A straight-A student (and indeed, an overachiever), Amanda regularly partakes in choir and theater (often earning the coveted solos and lead roles, respectively), plus a slew of other extra-curricular activities: She water skis, kayaks, sails, swims, camps out with her friends, and is a major source of inspiration to all who come into contact with her.
And let’s not forget about piano lessons.
At age five, Amanda began. She learned by ear, and quickly soaked up the information. Before long, she was mastering complicated pieces, and writing and performing her own compositions. One such composition, an early demo version of “Without No Doubt”, was heard by her former fifth-grade teacher, and passed along to that teacher’s son, a music industry executive in Hollywood, California. He was blown away by Amanda’s unconventionally beautiful voice, catchy song-writing abilities, and inspiring story, and he quickly got her booked in a studio to finish the piece professionally. When listening, one can easily hear how Amanda takes much of her inspiration from some of her idols, like Taylor Swift and Alyssa Reid, while still creating a sound all her own. No surprise to anyone, Amanda is addicted to American Idol, The Voice, and – like most teenagers – her iPhone.
At the end of the day, Amanda Raya is a sweet, fun-loving girl, just like most others her age. But there is a major difference that separates her from the pack: Amanda has an unparalleled drive for musical success, and the talent to take her there.