Loren Allred, who sang in the Oscar-nominated, Grammy Award–winning film “The Greatest Showman,” released her debut single “This Summer” on Sept. 14. The track shines bright during a chaotic time and serves as a reminder for people to ponder the various possibilities ahead.
Allred’s hit song “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman” took the 88th spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it also accumulated more than 500 million worldwide streams as of September 2020. Grammy-winning musician Michael Bublé also said that she has “the most beautiful voice and control.”
Like many people, Allred felt tremendously isolated over the past few months due to social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, she found the courage to turn the situation around and be productive.
“I went through a breakup right as New York was going into lockdown, and at the same time, my whole upcoming year of performances was canceled, so I just had so many emotions that needed to be expressed,” she said. “Despite the isolation, and perhaps because of it, this was an unprecedentedly creative time for me.”
As of this summer, Allred has been a New York City resident for 10 years, which some might say makes her an “official New Yorker.” She had grown accustomed to the way the city usually feels in the summer: very vibrant and full of energy and love.
“When this summer came around, I could feel a universal longing for how things used to be. I wanted to reconnect with what summer in the city has always meant to me, even though we’ve been forced to be distant from each other,” she expressed. “Last summer, I fell deeply in love, and I wanted to recapture that feeling.”
(Photo courtesy of Loren Allred)
Allred found herself wondering if it would ever be possible to feel that way again. Her new track “This Summer” was an attempt to time travel to that period in her life.
The singer revealed that her songwriting formula varies. More often than not, she and her collaborator, Seul, come up with a single melody that leads them to a concept relevant to what she is going through at the time.
“When the concept is personal and relevant to me, I’m close to the emotion, and I know what the real heart of the song is going to be, so it just flows,” she said. “Whereas if I’m trying to envision a feeling or draw on something that happened in the past, the feeling isn’t as fresh and I lose touch with the core of the sentiment I’m trying to convey. Timeliness is essential to my process.”
The process of writing “This Summer” was incredibly emotional for Allred. She said that longing for someone you used to be with makes you reminisce about certain memories.
“I found myself reliving those moments in the studio, which was at times really difficult for me. When it came time to turn these memories into words, I had to re-experience them, which was challenging but turned out to be not only fruitful, but therapeutic as well,” she mentioned.
The lyrics in the verses are representative of real highlights from Allred’s relationship — the memories that she found herself longing for the most.
She expressed, “The idea of going inside yourself, almost pretending a bit, is the heart and soul of the song’s message. During a period of fear and uncertainty, I think it’s crucial to protect yourself, from the inside out. The song is saying that we can still look inside ourselves and, with some imagination, believe that love will carry us through hard times.”
Allred’s collaborator Seul understood that they shouldn’t crowd the song with too much music or overproduce it, so as not to overshadow the ultimately uncomplicated themes.
“We paired soaring guitar lines and dissonant chords to bring the themes to the forefront sonically while also aiming for a juxtaposition between nostalgic, understated verses and a big, anthemic chorus,” she mentioned.
(Photo courtesy of Loren Allred)
Loren Allred’s parents were classical musicians who helped develop her profound passion for music. However, Allred said that she truly found her voice around the age of 12 when she discovered the powerhouse vocals of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion and the rich tone of Toni Braxton.
Allred was initially discovered by a manager connected to Ne-Yo’s team when she was making videos on YouTube as a teenager. This led to a contract with Def Jam Records, which served as her introduction to the music industry and in turn led to her competing on NBC’s The Voice.
“Eventually, I got my big break as a featured vocalist on ‘The Greatest Showman’ soundtrack and was featured on Michael Bublé’s album ‘love.’ After that, I was introduced to David Foster, who invited me to perform on his tour and PBS special. I’m so grateful for the mentors I’ve had in the music industry and the doors they’ve opened for me.”
Allred’s number one piece of advice to aspiring singers is to never turn down a small job because you just don’t know who you might meet and what opportunities might arise through a relationship with them.
“I have always believed that when preparation meets opportunity, you will be rewarded. One lesson I’ve learned recently is that it can be intimidating to try songwriting, but you can’t let that stop you,” she said. “When you’ve written your own music, the songs will inevitably be an authentic fit for your voice. People do want to hear your story, and they will connect with your music when the music you make is true to who you are.”
Contact Ron Rocky Coloma at rcoloma ‘at’ stanford.edu.