The Musician Spotlight Series shines a light on up-and-coming bands and solo acts creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their music, their collaborators, and why they do what they do.


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“Since releasing her debut single at the age of 13, Olivia Penalva has evolved into a versatile artist and songwriter. Boasting over 25 million streams to date and several Top 20 radio hits, Olivia has joined the ranks of Canada’s rising pop stars. In 2021, Olivia earned herself a Top 20 spot on Canadian radio for her hit single “Love Me” which then became the #2 most-added song at CHR Mediabase. Her following single “Ex’s” hit the Top 20 on CHR and Hot AC radio in Canada, and was Olivia’s foray into US radio, earning her a Top 50 slot on mainstream pop radio. Her brand new album Spiderwebs was released on May 10″.


When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

I’ve always loved music since I was a little kid, but I think it was around the age of 11 when I decided that I would pursue it as a career, which I find kind of hilarious and ambitious for a kid to decide. I remember being at an audition for a kids singing competition and I was so nervous to get on stage that I almost backed out, but my mom told me that I could either walk out with the chance of regretting not trying, or I could do it and if I hated it, I’d never have to go back. So I decided to do it and when I got off stage I felt so good and proud that I told my mom “this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.” And I’ve been here ever since.


Are you trained? How did you develop your skills?

When I realized as a kid that I could sing, I went into vocal lessons right away because I wanted to learn more. I had a lot of gigs from a young age so we would use my vocal sessions to rehearse and practice, because my vocal coach would also accompany me on piano at all my gigs. She was like family to me and is still in my life to this day, although I no longer train or take lessons. Those few years were so valuable to my life and I am so grateful to have those memories.


Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

I have so many that it’s hard to choose. There are so many talented artists out there who have inspired me in one way or another. But I always come back to Norah Jones and Ed Sheeran. Those were my two favourite artists as a kid. Norah Jones because she was so talented and vocally so inspiring and Ed Sheeran because I loved his storytelling. I credit both of them to a lot of the reasons why I started singing and writing.


How would you describe your sound?

I would say very honest and vulnerable. My sound has definitely evolved over the years but the one thing I feel has always stayed the same, is the honesty in the messaging. Music has always been an outlet/form of therapy for me and my goal has always been to create music that people feel understood by when they listen to it.


What’s your favourite tune in your repertoire and why?

My favourite song in my repertoire is probably a song off of my last EP called “Assembly Required”. It’s about falling in love when you feel a little broken or messy, something that so many of us can relate to. The worry of someone not loving you because of all of the baggage you come with. But the right person will love you not despite but because of those things, because they make you who you are.


What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?

Everything I play is like a diary of my life and when people come to my show I think they’ll see that we as humans go through so many of the same emotions, feelings and experiences in life. I feel like the shows are a place where we can all come together and bond over our shared experiences whether that be trauma, heartbreak, falling in love or self-discovery, we can all relate. And overall, just fun! I want those who come to any of my shows to leave feeling like they had a good time.


Where can we find your music?

You can find me on all streaming and social platforms. Especially my YouTube channel. There are videos on there with songs I’ve been writing or covering since I was 11 so that page is really a diary of my entire journey though this career.


Twitter: @Oliviapenalva

Facebook: /OliviaMusicLive

Instagram: @oliviapenalva