BY BRANDY WHITE | PHOTO BY JENNIFFER MERIDA
While most other high school students were playing sports, or starring in musicals, Alyssa Coco, 21, was singing in cover bands around Rochester in hopes to one day make it big.
Coco, who grew up in Penfield, would sing at events such as weddings, awaiting the day she would get a chance to be on American Idol. “Ever since the show was on I’ve always been interested in it,” said Coco. “I was patiently waiting to be 16.”
By the seventh season of one of American’s favorite television shows, Coco was finally old enough to audition and eagerly headed off to Philadelphia, PA for her chance to make it big.
The audition was not at all what she expected, but after researching the process, she felt was prepared. Before the final audition with the judges, she needed to go through three other auditions with producers and executives. “I was nervous through that,” she said, “But by the time we got to the final audition, I was ready to go.”
Singing The Pussy Cat Dolls’ “Sway,” Coco moved on to “Hollywood week” where her dreams would be shattered.
“I was kind of angry in a way,” said Coco. “I didn’t think it was a fair elimination.” She went on to explain that she was given a keyboard piano instead of a sustained pedal piano that she was used to playing, this had a tremendous effect on her performance. Despite the disappointment of Hollywood, good fortune, was right around the corner.
After returning home, Coco received a message on MySpace from Matt Merritt, 25, a guitarist from Spencerport who not only saw her on the show but saw her as a potential lead singer. “With Matt’s songs and the band’s sound, I was really inspired,” said Coco,
“Matt and I just clicked.”
Joining forces with Joel Vickers, saxophonist from Gates, and Levi Bennett, a drummer from Rochester, they began performing around local venues, creating a fan base and making a name for themselves.
“We don’t consider ourselves a certain genre,” said Coco. “We think of ourselves as ‘acoustic pop.’ ” She explained how their band ‘Tinted Image’ is different than other bands because of certain instruments they use and combine. “We mix the cello with a pop melody,” she said. “It’s not ordinary.” They collaborated and developed a CD titled EP Blueprints in 2009.
After performing at their CD release show at Water Street Music Hall, Coco was on her way to fulfilling her dream. “Rochester has been really great for us,” said Coco. “People have been so supportive.”
Since then the band has shrunken in size. “Matt and I are the band, “said Coco “We hire out instrumentalists if we need them.”
While they do play in New York City every other weekend, the duo still plays here in the area and can be seen at local places such as Woodcliff’s Horizons Restaurant and Bistro 135. “We like to keep steady gigs for home,” said Coco. “We mainly go to New York City to play for productions.”
Tinted Image’s goal at the moment is to stay focused on getting their music established and recognized on television shows. Now that they are licensed by Video Hits One (VH1), Music Television (MTV) and in the midst of talking to Indie Record Labels, they are well on their way.
With all the luck that has been on Coco’s side, she has certainly had to take the bad with the good. By adding her ambition, she has not only become one of Rochester’s inspirations but has found the ultimate recipe for success.