By Marcus Brooks
Welcome to Add To Queue, a series where I do a deep dive into the most interesting artists on the rise you haven’t heard of.
Today’s artist is Lizzy Mcalpine, a 21-year old singer/songwriter who utilized social media to gain a large following over the past year. Her skillful, emotionally charged songwriting and stylistic guitar covers posted across TikTok and Instagram have not only grabbed the attention of fans, but also several established artists that have become her peers and friends.
Mcalpine is originally from Philadelphia, PA, where she took an interest in performing from a young age. In high school, she was a dedicated theatre and chorus kid, and a deep dive on her Twitter reveals tweets promoting original music and covers on Soundcloud all the way back in 2015 (that have unfortunately since been deleted).
In February of her senior year in 2018, Mcalpine released her first official project, an EP titled Indigo. At a brief 22 minutes, it’s a set of bright, emotional, piano/guitar-driven songs where Mcalpine flexes her songwriting skills, taking on the intricacies of love from several different angles.
After graduating high school, she began a BA in Songwriting at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Around the end of her first semester, Mcalpine started frequently posting original music to her Instagram. Her second year at Berklee took her to Spain, where she studied abroad and continued to write. Not only did many of the snippets she posted during her time in Valencia end up on her future album, but she also met/sang with popular Youtuber turned artist Dodie Clark (a foreshadow of future collaborations).
But as she moved back to Boston at the beginning of 2020, the world, and her life, changed drastically.
Mcalpine announced an album in February and kept working on it as the pandemic sent her home from college. She also began posting a healthy amount of covers while stuck at home (in addition to her originals) and eventually created a TikTok.
Her breakthrough came on June 24, 2020 when she posted a short original called “you ruined the 1975” about an ex who ruined her favorite band. The video blew up and, at the time of writing, has 8 million views and nearly 2 million likes on TikTok. With her album on the way, Mcalpine took advantage of the new eyes on her and continued to post on Instagram and TikTok while gradually dropping singles for the album.
Her covers even started to get attention from the artists themselves; the likes of Tori Kelly, Finneas, Daniel Caesar and Sara Bareilles all shared their appreciation for Mcalpine’s talent throughout the summer.
On August 13, Mcalpine released her debut album, Give Me A Minute. This album sees her reflect on the shortcomings of past relationships with biting lyrical specificity. A standout is “Over-the-Ocean Call”, one of the many songs on the album she wrote while abroad in Spain, about breaking up with her boyfriend at the time (who was still in Boston) from an ocean away.
Another great track is Pancakes for Dinner, one of the more quaint, upbeat songs from the album that has amassed nearly 10 million streams on Spotify. With the momentum from her album and recent social media growth in mind, Mcalpine dropped out of Berklee just before her junior year to fully commit to her music career.
In the past year since the release of her album, Mcalpine hasn’t slowed down for a second. She spent a few months living in London, where she posted videos singing with Dodie and Jacob Collier and fellow internet boosted up-and-comer Laufey. So far in 2021, she’s seemingly made a permanent move to LA and has been brushing shoulders with the likes of Adam Melchor and Ashe and new best friend Dove Cameron (they teased a potential collaboration back in June).
Mcalpine has also been hard at work on her second album and released her second EP, titled When The World Stopped Moving, largely made up of live, guitar-only takes of songs she had posted on Soundcloud or social media that never ended up being used.
It’s clear Mcalpine has carved out a space for herself in the music industry, and I can’t wait to watch her continue to grow.
Catch her on tour with Dodie in 2022 (coming to Austin March 10) and stream Indigo, Give Me A Minute, and When The World Stopped Moving on all streaming platforms.
Featured Image Courtesy of Lizzy Mcalpine.