While being born on the Fourth of July didn’t make Alley start crooning “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as a baby, it wasn’t long before she felt the tug of music. In fact, as a very young child she tagged along as her mother went to piano lessons. She was immediately transfixed. “I found it all very zen,” Alley recalls. “I probably looked like I was in a trance.”
The teacher noticed, gave young Alley a beginner book and provioded a few pointers during her mother’s lessons. Music was always playing at home, too, whether it was the Grateful Dead, Laura Nyro or Carole King. “My dad and I would go on long drives and just listen to music, and I would sing the whole time — the whole time,” Alley says with a laugh. “He’d just drive and not say anything ... It’s funny now that I think of it. It was all singer stuff. A lot of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, with a healthy side serving of country with LeAnn Rimes, Dixie Chicks and Jo Dee Messina.”
Then came Alley what calls “The three J’s” — Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Joni Mitchell. “I'd listen to any style as long as it had a real voice,” she says. “If I could connect to the singer, I'd listen to anything.”
The real epiphany came at 12 when she met local singer and instructor Sandi Bedrosian-Hyde, who became not only her teacher but her friend and mentor. Sandi would take Alley to her gigs and let her sing a song. “I think I was at her house more than mine for awhile,” Alley recalls.
Sandi encouraged her to learn guitar and the normally shy Alley says it gave her the desire and confidence perform — something that started in, of all places, the girls’ restroom in high school. Her best friend knew it was a good way to ease Alley’s shyness. “She would force me to sing in the bathroom!” Alley says. “Anybody who came in, she would say, 'You have to sing! ... You gotta hear Stoetzel sing!’”"
It all worked. These experiences and the sheer joy Alley discovered in singing steered her toward renowned Berklee School of Music, where she majored in vocal performance. While still at Berklee, she began performing in blues and soul bands, which ultimately led to her well recieved first recording "Public Alley 421" as “Soul Alley,” a band that performed largely covers of classic soul, including songs popularized by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and Tina Turner.
When, for the first time, she was taken under the wing of a manager — Nate Dow of Lunar Notes Music, who was struck by the Alison Krauss-like quality of her voice — Alley followed his advice to accentuate that high lonesome sound and start re-exploring folk and roots music.
The results have been nothing short of extraordinary. Within a month of being introduced to members of her new band, Alley was in the recording studio, earning the plaudits of those world-class players, Jimmy Ryan, Duke Levine and David Westner. Within a week of that EP’s release, she was making her debut on the stage of Club Passim, the historic Harvard Square music room whose stage was once graced by personal heroes Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.
As an artist who is very musically talented, she can pick up many instruments — whether it's piano, guitar, mandolin, or even bass — all with the intention of using it to accompany her incredible voice. The evolution has been so natural and so rapid that Alley Stoetzel is rightly exploding on to the Americana scene with an evident passion and a glorious voice that promise to carry her a long way.