While those coming out to Wolf Trap on Aug. 13 may be there to see headliners Lifehouse and Switchfoot, odds are that they’re going to be quickly impressed with the opening act, Brynn Elliott, an Atlanta-born singer, songwriter, and musician who has quickly made a name for herself in the music industry.
“I’ll be doing a 30-minute set and you’ll see a mix of some rocky tunes and poppy tunes and those that are a mixture of those genres,” Elliott says. “My motto for this tour is to learn from these two bands who have been around for a while. Each band has an incredible way of engaging with the crowd and I’m just trying to soak up all I can.”
Over the last few years, she has opened for Brandi Carlile, Alanis Morissette, Grace Potter, Parachute, and O.A.R., picking up more and more fans along the way.
She loves playing live and winning over new fans. The secret to capturing their attention, she says, is to play the songs and really love what you’re doing.
“When I play live, I feel really connected to my lyrics. The songs have more meaning to me each night,” Elliott says. “I just love all the things you can experience being a musician. The most important thing is being able to engage with new people.”
When not singing, Elliott can be found on the campus of Harvard University, where she is studying philosophy, mixing classes like “Faith and Authenticity: Existentialism and the Human Condition” with her songwriting.
“Every song I’ve written has some kind of connection to something I’m experiencing at school, though it might not be something academic,” Elliott says. “Harvard has been a great experience for my songwriting, I think it’s pushed me to write about other things and it’s also pushed me to put myself out there and be open to new experiences.”
Even with her studies, she still finds time to play about 70 or so shows a year.
“I didn’t plan on being a touring musician, it just sort of randomly happened,” she says. “I had written all these songs in high school and I toured on the songs, but I wanted to keep going in college because academics has always been a source of inspiration for me.”
As she balances the life of independent pop star and college student, Elliott plans to release a series of singles this year, which she has been working on with songwriter-producer Nathan Chapman.
“The first session I had with Nathan, he said, ‘Your songs are really great, but they’re very deep and philosophical,’” Elliott says. “He was like, ‘How would you feel about just writing a simple pop song?’ And I explained that I’m totally fine with it, but I want there to be some kind of substantive message that is relatable to people.’”
Elliott had just broken up with her boyfriend, and that led to her single, “Might Not Like Me,” which has become her most popular song to date.
Once school ends, Elliott plans to pursue music full-time.
“I’m going to continue to play music and write songs and see what happens,” she says. “My goal is to have a full-length album but I’m still finding myself as an artist, but once I have enough songs, I’ll definitely be doing that.”
After her set at Wolf Trap, Elliott will be at the merchandise booth to meet fans and sign autographs and she looks forward to connecting with people.
For more on Elliott, visit brynnelliott.com and check out her out on Twitter at @Brynn_Music.