Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs' own Amber Voiland is powerful in front of a piano. Playing on the Depot's piano earlier this week, her fingers caressed the keys while she spun her honest, personal tales with a strong voice -- a voice that demands to be listened to.
This is a big week for Voiland: The release party for her first compact disc, "Hiding Place," will be Jan. 18 at the Depot, and she will open for Big Head Todd and the Monsters when the band plays in Steamboat Jan. 17.
Voiland sings songs of personal tragedy, love and the realities of life. They are mostly optimistic, because, as she admitted, most of her music urges people to look at the bright side and to deal with the past and then leave it.
"I like to challenge people," she admitted when describing her writing.
Voiland's deep, soulful songs come out like a load off her shoulders, making it obvious that she has a lot on her mind, especially for a 21-year-old.
But Voiland isn't a typical 21-year-old woman. The Steamboat near-native (she's lived here since fourth grade) admitted she never really fit in. She's had some personal challenges in her life, and while she won't talk about those issues too extensively, they are what she draws from in her music.
"Writing music to me is a huge, huge release. It's kept me sane," she said. "This portraying of emotions and thoughts through music and lyrics is a gift, and I just want to take advantage of that."
Today, she has about 60 songs that are all her own, 13 of which are on "Hiding Place," her debut CD, produced by Seed House Music. The release party starts at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Depot.
Being invited to open for Big Head Todd and the Monsters later in the week is an honor Voiland sees as a milestone in her career.
"It's just so crazy," she said of the recent events in her career. "I've been busting my butt to get this all taken care of."
In February, Voiland will leave Steamboat Springs for Austin, Texas, with hopes of advancing her music career there. She is going with no illusions. Armed with her new CD and a massage-therapy degree, her goal is just to be heard, not to be famous. No matter what, she said her music is what will always come first.
Voiland has found that people deeply relate to her honest songs, and that itself is the gift she would like to share.
"I want exposure. I just want to be able to touch people with my music," she said.
Tori Amos is the first person Voiland names as a musical inspiration. It's Amos' music and approach in the business that impresses Voiland.
"She is in total control of her lifestyle and who she is," she said.
Voiland dreams of touring on her music talent, but right now she is just ready to take on life.
"The more I go through, the more I say just bring it on," she said.