By Arthur Cusano
Hailey Knox may not yet be a household name, but the Putnam County teen has already made a name for herself online, where her performances have been viewed by tens of thousands of people.
The 17-year-old Carmel resident has accumulated over 7,600 subscribers to her YouTube channel, where she has posted covers of songs by Adele, the Weeknd and even Justin Bieber. Some of the videos have been viewed over 50,000 times.
The aspiring pop star will soon have a chance to expand that fan base exponentially. Knox just signed a recording deal with S-Curve, a recording label best known for being the home of top 40 charting artists Joss Stone and Andy Grammer, as well as a former home of iconic artists Tom Jones and Duran Duran.
For the past week Knox has been in a Chelsea recording studio with her mother Jamie recording songs for a planned EP with producers Michael Mangini, who worked with Joss Stone, and Peter Zizzo, who has worked with Avril Lavigne.
“I’m going to be playing the guitar for the album, they’re not hiring someone else, Knox said during a break. “So I really need to get these songs down as precisely as possible.”
The long hours have forced her to leave her classmates at Carmel High School, where she was a senior.
“I’ve been missing too much school going to the city, so I decided to switch over to doing online school,” Knox said. “So I had to say goodbye to all my friends this past Wednesday.”
Knox started playing guitar at eight-years-old under the tutelage of her father, and said that Dave Matthews Band and Ingrid Michaelson were early influences. Knox made her debut at the third grade talent show at Matthew Patterson Elementary School, where staff waived entrance requirements to allow her to perform after hearing her play.
“I remember my second grade teacher, Mr. (Michael) Donovan, pushed me to do the talent show because I was really nervous,” she said.
Knox also credited former MPES kindergarten teacher Barbara Demetriow with encouraging her talents, as well as Carmel High School choir teacher Bryan Lynch.
Knox later started performing at area venues, including weekly shows at the Town Crier Café in Pawling, and still occasionally performs at the Crier at its new location in Beacon.
“That really helped me with my stage presence, performing live there,” Knox recalled.
Knox’s mother Jamie started posting videos on Facebook as a duo with her younger sister Samantha, who played drums.
“I would play my guitar and we would sing and harmonize, it was cool,” she said.
Knox said she found her sound when she started using a loop pedal, something used to great effect by British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran. The use of a loop pedals also helped get the attention of producers, who she has worked with for several years developing her sound.
“It allows you to import your mic and guitar into the pedal, and create a track just by hitting the pedal,” Knox said. “It loops over and you’re harmonizing with yourself. You’re a one-man band, in a way. I can loop my vocals to make it sound like I have backup singers”
Knox has also enjoyed performing on YouNow, a live broadcasting website that allows her to performs in front of a global crowd.
“I can go on wherever, whenever and anyone around the world can watch me, which is amazing. I’ve built up a 46,000 fans on there,” she said. “People comment and request songs and I can play a song for them. Especially now that I’m performing my original stuff, it’s cool to see that people really like it. I got huge applause the other night when I did original songs.”
Knox recently spoke on a panel with other online live broadcasters on the TV of Tomorrow Show, and was also featured on VH1’s The 20, a show that highlights both major label talent and up and coming online performers. Three weeks ago she played a show at Rockwood Music Hall in New York, where she performed in front of head of S-Curve studios Steve Greenberg for the first time.
“He had never seen me perform in front of a large audience. He signed me before he saw me up on an actual stage, which is kind of crazy. It was kind of nerve wracking but exciting at the same time.”
Knox said hasn’t been playing shows lately due to recording, but said she hoped to line up a series of monthly shows soon.
When asked what her original songs sound like, Knox said she and her producers are going for a soul-pop vibe with modern feel.
“I have kind of a soulful voice, so we’re gonna try to incorporate that in there,” she said.
In addition to Ed Sheeran, Knox said former Youtube sensation Tori Kelly was an inspiration, as well as country legends Bobbie Gentry and Donny Hathaway.
When asked who she’s like to work with, she had two names on the top of her list.
“Ed Sheeran would be incredible, and of course Bieber,” she said.