When Erika Van Pelt released her debut album “My Independence” in the fall of 2013, it began the first chapter of her solo career. Drawing influence from a myriad of different artists, Van Pelt created a record that breaks down boundaries, allowing her to express her deep appreciation of soul, rock, blues, funk, pop, indie, and even hip-hop. When Erika was only 7, she began her singing career like many others, in a church choir. She became very comfortable singing in front of large audiences and she quickly nurtured her connection to the music. Her love of singing continued to grow through her teenage years, and she disciplined herself in jazz, contemporary, and classical voice.
Erika’s musical versatility shown through at an early stage in her career, earning her first place at state level music festivals all 4 years of high school. She also received recognition at the regional and national level for her involvement in chorale. When she turned 17, Erika earned the Judge’s Choice Award at the Berklee Jazz Festival in Boston, MA, encouraging her to attend the following year. She studied both Production & Engineering, and Vocal Performance. In 2003, she launched Van Pelt Entertainment, a full service mobile DJ service, which has recently expanded to house several bands, Erika’s independent record label EVP Records, and even a publishing company. In 2011, Erika’s ambition led her to the Pittsburgh auditions for the eleventh season of American Idol, making it all the way to Top 10. She has been called one of the season’s “most underrated” contestants, and her talent and passion were highlighted on the season’s international American Idols LIVE! Tour 2012.
Erika performed many songs, but her triumphant moment, a “not to be missed standout” (Hollywood Reporter) was her cover of P!nk’s “Glitter In the Air”. Her rendition was so well received that she produced her own arrangement of the song on her debut album, dedicating the cover to her Idol journey. In September of 2013, Erika launched her first-ever crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter, successfully raising over $20,000 to help finish recording her album. The debut album, which includes her first single “Listen Learn Then Delete” is quite the journey from start to finish. LLTD makes a strong statement, breaking the ice and proving that she is a truly multi-faceted artist, showing her gutsy, punchy pop vocal. Her upper register soars on moving ballads like “Hurricane” and “Walk Through the Storm”. Erika also shows us her appreciation for EDM and the dance movement on tracks like “I Want More” and “I Choose You-Remix”. The title track of the album, “My Independence” showcases Van Pelt’s gravely rock vocals, with a bit of a country twist. She lightens up, flashing her bright pop vocal on “I Choose You” blaring powerful horns and a catchy Bruno Mars-esque vibe. Erika then returns to her soul roots with “Making A Stand”, a song she wrote about her return to the real world after “Idol”. The album ends on a quiet heartfelt note, with a tune that Erika wrote and produced herself, called “Undone”, proving that her skills as a songwriter have also matured. Since then, her original songs have been featured on TV shows such as “Dance Moms” and “Inside Amy Schumer”, and she continues to write and record original music. In 2015, she helped found the award- winning band The Soul Estate, which is a harmonydriven, high energy, 9-piece dance band out of Boston. She performs frequently with her acoustic duo Vagabond Blues, and currently resides on the South Shore of Boston.