Amanda Somerville biography
Amanda Somerville was born in Flushing, Michigan (March 7th, 1979), she studied psychology at University of Michigan. She started in music as "singer-songwriter" playing a combination of folk, pop, rock also jazz and blues. She grew up in a musical family. Her father is a folk guitarist and also singer-songwriter and her mother sings and plays flute and saxophone. She also has many relatives in her family that are musicians and she did a lot of jam sessions at family together since very early.
First contacts with Metal music
Amanda moved to Wolfsburg, Germany in 1999. And she starting music with the piano and vocals. Sometimes with smaller bands with include bass and drums. She won a small competition and was flown to Santiago, were many people wanted to hear music from her but she had not CD released at that time. So it was the right moment to move on and record some music.
In 2000 her former bass player told to her that his ex-brother in law was Sascha Paeth (Heaven's Gate, Aina, Avantasia) and he has an own studio where they can record it. Sascha remixed a song for her and he also ended up mixing an EP, the "Blue Nothing" EP. Sascha liked her music, her voice and that she was a native English speaker so Sascha asked to her: "I'm just doing a project with a friend of mine. His name is Andre Matos from Brazil. We are doing a project called Virgo, do you want to sing something there?" and she agreed. After this collaboration she was asked to help a new band: Epica, and later After Forever where she met Sander Gommans. Amanda commented about this: "I was asked to help a new band...called Nemesis...then I was told they renamed to Sahara's Dust and when I meet them in the studio, the record label boss told me, the female singer of this band doesn't sing very well, because she is very young and inexperienced. Are you interested in singing the whole cd, Amanda? I listened to the music and said to myself, this is not my style of music. But I agreed in helping this girl and writing the songs together with the band. Then I meet them and there was sitting a very shy 18 years old girl and later their bass player came to me and said, we like very much Kamelot. We liked their record very much and we renamed to Epica now." Since this moment she joined in the "Sascha's team" which also include Michael "Miro" Rodenberg, Robert Hunecke-Rizzo, Thomas Rettke... and she started to make regular collaborations with metal bands like After Forever, Edguy, Rhapsody, Kamelot, Epica, Avantasia...
In 2001 Sascha contacted her, because Hans van Vuuren ower of Dutch label Transmission Records wanted to have their Metal Opera after the sucess of Tobias Sammet's Avantasia. She was requested for being the writter of the full history. Amanda commented about this: "Sascha called me and said, there is a guy from the Netherlands and he wants to do a metal opera. Would you be interested in writing this together with me? I just looked at my mobile phone and wondered metal opera? I didn't know anything about metal at that time...I was just a singer/songwriter...I just knew Tori Amos and Paul Simon. I just grew up this way and my father is a folk singer/songwriter...my mother is more from the jazz genre. My grant uncle played for Sammi Davies Jr. Then someone arrives and asks me for a European Symphonic Metal project.....But I just said, yes, sure...then Sascha told me there is Glenn Hughes, Stevens, Jens Johannson and Michael Kiske. I said then, yes great, but I thought, who are these guys???" In the following time she rent a lot of metal CD's from Sascha to check what kind of stuff was part of this genre because like she said: "I was totally blind when I entered this scene."
Amanda was working during 18 months writing the story, then she sent it to the label boss for his approval and she commented about that: "Once I'd started writing the story I sent it to Hans for approval, and he thought it was great but he said that he and his wife could really tell that a woman had written it. I was like, 'What the fuck is that supposed to mean? You want metal, fine, I'll give you metal...' and I wrote 'The Siege Of Aina' with lyrics about 'ripping through the maidens' and other gory things (laughs). I was like, 'Ha! How's that for a girl?" Amanda checked other metal operas and she found others made an excessive use of Latin language to create the atmosphere and she prefered to invent her own language to enhance of Aina's history. Amanda commented: "Using Latin gives the music an ethereal and mystical feel, but I think it's so boring that everyone use it so I decided that I'll make up my own language. Sascha and Robert totally doubted that we'd be able to get the boys choir to pull it off because they couldn't pronounce the Ainae languague (laughs) but the kids in the choir were great." With the history/lyrics written she emailed to Robert with descriptions, how she pictured the mood of the song, the movements of the music and the other guys started to write and arrange songs.
There is also the anecdote that when Michael was going to record the vocals of 'Silver Maiden', he listened to the demo that Sascha sent to him with Amanda Somerville and Michael told to Sascha that he didn't want to record it, because the version of Amanda was perfect and he could not improve it, but Sascha told him that the label wanted him. He first recorded the two symphonic tracks 'Silver Maiden', 'Serendipity' and the few lines in the other two songs: 'Revelations' and 'Restoration' and he left 'Flight Of Torek' for the end, but he got a cold and for time schedule Sascha could not wait until he recovered so he asked Tobias Sammet for that song.
Amanda commented to Kiske fanclub in 2004 that she had ready the history for the second part but never happened because the label was in bankruptcy. "Actually i've written the story for the second part but i don't know if will be Aina part 3, but yeah i have written the story for Aina 2."
In 2008, Amanda toured America with Dutch band Epica while regular vocalist Simone Simons recovered from a staph infection. Also in 2008 she was in the first tour of Avantasia. She released the solo album "Windows" in 2009 and also released the first album with his project with Sander Gommans HDK, titled "System Overload".
In early 2009, Serafino Perugino (Frontiers Records owner) contacted with Michael Kiske to know if he would be interested in a whole album of duets with a female singer. Kiske said he would do obviously if he would like the songs so Serafino contacted with Mat Sinner who was the person charged to develop the project. Mat Sinner started to work and compose music with Magnus Karlsson and Jimmy Kresic. Serafino wanted a famous vocalist to sing in this project Simone Simons, but it didn't work because the other guys in the band didn't want her making projects in that moment. So it was the turn of Amanda who accepted.
Amanda asked to Mat if she could write a few songs and he said yes, so she started to work together with Sander Gommans at his Eternia studio, they composed four songs and three ended in the album. When Mat, Magnus, Jimmy, Amanda and Sander finished the composition process Mat and Kiske picked 12 songs to record. Mat said: "I wrote 14 tracks together with Magnus Karlsson for this project and four songs in the more orchestral and epic direction with Jimmy Kresic. Then Amanda and Sander Gommans wrote three more songs with a little different vibe and these songs gave a little extra to the overall concept. Finally Michael and me chose 12 songs to record". One month before releasing the full-lenght album, the label Frontiers Records decided to make a digital release, it was Silence EP which was supported with the videoclip for this song. The album was very well received and some people started to request a tour or at least a few dates but in that moment Unisonic was starting to work. During the footage the 'If I Had A Wish' and 'Silence' videoclip she met Kiske and they became friends. They also did a small promotional tour in France to make some interviews together.
In 2010, Amanda was touring again with Avantasia and one year later she released the first album of another project Trillium, that project is formed by "Sascha team" and Sander Gommans.
In 2013 after touring with Rock Meets Classic of Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner, Kiske/Somerville) she did another tour with Avantasia and also started to work in the 2nd Kiske/Somerville album.
Amanda Somerville about Kiske
Amanda Somerville to Femme Metal webzine: "I really love Michi, he’s a great guy, he is a great musician, he’s a lot of fun to tour with, he’s quite a young soul, I mean that, he’s just kind of got this childlike enthusiasm and silliness about him so.. He’s very down to earth and he’s a good friend, he’s been there when I’ve needed him and on the stage and off the stage so I’m really looking forward to working with him again doing this, and hopefully doing some live stuff as well."
Amanda about Kiske:"He is a very down-to-earth kind of person. He is also a very spiritual person. We had a lot of great conversations during the Avantasia tour. He is a very deep thinking person. He is also not without a reason called a voice legend. It is really very original what he is doing vocal wise and you always recognize his voice. But many try to imitate him and he is an idol for many people. I heard again and again that many tried to sing like Kiske."