Magic, light and all things stardust are what many people describe AnaBelle Elliott, a journalism junior at Texas State University. Elliott is making her voice be heard not just through her writings, poetry and life and arts articles with the University Star, but from her original songs that come from the heart.
When she was only 10 years old, Elliott had a realization that writing lyrics and creating melodies was another freedom of expression. She did community theater throughout her life but never connected with the acting aspect of theater. It was always music she connected with.
“As soon as I realized my own autonomy that I have to create words, tickle a piano and then incorporate that into words, I have never stopped,” Elliott said.
In 2019, Elliott began to release music under the stage name Lyana Skye after her manager at the time suggested the name change. Although she liked the music she was making, her manager at the time was distant yet financially driven through the start of her music career. She also wasn’t happy with releasing her music under anything other than her name.
“It was never a choice I fully made for myself,” Elliott said. “He [the manager] took a lot of money and did not fulfill his promises. So after I left him, I decided to reintroduce myself.”
Elliott left the manager and Lyana Skye behind and in 2022 released her first single, “Goodnight”, under her name AnaBelle E.. She said it was a big moment for her now that she could call her music hers and hers only.
“I decided this is my music, I’ve made it, this is me and this is my name,” Elliott said. “I feel like it helped me to be able to accept myself as an artist.”
Elliott was inspired to write “Goodnight” after having trouble falling asleep during a road trip. She wished the people, places, thoughts and feelings a restful slumber as she tried to get some rest herself.
It was the first time the singer-songwriter got to share her story with listeners, which made the artist feel both empowered and vulnerable at the same time. However, she said she sees vulnerability as a good thing and that it plays a crucial part in any song.
“The message in any song that I put out has definitely some soft spots, some vulnerability,” Elliott said. “It’s worth being vulnerable, because that creates some kind of connection.”
Jengo Russell, Elliott’s partner, remembered the moment he heard “Goodnight” and described the single as something he’s never heard before. With the blend of vintage pop and soulful lyrics, Russell said it was almost like he was in a captivating trance.
“Everything was just so meticulously placed perfectly,” Russell said. “And it just brought on this wave of serenity, I’d say.”
Elliott has made her presence known in the music scene in San Marcos, attending jam sessions and performing gigs in local venues. Sammy Wells, history senior and member of the local San Marcos band The Trips, has Elliott occasionally open for some of The Trips gigs, where she covers the Beatles songs and performs a couple of her originals. From the sheets of lyrics to the organization of her songs, Wells said he can tell how important the message is behind Elliott’s music.
“I’m more of a melodic individual. I think more about melodies and chord changes,” Wells said. “She’s got some very important messages in her songs and I think that’s very admirable.”
“Timeless”, Elliott’s most recent single, is a Lyana Skye re-release. This time under her name. “Timeless” tells the story of being still for a moment, taking time to enjoy the calm and knowing that there’s a comfort in the natural phenomena that occur every day.
Both of Elliott’s singles reference the sky, the moon and the stars, something that is very special to her. She said the sky has been a motif throughout her life and has helped her through tough times. She is even looking forward to obtaining her private pilot’s license, her gaze always towards the vast openness and calmness of the sky.
“The fact that the sun rises and then a few hours after that it sets, it kind of shows us there is some sort of consistency,” Elliott said. “There are bigger things that we can rest in.”
Chambie Elliott, Elliott’s little sister, said these strong messages that are present in Elliott’s songs come from a place of hardship. She has witnessed when inspiration has struck for her sister, and it’s at these moments Elliott puts pen to paper and writes.
“If she is frustrated by something or having a hard time, she writes,” Elliott said. “She uses every disadvantage as an advantage to her art.”
Elliott also has seen at times that when something misogynistic or unfair happens to her older sister, she will use that frustration as a spark of inspiration. This unfair and misogynistic treatment has been present in not just Elliott’s life, but many women singers, songwriters and producers who are part of the music industry.
According to the 2023 University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative report, women in the music industry have been turning up in numbers, unlike any previous years, rising from 28.7% to 30% representation on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 chart in 2022. However, on those same charts, only 14% of songwriters and only 3.4% of producers were women.
Elliott recognized that there is much more that needs to be done to better represent women in the music industry and the pressures of being a woman in the industry. She said any little mistake she makes feels like one step in the wrong direction for women musicians. However, Elliott has learned to lean into those mistakes and treat everyone with respect for their work, because in the end it comes down to being human and treating others equally.
“I feel like the responsibility does come back to women, to support each other and to not be afraid to make mistakes,” Elliott said. “I’m here. I’m showing up. And I deserve to be here.”