Amador Valley High alumna Lauryn Marie still remembers her first time writing a song.
Marie was only 11 at the time, but she had been playing piano ever since she first started taking lessons in the second grade.
"I realized that I could play on the piano what I was hearing in my head and I was like, 'Oh, I can make this into a song,'" she said. "The lyrics didn't really make any sense but I remember being so excited about it. I had like a little MP3 recorder and I recorded it and brought it to the playground the next day to show my friends."
After that she continued writing and producing songs throughout her time at Harvest Park Middle School and started posting them to the internet -- she then started posting videos on YouTube her freshman year at Amador.
"I really love telling stories," she said. "When I was younger, I wanted to be an author and then I realized that I could put stories into songs and combine the two things I loved most, which is music and storytelling."
During that time she also joined Pleasanton's High School Music Collaborative and through that worked in a range of musical programs at the Firehouse Arts Center.
"It's been so cool to see people tell me that they relate or that they feel less alone because they've heard a song of mine, and that they feel seen," Marie said. "I think that that's why I write songs, because I want people to know that other people feel the same way that they do and it's OK."
Now the aspiring indie-rock musician and Belmont University student will be returning home to Pleasanton to perform at the Firehouse next Friday -- a concert that she said means a lot to her given how important the center was in her career.
"It's really a cool, full-circle moment to get to play my own show there because it was a really instrumental part of my growing up, I think, as a musician and just as a person because everybody there was just so great," Marie said.
She said that as a child who had to move around a lot while growing up, the Firehouse helped make Pleasanton feel the most like a home ever since she first moved to the city in 2016.
"The Firehouse is really what made it my hometown," Marie said. "Joining the High School Music Collaborative and meeting everybody there just really made it feel like home because everyone there is just so encouraging."
During her time at Amador, she also made herself known locally as the songstress who wrote "Our Home," a song about Pleasanton that she performed as the city celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2019.
Then the following year she decided to take part in the Firehouse's weekly livestreamed performances: Pleasanton LIVE! The series started during the pandemic in order to entertain audiences as they sheltered in place those first few weeks.
"Pleasanton LIVE! was a wonderful way to get to know artists on a deeper level, and I'm thrilled to now be in a place to book these same artists on our main presenting stage," Mark Duncanson, recreation supervisor for the city of Pleasanton, said in a press release this winter.
"One of many fantastic things about the Firehouse Arts Center being under the umbrella of the Library and Recreation Department is a focus on building community," he added. "It's wonderful to be able to feature PUSD graduates and build community by presenting artists that current PUSD faculty and students can experience live on stage."
Marie didn't stop there either.
As a second-year student at Belmont in Nashville who is majoring in songwriting and minoring in music business, Marie had to enter a songwriting contest for one of her class assignments last year.
She had entered into the American Songwriter magazine contest in past years and received an honorable mention, so she decided to apply for the same contest in 2021 for her class.
"I completely forgot that I had submitted (a song) and then I got a call on my last day in Nashville for the semester telling me that I'd won," Marie said. "It was really incredible to get that kind of recognition from a publication that I admire so much."
She said that through that contest, she was able to get her song "Walk" some radio play time and was even able to talk to somebody from Atlantic Records who gave her advice on her career.
Once she's done with the show in Pleasanton, Marie said that her next stops include performing at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, which is where famous singer-songwriter Taylor Swift was discovered.
In the summer, she will also be traveling to London to play a show, which to her is "a dream come true" given that it is her favorite city in the world.
But as her career begins to take off, Marie said that she is still learning about the many challenges of the music industry -- especially as a singer-songwriter who portrays vulnerability in a lot of her songs.
"There are a lot of stories I've heard of people trying to take advantage of people, and it's scary. But I really am grateful for the support system that I have and especially being at Belmont and taking music business classes and kind of learning how to protect myself has been really helpful," she said. "I love music so much that I want to do it and I'm gonna try and make it happen."
Marie will be performing at the Firehouse Arts Center this Friday (March 10) at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show can be purchased at www.firehousearts.org.