East Lansing supports homegrown artist

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After a year filled with trips to and from Washington, D.C., balancing schoolwork and attempting to find time for a social life, 16-year-old Ajah Montalvo is finally showing the world what she has been up to.

Montalvo is a junior at East Lansing High School, and has just released the first single off her debut, extended play record. The song is “DMT”, and the music video, which already has more than 3,000 views on YouTube, features fellow ELHS students dancing and singing to the catchy tune.

By age 2, Montalvo, sitting in her car seat in the back of the car, was humming along to songs. At 9, Montalvo found a passion for performing. Despite being nervous her first time on stage, she managed to perform for a crowd of thousands of people.

“As I was standing up on the steps, I told myself that I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life,” Montalvo said.  “That was what pushed me to go out on the stage.”

The East Lansing community supports Montalvo. East Lansing mother Erin Graham said her daughter loves the song. After the formal dance at the high school, Graham’s daughter and other teenagers were jamming to “DMT” at after parties.

Montalvo is still debating when to release the next song off her EP, but is excited for everyone to hear it.

Not only are her friends rallying around her, but she describes her principal, Andrew Wells, as one of her biggest supporters and fans. He even helped announce the release date of her song.

“Pay attention, it is going to be an awesome hit,” said Wells in an Instagram video. “We look forward to great things from Ajah. She is on her way.”

Montalvo has also stolen the attention of others around the area. Karen Hoene, an ELHS mother, as well as an East Lansing school board member, recognized Montalvo  at a board meeting for her accomplishments.  

“That girl can sing some Etta James like you would not believe,” Hoene said. “She’s got blues and old-school too. She’s amazing.”

Montalvo will show off her theatrical side for the first time by starring in ELHS’s spring musical, “High School Musical,” March 16 through 25. She landed the leading role of Gabriella Montez and is counting down the days until opening night.

Performing may be a large part of Montalvo’s life, however she has hobbies outside of music. She plays for the ELHS lacrosse and volleyball teams year round and is described as being a dedicated student.  

Montalvo does not see herself running out of steam anytime soon.

“In five years I would love to have an established album out, be performing anywhere that I possibly can, going globally all around the world to grab any opportunity that I can, be an established artist, and for sure the Grammys.”

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