By C. Aileen Blaine
By day, Candace Campana works full time at Youngstown State University’s international programs office as a business operation specialist. By night, she pursues her true passion: all things music.
Campana began singing as early as she can remember. By the age of 3, she would toddle around while singing tunes. As she grew older, her mother would take Campana and her siblings to theater productions, which she found fascinating.
Music still has a powerful hold on her, and it always plays an important role in her life.
“Nothing else gives me that drive like music does. I could sing all day, every day and never get sick of it,” Campana said. “It’s just always been a major part of me.”
She dreams of touring with Carrie Underwood and collaborating with Korn’s Jonathan Davis, and she’s working to get there.
In 2012, she decided to expand her musical capabilities, so she picked up the acoustic guitar. Influenced by Kirk Hammett from the rock band Metallica, she then decided to pursue electric guitar.
“I really love Kirk from Metallica and how he just shreds, and I wanted to do that,” she said.
Now, she takes music and tap dance lessons several evenings a week and plays violin, mandolin and drums in addition to guitar and her vocals.
The Struthers native recently released her newest single, titled “Goody Two-Shoes Girl,” on several music streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify. She already has another project in the works to release in early July. Campana is excited about it.
“The song I’m working on in the studio is a little different from the ones I’ve recorded and released in the past,” she said. “So, I’m really excited about that.”
Many of her songs fall into the country genre, but beyond the country-girl persona lies something perhaps a little surprising: she considers herself a metalhead.
“I love country fairs — I love being outside. I love showing animals [and] I love being with animals. So, country fits me, but I listen to heavy metal,” she said. “I love Korn, I love Ghost … Alice in Chains, stuff like that.”
She doesn’t just enjoy the sound of chugging guitars, rattling drums and the occasional bagpipe dirge. She also appreciates the complexity behind the lyrics and their deeper meanings.
“Metal, it’s way more acceptable to talk about darker things like depression — things like that I can relate to,” she said.
Campana also has several notable performances under her belt. Earlier this month, she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the opening of a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, and she’s also done so for Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears football games.
One of her favorite memories is her first NFL opening performance for the Chicago Bears, the team her late grandfather played for in the 1950s.
“It was packed — there wasn’t a seat left — and when I finished singing, the audience just roared,” she said. “When I walked back to my seat, everybody I walked by stood back up and clapped. I was like, ‘Oh, this is so awesome. This is what Carrie Underwood must feel like.’”
It hasn’t been easy to get herself out there, but with help from her biggest fans and supporters — her family — she’s been able to find the secret to success without compromising her personal standards.
“There’s so many people who just say no, and if they kind of say yes, you just don’t know why they’re saying yes,” she said. “I have a lot of self respect, and I have a lot of morals. I’m not going to change who I am to get where I want to go.”
Even though her journey hasn’t always been smooth, she encourages others to pursue their goals.
“Persistence is key,” Campana said. “Do not ever take no for an answer, and don’t let those sleazy situations stop you from pursuing the golden ones because when you get that yes, it’s going to be so worth it.”
Her music is available on Spotify, Apple Music, ReverbNation and YouTube. Follow her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages for more.