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The muse of Izzi Hughes

Izzi Hughes, a freshman at Hendersonville High School, won the Acoustic Throw Down Izzi Hughes, a freshman at Hendersonville High School, won the Acoustic Throw Down

Izzi Hughes was way younger than the other contestants in Wild Wing Café's annual Acoustic Throw Down competition. Yet at age 15, she had a lot of performing under her belt.

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A guitar player and singer, Izzi had appeared in YouTheatre performances at the Flat Rock Playhouse. Her music started to expand when she joined Jim Beaver's School of Music in Hendersonville. Beaver, who became an important mentor, urged Izzi to join one of the school's rock bands.
With Izzi on lead vocals, Calculated Error has played gigs at the North Carolina Apple Festival, the Seventh Avenue Bazaar, Black Bear Coffee Shop and other stages. A year ago, Izzi began writing her own music.
When she decided to enter the restaurant's Acoustic Throw Down contest, she had to squeeze performances into the already busy schedule of a freshman taking all honors courses at Hendersonville High School.
Her mom, Christi, described the frenzied schedule the last night of the competition.
"She had just completed a full day at school plus three hours of driver's ed," she said. "The minute she got home she threw on her dress and I did her make-up and hair and we were out the door."
Izzi didn't perform until 11. At midnight the judges would announce the winner.

Izzi Hughes


Age: 15

Family: Parents Christi and Richard Hughes and sister, Carmen, 11.

School: Hendersonville High School

Music: Jim Beaver's School of Music

Upcoming gigs: March 27, with her band Calculated Error, Boys and Girls Club, 6:15; April 24, Calculated Error, opening for Fine Line at The Dugout; May 1, performing solo, opening for Hope Griffin, at Black Bear Coffee, 6 p.m.; May 12, Calculated Error performs at Wild Wing Café, 6:30; May 15, performing solo at the Relay for Life at Jackson Park, 9:30 p.m.

"It was all ages," Izzi said of the other performers in the Throw Down. "I was competing against people that were almost all professional musicians. They do it fulltime. I didn't think I was going to win it at all. I took a sip of water and ended up choking really badly when they called my name."
She won $500 cash and a $500 gift certificate at a music store. She also gets bookings at Wild Wing locations in Asheville, South Asheville, Knoxville.
"The next step is right now working up a bigger resume," she said. "Right now I'm just working up a repertoire of songs I can do for it and do some originals."

Melody inspires words

Izzi strums on the guitar until the muse comes.
"I'll find some chord and find some melody line that I really like and from there I just kind of build," she said. Words and music "come around the same time. The melody comes because that's what really inspires the words."
That inspiration ends up as a teenager's voice articulating a teenager's life.
Her original song "Straight Through" reflects a wisdom beyond her years.
"I actually wrote it about a year ago in eighth grade when I was going through a lot of social issues," she said. "I wrote it because of what I was feeling about what was going on, trying every way to get around it when actually what I was doing was making it harder."
Her epiphany — and the inspiration for the song — rose from the Robert Frost line that "the best way out is always through," she said. "My mom had a book of his poems and that one particular line always stood out to me. I see it on posters at school. It's almost like it follows me around."
She wrote the words:
Running, Jumping, Flying, Drowning
Up and down and left and right
When I didn't know what to do
I should have gone straight through
In January the family traveled to Nashville to record two of her original songs. They're on iTunes and Amazon.

'More to life than Instagram'

"It saddens me that the older generations consider my peers and me the 'Throwaway Generation,' or that they assume everyone my age is too engrossed in their mobile phones to care about their future," she wrote of her approach to music. "However, I'm also sick of the teenagers in my generation who prove them right. I write my music with the hope that I can show teens that life is more than Instagram. It's hard for our generation to be inspired to improve ourselves when the rest of the world has already given up on us. I refuse to accept that we are the "Throwaway Generation" and it is through my music that I want to motivate teens to ignore society's idiotic standards and show them that nothing is really that unrealistic."
Isabel Corinne Hughes — one is tempted to call her busy Izzi — has no time to rest. Putting voice to the challenges of growing up, she's going straight through.