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Woodlands high school senior, songwriter pursues musical passions

January 11, 2019

On a Thursday afternoon at his home in Alden Bridge, The Woodlands High School senior Peter McPoland grabs his acoustic guitar while wearing an 80’s-style green and purple neon windbreaker jacket, black jeans, glasses and tennis shoes that look intentionally distressed.

As he begins to sing an original song, his voice reverberates throughout his family’s game room turned practice room as if he was using a microphone.

“You really have to know what you want out of it, if it’s what you’re passionate about,” McPoland said about his dedication to make music.

Within the last year, the singer/songwriter folk musician has recorded and released two singles on various music-streaming platforms. On Spotify, his song “Lady Bird” is approaching 300,000 listens; as an artist, he has nearly 12,000 monthly listeners and his music has been played in 65 countries around the globe.

He’s also in the process of recording a third single, this time a duet, at Red Tree Recording Studio in Magnolia.

“I find myself enjoying time in theater and spending time with friends, but whenever I’m in the recording studio with this new song, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life,” McPoland said.

Like McPoland said, his passion for music started out in theater, which he said he has been participating in since he was 9 years old. He still does so at school, but he said a few years ago he wanted to get more into the musical side of it.

He started learning how to play guitar, along the way influenced by his father’s music collection and other performers such as Elvis Presley and Dire Straits.

McPoland said that now, his musical inspiration comes from themes of history and storytelling. That can be seen in his song “Lady Bird.” It begins with a recorded quote from Lady Bird Johnson about her beautification program initiative that focused on making highways more beautiful.

“We were driving and looking at all the wildflowers along the highway, talking about how Lady Bird Johnson had the beautification act. I thought it was really cool,” McPoland said. So, he wrote a song about it.

When that song was released last year, McPoland said that he was surprised to hear friends playing it at school.

“It’s interesting to see the interest in the community and how much people support local music. I think the idea of a local artist popping up, people are into it,” he said.

His foray into writing his own songs also lead to the formation of a band — Rosedown — with four other friends from his school. They formed last year and play at concerts and charity benefits in the area.

Yet, McPoland said his goal isn’t to be famous.

“(Being famous) has never been something I cared about. I just want to be successful in my music,” he said.

That seems to be in line with his plans. When McPoland graduates from high school this year, he’s not planning to head off to college — instead he wants to take at least a gap year to pursue his music first.

As part of that, McPoland is in the process of auditioning for American’s Got Talent, and is also headed to Cleveland, Ohio next month to compete in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s annual High School Rock Off, a competition for high school musicians.

McPoland’s mother, Sondra, is supportive of her son’s dreams.

“I want him to be able to do what he loves, to be able to do this for a living. The goal isn’t for him to be rich and famous, the goal is for him to do what he loves every day,” Sondra said.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

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