Easy, breezy, beautiful? Absolutely! Sydney Hutchko is also delightful, down to earth and dynamic. She’s lovely and likeable. She’s soulful and sweet, charitable, charming and cheerful.
One part of a performance you don’t have to ponder about at a pub crawl is public participation. On Saturday May 1st at River City in Wheeling, WV, Sydney was getting sloshed shouts from the seniors and alumni before her show even started. “We’re ready,” an inebriated audience member announced. Drinks were drank, drinks were dropped, and drinks were probably puked up later, but the most intoxicating thing about the notorious night was Sydney’s singing.
Although River City was either the fourth or fifth stop on the pub crawl, depending on who you asked, and there was still more beer to be bought at other bars, although they still had more stops to celebrate, they stayed for Sydney. Instead of becoming more bare the dance floor continued to get consistently crowded. Some swayed, some slow danced, some square danced, some swing danced, and some fell on the floor, but all were fervently having fun. Perhaps it was the pipes or because she is pretty, or most likely both, but Sydney possessed a power over the people. During the show Sydney was showered with five I love you’s, several proposals, and even a stuffed blue puppy.
Sydney not only started the party but also sustained it. Coinciding with her consistent spirit was her congruous singing. She started the show with a cover of “Gunpowder and Lead” by Miranda Lambert and also did “Down” and “Famous in a Small Town” by her fellow country companion. Other covers included Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name,” “Flat on the Floor,” and a duet with Wheeling wonder Matt VanFossen of “I Told You So.” She also saluted Sugarland , Shania Twain, Reba McEntyre, the Judds and even Elvis, but it was her brilliant original song “These Old Boots” that bridged the gap from former cover girl to future famous figure.
Sydney has the kind of talent that takes over a room and it took some time for her to tune in to it. “That was my mom,” she recalls of where the love of singing came from, because she was always surrounded by it. It became more than a hobby “when I was 8. I did a talent show and I fell in love with it. I’m not comfortable talking in front of people but I’m not scared to sing on stage,” she energetically elaborates in between sets.
Songwriting was something that she started doing to study all she could about her craft. “I was 12 or 13 when I started writing songs. They were like diary entries and also stories, but mostly it began with a diary style of songwriting. Some songs didn’t even have complete sentences – they were just words. They’re like poems,” she rapturously remembers.
“I just write down things when I get inspired. ‘I Love Black and Gold’,” a song she penned to show her pride for the Pittsburgh Steelers, “that was a fluke happening,” she stunningly smiles. “I was walking around Penn Station and singing Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ and I got the idea and started singing ‘I love black and gold.” Sydney often sings the National Anthem for her hometown sports teams which she takes very seriously.
“I love football and baseball and hockey,” she amiably answers when I ask if she is partial to a particular sport. She not only is so serious about being a successful singer that she started songwriting, but she also studies everything about the business that she belongs to. She is a Music Business major at Belmont University and is learning lots about the un-artistic aspects of her affection. “I’m learning about business and publishing and copyright. Copyright is more complicated than it sounds,” she lightheartedly laughs.
The transition from a local talent to a Nashville newcomer “was easy and hard,” she excitingly explains. “It was important for me to have my hometown behind me before I made the move. I wish I could fuse Pittsburgh and Nashville together. Now I can play in Nashville and Pittsburgh and Wheeling and surrounding cities and be sure that I’ll have support.”
Speaking specifically about Wheeling, Sydney had the prestige of playing the Wheeling Jamboree, the second oldest live radio show only to the Grand Old Opry. She has a goal of getting to go on stage to a standing-room only crowd at River City, something she is sure to secure. She beams, “Everytime the crowd gets bigger and better.” I was privileged to be a part of the performance and a witness to her wondrous work in Wheeling. Sydney doesn’t need a slogan to showcase her skill – all the amazing adjectives I can acquire wouldn’t express the excellence that she encompasses, and I’ll drink to that!