‘If not for you’

Local musician comes home to help dying father and launch her career

Singer-songwriter Hope Vista might not have finished college if not for her father. Because he had faith in her dream to become a musician, she feels she owes everything to him.
When he was on his deathbed, he asked her to finish college before launching her musical career. How could she say no?
Vista grew up with music beginning around 3 years old, mainly the classical music her father favored, and classic rock on the radio. Her favorite band is the Rolling Stones because of their longevity and their ability to continue to produce quality music.
Born Hope Oberwanowicz and raised in Bayonne, she came back to Hudson County earlier this year to help with her father’s passing, to become an executor of her father’s estate, and to grant his final wish.
Her father, Gary Oberwanowicz, was a musician and a music teacher in the Bayonne public schools for more than 30 years.
“He taught in every school over those years, but he last taught in Bayonne High School,” she said. “He was diagnosed with cancer in June 2014 and retired.”
From her father, she inherited several guitars, including the instruments she borrowed from her father so she could go out and perform.

“I always intended to come back to Bayonne.” – Hope Vista
Making a living and performing is always a challenge. She recalls trying to work at a Starbucks in Hoboken for a while, but couldn’t last as a barista. She had six classes her final semester, and now with college behind her she can focus on her writing, songwriting, and performing.
She graduated from Rowan University last May with a concentration in writing. She recently got a job as a blogger for a clothing firm, a job she can do while on tour. “This means I can work from wherever I am,” she said.
She has been playing music as a live performer since she was 13. Now, 10 years later, she is on the verge of making it in the music business.
Her music career took a leap ahead when she was accepted as a “promising artist” featured on the Island Def Jam website. While not a full-fledged record deal, it’s a huge step toward achieving her dreams. The label issues recordings for pop stars like Rihanna and Justin Bieber.

Back to Bayonne

When her father died last January, she decided to keep Bayonne as her base of operations.
“I always intended to come back to Bayonne,” she said. She moved in with her godfather and his family. Her godfather was her father’s best friend. “He’s the music director in Elizabeth, and he played with my father,” she said. “That’s how they became friends.”
Hope Vista uses her first and middle name for her career. She recently returned from Atlanta where she recorded a new EP. “A lot of things have changed over the last year,” she said.
While she doesn’t have a deal for the record yet, she has put together an impressive team that includes musicians, public relations and stage managers. It is her PR firm that put her together with the lead singer of Hit the Light to help her record on her new EP. She recently became a client of The Catalyst Publicity Group.
“I signed my contract with them in August,” she said. “My manager is Bernie Szuhaj. My EP was recorded, produced, and mixed by Zack Odom & Kenneth Mount at ZK Productions (www.zkproductions.com), the platinum-selling, Billboard-charting producers behind All Time Low, Cartel’s ‘Chroma,’ ‘Against The Current,’ ‘Set It Off,’ ‘Mayday Parade,’ and other records. The EP is titled ‘I Prevail.’ There’s collaboration on there featuring Nick Thompson of Hit The Lights.”

Many personal songs

She said some of the EP’s themes deal with coming to terms with her father. Her guitar work and her vocal talents allow her to express a range of emotions that change with each song. She also can coin a lyrical phrase.
On a song she wrote in particular for her father, she insisted on playing a Fender Stratocaster since it is one of the guitars he played and lent her. That guitar that has become her trademark as a performer. Another song deals with a falling out with a family member.
One song she is proud of is called “25/8,” which she said is a play on the concept of being there for someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “This is being there a little more than that,” she said.
Although the EP has some sad themes, she said it opens with a lively and upbeat number.
While the EP is being mastered, she is not scheduling live performances until November, when she will have a four-city New England tour underway. She hopes to return to the New York area after that. She said she has a lot of shows planned for the Philadelphia area, since she has a fan base there. She will be doing the EP release there.
She also noted that her manager and her drummer are still in college.
“We can do weekend shows,” she said. These could include work in Hudson County, especially Jersey City, whose live music scene in expanding. She has a photo shoot and a video for the new single scheduled shortly.
Her career, she said, is not yet where she wants it. But she feels as if she is on her way, performing with people she admires and respects.
Her single “Dominique” will be released shortly and available on iTunes. She also recently released a new single called “Wild Girl.”

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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