Pitch Perfect: Alissa Kotranza

Alissa Kotranza had been pursuing her career long before attending the University of Florida. In fact, she had been pursuing it before even attending preschool.

“I’ve been a performer since I was three,” the 20-year-old junior said.

From her seven-year commitment to a nationally renowned all-girls entertainment troupe called Entertainment Review, years of vocal lessons, and an active role in her college a capella group, Kotranza said she has always been singing.

She said her peers have compared her soulful voice to one of a "300-pound black woman," which is unexpected based on her appearance.

“They say you can’t create certain skills out of nothing,” she said of her natural talent, but it hasn’t always been that way. “My voice is exceedingly different than it used to be.”

She recalled sounding like Hilary Duff during an audition at 10 years old, singing a song by the pop girl band Play. After studying the more technical side of singing and practicing with voice coaches, Kotranza said she has matured as a singer.

Although she relies more on natural techniques, such as intonation, which is a way of identifying change in pitch, Kotranza said her educated background in the art has helped her voice become melancholic. Now, she has more of a “belt” and “chest voice” within her range of tone, giving it a blues-like quality.

Growing up, she said she had a knack for being able to imitate other music artists’ singing styles. Whether it’s Christina Aguilera’s songs or Avril Lavigne’s music from her middle school days, Kotranza loves adapting songs from pop artists, but she has since found her own style.

“I know how to sing like me as opposed to trying to sing like other artists,” she said.

For her audition for No Southern Accent, UF’s 18-member co-ed a capella group, Kotranza said she sang her version of “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine. She said there were only three spots available out of about 150 auditions, many of them singing the same song, but she remembered feeling optimistic. When she had finished singing, everyone was smiling, she said.

Since her freshman year, Kotranza said she has held an active role in the group. Besides participating in campus events throughout the year and singing festive music for the holidays, she and NSA have attended competitions and performances in Jacksonville, Atlanta, North Carolina, and the Gator Nation cruise.

Joining NSA is the best thing she could have done to stay close to music during college, Kotranza said, but her true love will always be rock ‘n’ roll. Not only is “classic, alternative, and everything in between” her favorite genre to listen to, but it is her passion as well.

Singing along to guitars in her boyfriend’s band, Taj, and listening to her favorite band, Led Zeppelin, has partially influenced her preference, she said.

And although she doesn’t necessarily have to sing music like Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus, Kotranza said she sees herself sticking with modern music with a pop quality.

No matter what she does, though, Kotranza said she will never stop singing.

“Music will always be a part of my life,” she said. “Hopefully music will be my life.”