Rising junior makes a name for herself on the music scene
May 27, 2010 By Marla Sweitzer
performed at the 2009 Motorsport Nationals Show in Atlanta.
The duo, who attended high school together, viewed each other
as competitors before realizing how well they sang together.
Burke not only spends her time on the stage but on the basketball
court; she is a guard for Centre. “Balancing schoolwork,
basketball and singing is very stressful,” she says. “You have to
manage your time wisely.”
Alyson Burke, a rising junior at Centre College, has a bit more to balance on her plate than the typical college student.
In addition to double majoring in psychology and anthropology/sociology and playing on the women’s varsity basketball team, Burke sings in a country/rock duo called Aly’an.
“Balancing schoolwork, basketball and singing is very stressful,” she says. “You have to manage your time wisely. During the winter, singing slows down and we’re mostly doing studio work, so I get to focus more on basketball and school, but when April rolls around, singing picks up and I’m booked almost every weekend.”
The other half of the duo consists of her best friend, Andrea Warner, who she grew up with in Central Kentucky. The two, who went to the same school and played on the same basketball team, began as music rivals.
“When we went out to the fairs for singing competitions, I looked at her as my biggest rival,” Burke says. “Finally one day we were sitting in her living room and just started singing—and discovered that our voices blended well together.”
The pair describes their music as country and classic rock with a twist, influenced by Sugarland, Journey and the Dixie Chicks.
When Burke was 15, she and Warner proposed the idea of beginning a music career to Warner’s father, who now acts as the duo’s manager. They formed The Wild Roses, which consisted of local musicians and played primarily at local events.
In 2009, Burke and Warner put together a new band, Aly’an (Aly from the beginning of Burke’s name and An from the beginning of Warner’s) so they could play shows outside of the Bluegrass. Although they began playing at fundraisers and restaurants, they have now branched into music festivals, opening for the likes of Trent Tomlinson, Ashton Shepard, Chris Knight and Cross Canadian Ragweed.
Aly’an is currently promoting their new album, Sweet Harmony. The title track was co-written by the pair.
This summer, the duo will open up for Bucky Covington (of American Idol fame) at the Bell County fair on August 28. Other summer events include singing the national anthem at a Lexington Legends Minor League game (June 3), and at Irvine McDowell Park in Richmond (June 22). While Aly’an hoped to open for Toby Keith and Sugarland this summer, other shows ended up conflicting with these events.
When asked at what age she began singing, Burke recalls singing around the home as a child. “One of the family friends went up to my mom and said, ‘Did you know that your daughter has a great voice?’ After that, I signed up for all the local fairs' competitions and then began singing at various music jamborees around Kentucky.”
Last year, Burke tried out for American Idol in Los Angeles, making it to the sixth round. “The American Idol experience was pointblank an experience,” she says. “It’s not what you see on TV. It was more of a growing experience for me. I met many great singers and performers and had a blast. Unfortunately I was cut because of my age because I was just 16 at the time.”
While the head producer told Burke to come back and try out again at a later age, she has been unable to do so due to school and other activities.
Burke’s friends have also been an essential source of support and encouragement. “They always joke and say, ‘Just don’t forget about me when you become famous.’ They don't treat me any differently. I don’t think they understand how much they’ve helped me when I’ve been overwhelmed with school, ball and singing. They always lend a helping hand and I couldn’t do it without them,” she says.
Both Warner and Burke plan to pursue a career in singing. Warner, a 2010 Transylvania graduate and business administration major, plans to move to Nashville.
“I will definitely continue my music career after graduation,” Burke says.