Lizzie No was one of those kids who always chose to write poems instead of making PowerPoint slides for her school presentation assignments.
In a way that, combined with her classical musical background, singing in choirs and playing violin, paved the way for her becoming the singer songwriter she is today.
However, it was when she picked up the harp so she could write her own material, that really started her journey of breaking musical boundaries.
"I picked the harp in the fifth grade and started writing my own songs and poems," No told the Weekly. "My parents loved stringed instruments, so the most unusual stringed instrument I could think of was the harp."
Now, as the New York-based musician gets ready to drop her third studio album on Jan. 19, No said she is excited to bring her genre-fusing folk music to the Tri-Valley as she gets set to perform next week for the "Rising Voices" concert at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.
"The way that she tells her stories within her music is just so compelling and so interesting," Livermore Valley Arts director of marketing Ruth Egherman told the Weekly. "I could feel ... not just the message, but the story she's telling."
Originally from New Jersey, No said her love for folk, country and singer songwriting music started when she began listening to artists like Bob Dylan, Ani DiFranco and Tracy Chapman in high school.
While generally categorized as contemporary folk, her 2017 debut album "Hard Won" and her 2019 album "Vanity" have so many different musical themes like blues and indie rock.
With all of her talent, it shouldn't also come as a surprise to learn that she had won an American Songwriter Magazine Lyrics Contest even before her debut album came out, which she said actually helped her get her start in the industry.
That underground success in the folk world is also one of the reasons why Egherman said she was excited to bring No to Livermore.
"We know that when we book artists like this, we're asking our audience to take a little bit of a risk," she said. "We also know that we're going to present them with some really incredible music and an incredible experience."
"Part of our goal at Livermore Valley Arts is to ... guide our audience to new artists that they should be paying attention to," Egherman added.
While it will be No's first time performing in the Tri-Valley, it is not her first time in the Bay Area.
A Stanford University alumna, No spent a lot of time playing gigs around the Bay and throughout California and fell in love with the West Coast, art scene and culture
"California has a very big and heavy place in my history as an artist," she said.
While she is gaining more traction in the music industry with all the touring, No said she still finds it sometimes difficult to navigate in today's music world in that she can't make a living simply by just selling her albums.
"I feel like capitalism has really entered its final stages, like, across the board. But the way that manifests in the music industry is that very few people are making almost all of the money and everybody else is kind of fighting over scraps," No said.
Despite that starving-artist stereotype and pushing the narrative of the music industry exploiting musicians through things like streaming platforms, No said she still enjoys what she does and is looking forward to sharing her art with folks in the Tri-Valley.
She is particularly excited to play some new songs off her upcoming album -- which she has been working on since 2019 -- for the people at the Bankhead, especially given that it is the first time she is putting out music on her own record label Miss Freedomland, along with Thirty Tigers, an independent label based in Nashville.
She also said she is excited to share the Bankhead stage with the other "Rising Voices" performers, Buffalo Nichols and Sunny War, not just because she likes collaborating with other artists, but because she also looks up to them as musicians.
"It's like a dream come true because I've admired their music for so long," No said. "I'm just hoping to do more of that, like, share the stage with other artists that I really admire."
Nichols is another modern day blues and folk guitar player and singer who is pushing the envelope of redefining the genre to tell the stories of Black people in America through his own lens, LVA officials said in a press release.
"While acknowledging the joy, exuberance and triumph contained in the blues, Nichols looks intently at the genre's origins, which harken back to complicated and dire circumstances for Black Americans," the press release states.
War, similarly, will also look to bring her raw take of "ecstatic gospel, dusty country blues, thoughtful folk, rip-roaring rock and roll, even avant garde studio experiments" to the show, according to LVA officials, who said War's music is an emotional journey as she self-reflects on her difficult past.
No is scheduled to perform with Nichols and War at the Bankhead next Friday (Nov. 17). The show is set to start at 8 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.livermorearts.org.