Meet Sydney Worthley, the Girl Next Door Turned Pop Star
On a recent Saturday, I ran into Sydney Worthley out and about in the 518. Wearing overalls and a messy bun, Worthley presents as an unassuming girl next door who loves Taylor Swift, her job in an elementary school, and cuddling my golden retriever. The paradox here is that she’s a budding rock star who performs at local venues in hot pink pants while rocking out to her original songs.
Worthley has a powerhouse of a voice, and if you’ve heard it, you know it’s true: she stands out as someone who can sing ballads and powerful heavier songs alike. If you haven’t heard her, you are really missing out on unique lyrics that openly display her worries, hopes, and dreams for the world.
Worthley answered a few questions for us at Nippertown about how she became this girl next door turned highly admired musician, and the answers surprised even me. We first saw Worthley when she was still in high school, and she impressed me as someone with a lot of confidence and passion for her art.
And while it appears she was an overnight success, Worthley has been working at it since elementary school.
“I was lucky to go to a school with a rich music program. I remember being immersed in music as young as 6 years old,” she explained. “My school held talent shows in 4th and 5th grade. I started learning guitar 3 months before the show and decided to perform for the first time in front of my entire school. I wish I could be as ambitious as I was when I was 9. My mom and I started looking for open mics in the area and I performed just about every month at the Saratoga Children’s Open Mics.”
She describes her 9-year-old self as ambitious, but she also sounds incredibly brave. Worthley added, “I went from doing covers to branching out into writing my own songs and testing them out at open mics. I eventually started doing open mics and gigs at Emack and Bolio’s. Once I was 13, I met my band members at the time and everything took off from there!”
A local kid who grew up in the 518, Worthley admits she has been inspired by the live music scene in the area. “I get a lot of my inspiration from local live music. I feel whenever I meet musicians in the area and I hear how different each person’s songwriting style is, the more curious and inspired I become. Just trying to broaden your horizons as an artist keeps you from being static. My worst fear is being the same artist I was 5 years ago.”
Worthley writes her own original music, including songs like my favorite “Rose Colored Glasses.” I asked her about how she goes about writing, especially finding the right lyrics with the melodies.
“I feel like my writing process reflects my fear of becoming static in some capacity. Trying to challenge myself, trying out different styles of writing until it feels authentic to who I am and who I can become,” she shared. Often this results in very personal, authentic songs that draw listeners into her world.
Worthley recalls growing up in the capital region as a joyful series of opportunities to see national and local bands alike, expanding her courage to step on the stage with greater confidence.
“I loved summer in the 518 the most,” she recalled. “We would get lawn tickets to shows at SPAC when I was younger and go out to see live music at restaurants. I would do talent competitions at the fairs in the 518 and get to meet bands that were performing after the competition was over. I’m a bit of a homebody now but I’ve been trying to get out and see more live music.”
Her favorite bands in Nippertown? “I had the chance to see Doctor Baker and E.R.I.E. a few weeks ago and of course that was a killer show. I actually went to a couple of Taylor Swift parties at Empire Live and one at Lark Hall. I’m so psyched that venues are doing parties like that. I really wanted to go to Abba night so hopefully they bring that back!” she shared, revealing that girl next door’s glee.
Worthley works in an elementary school during the day, so I asked her what type of advice she would give young people starting out in their careers.
“Self-doubt comes with the territory. When you’re the one writing, singing, performing, emailing, and promoting, you have the pressure of about 10 different jobs on your shoulders. Give yourself some grace and be patient with the process,” she answered earnestly.
Worthley added, “Putting yourself out there is enough. I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve done where I’m on stage thinking “Do they like me? Am I being confident enough? Are they listening to what I have to say?” Especially as a woman. But when you get off stage you’ll find out that nobody was doubting you as much as you doubt yourself. Remember why you started this…it’s fun! It’s easier said than done but try to stay present and block out that doubt!”
It’s hard to imagine she has any self-doubt if you’ve ever seen her on stage, dancing and singing her original songs like “How Soon Is Now” and the vulnerable “Heart Shaped Mess.” Worthley has a magic that hints at pop music while also embracing grittier rock sounds.
So which direction will she take? Worthley isn’t going to commit to one genre or another.
“One thing I know for sure is that I will be writing music. This past year has been the most fun I’ve had while doing music. I think it’s only going to get better. I’d love to be touring in 10 years whether that’s opening for an artist or (being my ambitious 9-year-old self) headlining my own tour.”
Worthley made me laugh with her goal of commercial endorsement. “I joke about this but I might as well put it into the universe: I want to be sponsored by Dr. Pepper. I think that would be the most sincere sponsorship yet. We can start a Super Bowl Dr. Pepper halftime show.”
But more seriously, Worthley noted “All I want to do is keep writing music because it’s so healing and cathartic. Performing and playing with my band brings me such pure joy that I want to continue for as long as possible. I just want to keep the joy in making music!”
Want to catch this rising pop star here in the 518? She will be at the Jive Hive (invite only) on April 14th with E.R.I.E., a show that shouldn’t be missed. Worthley is also slated to play at the MOVE Music Festival on April 29th and will be at Argyle Brewing on June 28th. Nipper recommends catching her while she’s still local to us, and not off staring in her Dr. Pepper commercials.