Hair dresser dabbles in music, lands on iTunes
By 2013, Palmyra High School graduate Olivia Farabaugh had already achieved a lot. She was a two-time state champion on the girls' cross country team and was a member of the 4x8 team.
After turning down an offer to run at Shippensburg University because her heart wasn't in it, she decided to go to school for something her heart was in – doing hair.
Farabaugh currently works at U-Turn Salon in Palmyra, but Farabaugh's most recent accolade is her biggest one yet, as she released her debut album, "Prisoner of War," on iTunes.
"It was so cool releasing it. I can go to iTunes and type in my name and see it pop up," Farabaugh said in an interview at her home. "It's totally cool. I got hooked up and I was really blessed to record at The Green Room in Harrisburg. There was a guy that got some recording time and gave me some of it. I was blessed to get the CDs out, because if it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't have been able to."
Farabaugh's album, which is named after an original song on the album, is an eight-track effort with seven original songs and one cover of "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins. The album is available for $7.92 as a digital download on iTunes, or hard copies are available for $5 at her shows.
"I made the covers and everything for my album. I've been selling them at my shows for $5, and they've been selling pretty well. The iTunes copies have been selling pretty well, too," Farabaugh said. "It's a big compliment when someone comes up and tells me that they liked my album and bought it on iTunes."
Farabaugh's release is filled with an acoustic sound throughout, which makes iTunes look like a genius as it has Ed Sheeran as the first related artist.
"Oh my god. That's so cool. It's a huge compliment, because I love Ed Sheeran," Farabaugh said upon learning that her favorite artist was listed there. "I just bought the loop pedal like the one he uses. I'm not the master like he is, though. It's such a compliment that he's a suggested artist. I definitely have that acoustic sound like he does."
Despite being a newer artist, Sheeran holds the role of inspiration for her, but some country artists helped to pave the way for her sound, too.
"When I first started out, I listened to a lot of country music, but I wouldn't consider myself a country singer. I always looked up to Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves," she said. "Once I heard Ed Sheeran, it's like another door opened in my brain for different things that I could do. I really researched a lot of stuff that he has done. He's definitely an inspiration even though he's newer."
Farabaugh released the album independently, but said if she got the chance, she'd love to sign on with a major label and make this her full-time career.
"I definitely would love to do hair for family members still, but if that day came – don't tell my boss – I would definitely take it," Farabaugh said with a laugh. "You get to play shows, travel and meet amazing people. Being independent is cool because you get a lot more freedom for what you can and can't do. Having a label can limit you sometimes, but it really helps to have a good label."
Farabaugh got her start in the music industry at a young age, when she started singing in the church choir. From there, she took eight years of guitar lessons from Steve Creter starting in the summer when she went into fifth grade.
Despite her experience, she only started performing live two years ago.
"I'm branching out more than I thought that I would at this point. I've only been playing out for two years now," Farabaugh said. "When I first started, it was at two coffee shops. Now, people are asking me to play at different events and brew fests. It's really cool to be able to do that."
The biggest show that Farabaugh has played to date was the Fort Hunter Park Brew Fest in Harrisburg. Farabaugh said that there were so many people there, and she actually prefers the larger crowds to the smaller ones.
But perhaps the biggest performance for her won't be judged by the size of the crowd, but by her feelings toward it. On September 12, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Farabaugh will be one of the many artists performing at the Foglemans Wounded Warrior Music Fest.
"It's going to be really cool. I'll be playing in it with so many good bands. I'm really excited," Farabaugh said. "Everything goes to the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors; literally, everything. The bands don't get paid or anything. It'll be a really cool event."
Farabaugh is excited for the event, and perhaps it's because she can relate to it. Her song "Prisoner of War" deals with being away from people, especially those in the service.
Olivia Farabaugh of Palmyra, PA performs "Prisoner of War" off of her album Prisoner of War that was released in 2015. Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News
"I feel like a lot of people can relate to that either through a service member or a family member. Everyone knows somebody that has been through something like that. It's just a very relative song," Farabaugh said. "Even if you don't want to think of it as being related to the service, you can still relate to it. That's why I picked that as the title of my album, because it just speaks to a large amount of people."
It's how she approaches most of her music, too, with songs that people can relate to.
"I love doing hair, because you can make people feel good. But with music, you can reach everyone with one song. I have one song on here called 'Colors.' I wrote it in high school and there's a lot of sadness in it and people were taking their own lives," Farabaugh said. "It happened like three times, and then I wrote the song. That one song, if the right person hears it, it could save their life. With music, they can interpret your song however it is meant to help them.
"I want to have people relate to my music. I have one song on the album called 'Dark Side,' and it's not a mean song. It's not, but people can relate to it because it's about crazy exes. It doesn't make people feel sad or anything."
For now, the 20-year-old Farabaugh will continue working at U-Turn salon and playing her local gigs. If it turns out to be more, she's ready for it to happen.
"I always say that I'll let the music take me where it wants to go. God has a plan for me, and I'm just going to follow it," she said.