August 30, 2012SHELBURNE - Gorham Middle School students Max Sjostrom just may be one the best singers in his age group in the entire state of New Hampshire. He has won first place in the Keene Idol contest earlier this month, first place in the Seacoast Idol competition in June, and was chosen to sing the National Anthem at the Aug. 1 Fishercat's game in Manchester.
Max said he has always liked to sing. His parents, Kris and Linda Sjostrom, said they can remember him singing from the time he was about three years old. His first time singing in front of people was a sad occasion, the funeral of his grandfather where he sang with his older sister, but it was that experience that taught him he had the courage to get up and sing in front of people.
It was after that that he decided to start taking steps pursuing what he loved to do with the eventual goal of it being his career when he grew up.
The 12-year old is a member of chorus at school and sang last fall at Gorham's homecoming bonfire - to a throng of adoring girls, his mother notes.
He has also participated in performances produced by "The Vintage Rose," a group of performers that come together to put on shows. They perform individually with a variety of music types. Other local people involved were Randy Messineo, who also performed at the art show at the Medallion Opera House last Friday, and Michael Eastman, owner of Art for the Soul. Included in one of the performances was Katie Rose, who was the junior country music artist of the year.
"The producer of that group, Alan Peale, had heard Max sing and invited him in," Kris Sjostrom said. "He fit right in, even though most were adults."
He has also sung in a show at St. Kieran Arts Center and participated in two talent shows at his school, where he took first place. He also sang at the Miss Teenage Berlin-Gorham pageant in 2011..
More recently he participated in the sixth annual Seacoast Idol competition in Exeter on June 10 where he performed the Temptation's "My Girl." He received first place among 18 contestants in the 17 and under category and received first place in the 14 and under category at the Keene Idol competition earlier this month.
The Family Resource Center in Gorham was the recipient at a radio station of a year of free ads. They chose Max to be the voice of those ads and he has been going to Concord periodically to tape them.
His love of music began with piano lessons with Nancy Winsor of Jefferson. That's really where he got is foundation in music, his parents said.
Serious about a career in singing, he has been taking singing lessons for two years with Christina Noyes, who is the chorus teacher at Gorham High School, and is now beginning to study with Ellen Nordstrom, who is the vocal teacher at the Concord School of Music.
"I've been practicing a lot for the future, learning different types of songs so I can just pick out a song and sing it when I need to," Max said. "I'm hoping I'll go far with singing."
If he could design his future perfectly, Max said he'd like to be a pop star in a few years.
Pop music is his favorite, but when asked if he had a favorite artist, he couldn't pick just one. "I like all artists," he said.
But if things don't work out, he has a backup plan, taking over his mother's business as a financial advisor. He loves math. It's the high honors student's favorite subject.
As much time as singing and keeping his grades up takes, it's not the only thing in Max's life. He is going to be on the middle school soccer team this fall and is considering basketball and baseball as well.
He said he also loves to swim and read adventure stories.
Max said some of his song ideas come from two older siblings, a brother living in California and a sister who is a voice instructor in Claremont. To learn a new song, he gets the words and karaoke music and practices, practices, practices.
His parent said they are very proud of Max, as well as his brother Sam, a year older and more involved in athletic endeavors.
"He's doing what he like to do and it's going well," Kris Sjostrom said.
Max does have music videos on You Tube. The next Justin Bieber?