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What do Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and the Grammys have in common? Tehillah Alphonso.

I discovered Tehillah while reading my high school alumni magazine.  Tehillah and I both went to an all-girls Catholic school in Omaha, Nebraska.

Marian High School was a place that encouraged young women to live a life of pride in themselves, their grades, their faith, and how they walk in the world.  And Tehillah has done this in spades.

New-Jersey-born and Nebraska-raised, Tehillah Alphonso is a Nigerian-American musician based in Los Angeles, California.

Though Tehillah was introduced to music at an early age, her musical endeavors truly began in 2014 when she was accepted into an elite teen summer intensive called A Cappella Academy.

A proud Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Southern California, Tehillah received her B.M. in Popular Music Performance from the Thornton School of Music and was named the 2020 Outstanding Graduate. While a full-time student at USC, she served as Business Manager and Music Director of USC’s premiere a cappella group, and five-time ICCA champions, the SoCal VoCals. Her time with the VoCals created opportunities to perform in legendary venues such as the Staples Center, the Rose Bowl, and Carnegie Hall.

Shortly after graduating, Tehillah quickly made a name for herself as a session singer and vocal arranger. She has sung in a number of films and television series, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Affair, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Space Jam 2 (2021), Encanto (2021), and Sing 2 (2021).

She has also shared the stage with notable artists, including NIKI, Björk, Billie Eilish, and Olivia Rodrigo. In November 2021, she was nominated for her first GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Arrangement, Instruments, and Vocals” for her arrangement of “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, performed by LA-based choir Tonality and conducted by Alexander Lloyd Blake.

And today she tells her story on Cracking Open.

Tehillah shares her journey of growing up in the Midwest, and how it was her parents’ work ethic that installed in her the motivation and drive to succeed in Los Angeles’ music industry. She talks about how being a backup singer is exactly where she wants to be on the stage and blesses us with her strong and memorable voice by singing a capella live in this episode.

What do a belief in yourself, hard work, and following your dreams have in common? It will feel very clear to you after listening to this week’s episode of Cracking Open.

Learn more about Tehillah Alphonso here

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Listen to her Grammy-Nominated Song, “A Change Is Gonna Come”

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