New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Musician Sloane Simon on finding harmony in community

The frontwoman of the 2024 UltraViolet Live Best Group Performance winner and a Clive Davis first-year, Sloane Simon spoke with WSN about how interpersonal connection has grounded her musically.
Sloane Simon is a pop singer and Clive Davis student. (Courtesy of Zac Hilimire)

Clive Davis first-year Sloane Simon conquered her awkward phase in middle school by landing music gigs at local restaurants. Simon performed covers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Rihanna, and original songs in front of Pittsburgh residents.

“I would perform happy hours at a rowdy pizza shop for $27, a fountain drink and a slice, and that was my first step at becoming a performing musician,” Simon said in an interview with WSN. “My middle school crush would come and see me perform and that was horrible in the moment, but looking back, it made me realize how much I appreciate singing to strangers. It also forced me out of my shell and I was able to become more comfortable in larger areas with more people.”

Simon began writing her own songs when her mother gifted her a guitar at just 8 years old, which she said was intended to be a distraction from her mother’s cancer diagnosis.

“She didn’t know that it would turn into my greatest passion and my calling in life,” Simon said.

Despite the introspective nature of her songs, Simon has used music as a vehicle for connection, both at home in Pittsburgh and at NYU. As a Recorded Music major at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, she’s pushed creatively by her peers in songwriting as well as the technical or entrepreneurial aspects of the music industry. From coursework in entertainment law and sound engineering to a class called Critical Listening, Simon’s learned to do just that, applying it to collaboration with other musicians that pushes her creatively both in and out of the classroom. Her band, Sloane and Friends, won Best Group Performance at NYU’s UltraViolet Live in February with the performance of her original song “Take a Step Back.”

Simon’s focus on connection and collaboration is only highlighted by her community involvement. Simon previously won the grand prize in the 2022 Hall of Personal Expression contest hosted by Robbie’s Hope, a nonprofit organization committed to cutting teen suicide rates. Her submission, “Drama Queen,” details her struggle to feel accepted within gossip culture on social media. Simon performed at the annual gala, and advocated for teenage mental health resources.

“Meeting people who are appreciative of the arts and also have such a special message behind what they’re doing makes it so heartfelt,” Simon said. “I’ve always tried to prioritize mental health, so getting involved in that organization was really special.”

In New York City, Simon’s community involvement has enabled her to engage with storytelling in a variety of mediums, from songwriting to music production as well as musical theater. Simon will be playing Mary Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary in “Gas Light Café: The John Mitchell Story,” an off-Broadway musical at The Cutting Room for performances on April 27 and 28. The musical chronicles John Mitchell’s career and his opening of the Gaslight Café in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, a popular venue for folk legends such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Ironically, John Mitchell also lived in Pittsburgh.

“I’ve always loved musical theater,” Simon said. “I feel like songwriting is more my calling, but this is the perfect crossroad.”

While she’s had no lack of accomplishments — from placing in the top 40 of American Idol in 2021 as a sophomore in high school to being designated as Women Who Rock’s Rising Star in 2023 — Simon says her proudest achievement has been making the jump to being a college student away from her family and her hometown, which have been formative in her progression as a musician.

Simon’s upcoming single, “Daylight Savings,” was written early on in her first semester at NYU, when she discovered her mother’s cancer relapsed. Written at a time away from home, Simon says it’s a reflection of her fears and feelings of “losing time with the people you love.” However, she’s insistent that like all her other songs, its power lies in individual resonance rather than a universal meaning.

“I never really like explaining the meanings of my songs because I don’t want to force feed something down someone’s throat,” Simon said. “The most beautiful part about music is that you can find your own meaning in it.”

Simon’s upcoming single, “Daylight Savings,” will be released on April 12.

Contact Dani Biondi at [email protected].

View comments (1)

Comments (1)

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • A

    Alisia HoughtalingApr 4, 2024 at 9:10 pm

    How awesome! I watched Sloane and Friends at Ultraviolet live with an open jaw at how amazing they were. I hope to see much more of them in the future. “Take A Step Back” has been consistently stuck in my head. Sloane, I am hoping for a speedy recovery for your mom, I am sure you make her so beyond proud everyday. You are awesome and cannot wait to see more of you! 🙂