Following the release of her single, “Better Than I Am” on Dec. 1, Webster University Sophomore, Aubory Bugg, is on the high road. The singer-songwriter, who won first place in last year’s St. Louis Teen Talent Competition, gave a breakout performance during GroveFest in early October on the festival’s mainstage. And on Dec. 3, she made her debut at the Blue Strawberry in the Central West End.
Bugg says getting to perform at GroveFest and introducing her voice to thousands of music fans was a chance occurrence.
“Music’s really all I got … music is what I love doing and what makes me feel the most at home in myself. I didn’t really have another option,” Bugg said.
Music has always had a strong presence in Bugg’s life. She has been singing since age 2. She took guitar lessons at 6, quit, then picked it back up at 8. She began songwriting at 11 and began playing trumpet at 12. However, Bugg said she originally was going to pursue a law degree and become an attorney.
“I really like the idea that normal, everyday people can help people,” Bugg said.
For Bugg, music always seemed an unviable career path, but in 2020, during the pandemic, it hit her: Music is where she belongs.
After participating in the Teen Talent Competition that allowed her to perform on stage at the Fox Theatre, with the show later airing on the Nine Network, she began to think she could make music her career. She had her first try as a contestant in 2021, finishing second. During her senior year of high school in 2022, she returned to the competition and was crowned the winner.
“Music, it’s like the real deal. I can’t think about doing anything else,” Bugg said.
Last year, Bugg applied to Webster University for its proximity to home (Granite City) and its jazz scene. She’s double-majoring in Music and Political Science.
Bugg has more music on the way. She already has one single out titled, “New Phone.” The goal, she says, is to put out an EP and eventually an album. She’s currently working with Carl Nappa, head of Audio Aesthetics and Technology at Webster’s School of Communications.
Nappa, who has done engineering for artists spanning from David Bowie to Missy Elliot, said he has worked with artists who do the same genre of music as Bugg, but she is one of his favorites.
“What makes Aubory special is her songs. Her lyrics also paint a beautiful picture and give the listener a fantastic glimpse into the song’s soul,” Nappa said.
Bugg describes her music as “folk met blues, met pop, met Americana.” She finds it hard to place a single label over her style. Influences on her music include a wide range of everything, from Brandi Carlile to Maynard Ferguson. Eva Cassidy, an artist active during the 1990s, was a huge vocal inspiration to Bugg. Stomp and chant folk that tell a story, such as music from The Lumineers or Noah Kahan, also play a big influence, she said.
If you asked her six months ago, Bugg said she wanted to be the next Taylor Swift, selling out stadium tours and having the best-selling albums. Now, the dream would be to sell out smaller venues like Delmar Hall in The Loop.
“I really just want to reach as many people as I can with music … as long as I’m supporting a fulfilling life by just playing music I think I’ll be happy,” she said.