Felicia Punzo claims spot on Billboard Dance Club chart


One need not reach a particular age to possess a profuse appreciation for the potential of a passion. Felicia Punzo has spent 18 of her 22 years living a performance-packed existence, yearning not only to forge a prolific singing profile but also to inspire the pursuit of any dream. The vigorous vocalist has begun to complement her status as a beloved local presence with national acclaim, as her song “Sound My Heart Makes” has claimed the No. 35 position on the Billboard Dance Club chart.

“It’s such a fun song to sing,” the Packer Park inhabitant said of the tune, which fellow South Philadelphians have belted back to her during local festivals. “It’s been with me for a few years, so I’m thrilled that it’s receiving mainstream exposure.”

Punzo, whose area adulation includes a second-place finish as top performer in this year’s South Philly Review Readers’ Choice Awards, celebrated the energetic composition’s entry onto the chart in June. She has called on the catchy number to achieve reputable rankings on reverbnation.com, with the piece and other selections helping her to piece her career together.

“I’m open to a bunch of influences, and I still definitely want to experiment,” Punzo, with ample dance and pop rock experience, said of adding to her arsenal. “It can be such a tough business, but because of my family and my faith, I believe everything is going to work out.”

That positively persistent approach has found the young woman garnering gigs throughout her journey, infusing her output with a nod to the knowledge that comes with being true to oneself and accepting the notion that a crowd will not always be correct.

“I don’t think it’s healthy to force anything,” Punzo said, reflecting the lyrics “There’s no point in rushing fate/The best things in life are worth the wait” from her 2009 track “Believe.” “My music is my job, and all my future will consist of is this. I have to make the best decisions for me because I’m a disciple of personal responsibility.”

In linking with similar advocates of that mindset, Punzo has found herself saddened at times to learn of the lack of self-esteem plaguing many youths. Close enough in age to many of the challenged children, she has presented herself as a mentor, especially through her year-old Live Pray Music and Believe Foundation and its I’m Just a Kid anti-bullying program that takes its name from another well-received song. With direct awareness of the sting of ridicule, Punzo, whose altruism has resulted in visits to seven local schools, knows that balancing life’s misfortunes with moments of majesty helps to mold an unflappable identity.

“Music has brought out my personality, for sure,” the chanteuse, who recalled feeling shy as a girl, said of her maturation. “It can do that for other people, too, but if it’s not music, it has to be something else. If you’re doing what you love, that’s a huge key to your happiness.”

Punzo began to be able to pronounce herself as a prosperous performer even before she started elementary school. With input from her relatives, she quickly decided that singing would vanquish all other vocations and started to score copious opportunities to shine, including her first recording session as a 14-year-old.

“I just loved how I felt when being in front of people,” she said of her initial fortune. “It seemed to me as if all these new and exciting worlds were waiting for me, and I wanted to enter them.”

Matriculating at Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., she became a constant connoisseur of quality chances to channel her zeal, with interactions with well-renowned individuals, including Philly’s own Bunny Sigler, a contemporary of South Philly native Kenny Gamble, proving instrumental. Upon her graduation from the East Passyunk Crossing-based institution in 2011, a year that saw the inclusion of her rhythm and blues single “Alone” on a Florida-issued Winter Music Conference Compilation CD, she felt more at ease with her mission within the music realm, seeing her calling not only as a means for individual gain.

“As a senior, I figured out where I wanted it all to go, and that definitely meant using my story, which features moments of being a victim of negativity, to encourage others to fight through their hard times,” Punzo, who went on to study at The University of the Arts, said. “I come from a family that wants to help people, so that’s in my blood, and I love it.”

As touching lives has achieved equal standing with polishing melodies, Punzo has profited from her unflinching commitment to credibility, which the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of UNICO honored May 1 in presenting her with its Humanitarian of the Year Award. No matter how many accolades she collects or acknowledgments she accepts as an artist, especially for “Sound My Heart Makes,” which will be receiving consideration for a Grammy Award nomination, according to patriarch Frank Punzo, humility will always help her to deem herself a conduit for an immense message — never cease seeking.

“I want to expand my national profile as a singer,” the virtuoso, who will participate in July 25’s Daylife Beach Club Old School Freestyle event at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, said. “However, I fully know that my destiny is not to be in this business for myself. It’s all about making connections for me, and I don’t limit that to professional ones.”

Having heard that she needs to marinate to prepare for the rigors of her field, Punzo contends that she has absorbed enough and can exact her plans accordingly.

“I’m a passionate person, and that can get someone hurt, but I don’t break,” she said. “This is my life.”

Visit feliciapunzo.com.

Contact Managing Editor Joseph Myers at jmyers@southphillyreview.com or ext. 124.