Local 17-year-old destined for successful music career
Visitors to local spots like Guiseppe’s and The Winery at La Grange may have had the pleasure of relaxing while listening to a soothing voice perform acoustic covers as well as original songs. While local 17-year-old singer and songwriter Devin Thistle’s rise to local fame has been building in the last year, time will tell if we all will be saying “I knew him when” as he is headlining Jiffy Lube Live amphitheatre while touring the country.
Born into a family of music lovers and to a musically gifted father, Devin Thistle seemed predestined to become a performer. Devin says, “I grew up always wanting to be a part of anything musical that was happening around me, whether it was my dad playing his music in the car or me singing along to the soundtrack of Disney Pixar’s Hercules in the living room.” Childhood photos show him playing on the keyboard and piano at only 10 months old, but it was during his elementary school years that his interest in guitar began, says his mother Saburnia Scott.
Devin began guitar lessons with Mike Harrington and voice lessons with Anne Albright at Contemporary Music Center (CMC) in the heart of Haymarket, and “the rest is history.” The availability of classes and the appreciation for music that is cultivated in Haymarket helped Devin to make the progression from enjoying music as a hobby to becoming a performer. CMC played an enormous role, Devin says, citing the “unexplainably unique” atmosphere at both CMC and @4410, the live venue located in the lower level of the building. “I am beyond grateful for what they do there. CMC has not only intensified my love for music, but has also shown me all of the different corners of music and music genres, ultimately helping me to find what types of music through which I express myself most naturally.”
Menzie Pittman, director of education and owner of CMC, has had a front-row seat to witness Devin’s musical progression. “When someone first sees Devin Thistle perform, they immediately notice the depth of his connection to music. That connection is unfiltered, and knowing him I have only seen that connection grow. The difference between a musician and an artist is an artist gets out of the way and lets his or her need for expression be their guide. Let there be no doubt, I see clearly the artist in Devin Thistle.”
In the beginning, as he began playing at open mic nights, Devin grew more and more confident when receiving compliments as he walked off the stage each time. And while he knew he enjoyed performing, it wasn’t until people who wanted the best for him began to offer constructive criticism that he realized they were helping him to become a better musician. These people truly saw his talent and cared about his future in music. Seeking out trusted advice is something Devin has the wisdom to do, says Menzie.
These days find Devin almost always with a guitar in his hand, either performing at open mic night at @4410 or local venues, hanging around CMC, practicing with fellow musician friends, or performing with his brother Cameron—a sound that is a natural as sunlight, says Menzie—or attending concerts. While his biggest inspiration in music comes from artists like Ed Sheeran and Jimi Hendrix, due to their raw talent, originality, and expression, he says the one artist who serves to motivate his own music is John Mayer. Other favorites include James Taylor, BB King, and The Beatles. He views Stevie Wonder and Prince as examples of artists who show their passion and personality in their music, explains Devin.
“Personally, my favorite feeling in the world is performing. It is a rush of energy, nerves, and adrenaline that is unlike anything else,” he explains. Not the average teenager, Devin has the confidence and determination of someone beyond his years. He began visiting local restaurants and wineries to introduce himself and ask for an opportunity to showcase his talent. This led to additional venues for him to begin to take his one-man show, Devin Thistle Music, in more and more places in Northern Virginia.
“I am so grateful to live in a community where there are people who value and respect music. Everywhere I go, I am surrounded by people who welcome me, and I could not be more thankful for that, as it has given me so much more confidence, not only in music but also as a person,” says Devin of the people he has encountered in Haymarket and other local areas where he has performed. While he knows how uncertain his future may be, Devin is certain he will be directing every part of himself towards a career in music and furthering his desire to speak to and inspire others through his songs.
Menzie echoes that feeling, emphasizing that Devin knows the hard work and dedication it takes to become a great musician, and he is more diligent at working on his craft than most his age. “But the secret in Devin’s success story is the joy you see when Devin plays on stage, he is irrefutably a natural, and even better, a terrific person,” says Menzie.
With a perspective that is sometimes hard to find in a person so young, Devin offers this when asked what he would tell kids younger than he about pursuing their talents: “Wealth isn’t a matter of the amount of money an individual possesses, but rather, it is a matter of how rich they are in happiness. Pursue the parts of your life that fill every part of your body with joy. It isn’t worth it otherwise.”
For more information on Devin Thistle Music visit his website, email him, or call 703-626-1046.