It’s the time of year when Spotify and Apple Music users look forward to the apps revealing the artists, songs and genres they’ve listened to most and the statistics that surrounded them in 2022. But search for an artist less familiar, and you might find a new voice to appreciate: a Kalamazoo College student reaching new audiences and achievements with her first album.
Isabella Pellegrom ’25, from Eagan, Minnesota, has produced and released Nomadic Tendencies, a 10-track collection of her vocal talents. Spotify describes Pellegrom as a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter, who pulls inspiration from indie pop, soft rock and jazz, while embedding her own voice. As a storyteller, she hopes to find truth and unite others around her. The album reflects a journey of self-discovery and self-love to highlight the idea that everyone builds a wall and runs away only to return and appreciate the people who matter most in their lives.
That theme of running away followed by an inevitable return helped her realize the moment she finished writing the song Nomadic Tendencies that it would be the title track of her album.
“It was one of the first times I’d just written a song from front to end all in one go,” Pellegrom said. “It was cool to talk about this person who tends to go everywhere because they can’t really find their place. It worked because I realized it correlated to the story of this person throughout the album who is constantly going to new places, whether it’s for better or worse. She’s meeting new people or finding out more about herself, and so has these tendencies to always move around. I liked it because at the very end, it comes back to I’ll Come Home to You because she eventually finds out that her home is with the people who have always supported her.”
Pellegrom first discovered her love of music and singing when she was about 6 years old.
“I have an older sister and she had given me her old MP3 player,” Pellegrom said. “It had maybe 15 songs on it, and by the end of the first week I had it, I knew every lyric to every song that was on it. I sang along to them and pretended I was a little pop star. I loved it.”
Yet over the years, she became not only a vocalist, but an instrumentalist through guitar, saxophone and piano, and a songwriter whose talents and shared messages have grown with her.
“It’s funny to look back at the songs I first wrote because, when I was 10 years old, I would write and sing about things like fairy-tale princesses,” Pellegrom said. “It wasn’t anything that had to do with what was happening in my life. I would like to say I’ve improved since then. I’ve joined choirs, I’m in band (Academy Street Winds) at K now and I did jazz band in high school. I also just recently got into acapella (the student group Limelights) where I’ve learned to arrange music, which has helped me put together and break apart songs. Music is a huge part of my life and it’s nice that I’ve kept it separate from what I hope to do with my career. In that way, it’s allowed me to take off some pressure and just do it because I love it.”
While boating on the Mississippi River one day a couple of summers ago, Pellegrom’s family voted on which town they would stop in to find dinner. The decision turned out to be fateful.
“My mom and her friend, who had this little café, were just eating, when all of a sudden, the café had this live artist,” Pellegrom said. “The artist was Tim Cheesebrow, and my mom knew I wanted to get back into playing guitar. She was wondering if Tim taught lessons and he gave us his card.”
Pellegrom spent those lessons working on songwriting and collaboration.
“He helped me with my songwriting by saying that a lot of times it’s good to keep a continuous theme or have a main message,” Pellegrom said. “It was helpful because I ended up finishing a lot of my songs for those lessons. It was the first time I got to collaborate with someone in terms of songwriting. Through these lessons, I eventually had about 13 songs that I thought were great together. Tim also has his own at-home studio and he’s been producing music for a long time.”
Pellegrom recruited some fellow musicians, pared her songs to the 10 that worked best together, and produced Nomadic Tendencies at Cheesebrow’s studio.
“That’s what I spent the majority of my summer doing the year I came to K,” said Pellegrom, whose parents, Jeffrey ’88 and Mary ’88, also attended K along with a grandfather and some of her aunts and uncles. “I got help from other local musicians for the baselines and the drumming. Tim helped me out with the guitar and walked me through the whole process of what it takes to release it. It all felt like a fever dream at the time and it still kind of does. It’s now out in the world and I’m really proud of it.”
Pellegrom conducted a launch party at a sports bar near her home in Minnesota and performed to rave reviews in the nearby town of Pepin, Wisconsin. She has plans to release a second album, although when is not yet decided as she tries to balance an intended biochemistry major and music minor. Medical school is a possibility for her, too, one day. Yet in the meantime, she will enjoy the success of releasing Nomadic Tendencies.
You can hear Pellegrom’s music on all streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music; she performs covers on YouTube; and you can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. Her website is IsabellaPellegromMusic.com.
“I love it when people listen to it,” Pellegrom said. “The best part is realizing that I released it for me. I don’t really have any expectations for it. I don’t need for something to come from it. I just felt it was time to release it. I was ready to put this project that I’m really proud of into the world and move on to other songs and other projects. In terms of my goals for it, the main goal was to release it and hope that people who listen to it can enjoy it.”