- Associated Press - Saturday, May 24, 2014

MANSFIELD, Mass. (AP) - “I’ve been involved in music since I was born,” Jillian Hobaica said while sitting in her blue and green bedroom adorned with trophies, dolls and pictures with friends.

Hobaica, 15, sat on a stool next to her new guitar, microphone and keyboard piano, the black and white keys hidden by song sheets of her favorite pop and country artists.

But, one name stood out: her own.

The Mansfield High School freshman has been writing music since she was 10 years old, sometimes scribbling lyrics on the bathroom mirror.

Before her latest song, “Take it Slow” hit iTunes in January, Hobaica wrote down the song’s music notes to practice.

“I wrote ‘Take it Slow’ during the summer before eighth grade. At the time, I was only 13, and I hadn’t had any experiences with love, but I was listening to a lot of Taylor Swift and Adele, so I wrote it as a cross between those two artists,” she said.

But, she kept it quiet.

“Jill is low-key about it,” said Janice Hobaica, Jillian’s mother. “In fact, the only time we hear her new songs is when she sings them in public. She writes in private and then just kind of hits us with it.”

According to her daughter, that privacy stems from an intense stage fright.

After her family moved to Mansfield from Bridgewater, Hobaica was asked to sing the national anthem over the intercom at Qualters Middle School when she was in fourth grade.

“I had never really done any big performances. I had bad stage fright,” Hobaica said. “That was my first big Mansfield performance,” she said.

She got through it though, and did well, according to her parents.

Her next big performances at Qualters would come when she snagged an ensemble in ‘Oliver’ and as Mrs. MacAfee in ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ which earned her a best supporting actress nomination in the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild awards.

She didn’t win, but it was good practice for the Qualters Idol competition she entered in eighth grade.

She sang “Listen” from the musical Dreamgirls, and this time, she won.

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