It’s been a long and difficult journey for Philly songwriter and beatmaker, Able Heart. Before his song "Greenlight" was announced to be shared globally by the Jonas Brothers on Tuesday’s episode of "Songland," he was known as John Paciolla, the 15-year-old snowboarding sensation whose Olympic dreams were lost after a devasting back injury.
"It’s a blessing in disguise because writing and lyrics was a huge play in my recovery," Able told audiences during Tuesday night’s episode. "A well-written song can definitely save someone’s life."
Able didn’t speak much about his past on the show and has had difficulty revisiting it due to the trauma. However, he was able to speak to NBC10’s Lauren Mayk for an interview.
"I didn't hang around the best people and that kind of put me into a negative mindset," he said. "I just got wrapped up in the wrong things but I needed a change. You reach a point where you do feel alone, you know? The whole process. Everything feels like it's never going to end and there's only one way out. It's definitely a lie."
Able didn't just survive his addictions and unhealthy mindset, he used them to become a unique talent.
The rising star seemed to have years of stage experience when he pitched his potential hit record "Greenlight" but he shocked the judges, including the Jonas Brothers, Ester Dean, and Ryan Tedder when he revealed the performance would be his very first.
"First of all, I think you’re an artist because that was your first performance and it was amazing," Nick Jonas told him.
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Tedder, lead vocalist of the pop rock band OneRepublic, also shouted that he was "blown away" by the performance.
Able's "Greenlight" contains fast, flowing lyrics with an alternative turn; a popular sound in the past few years. Judge Ester Dean described the record as sounding like a "mix of Eminem meets Travis Scott."
"Don’t ever let anybody take credit for what you’ve done because you’ve got a star spark," Dean told Able.
Although his first performance was undoubtedly bigger than he could ever ask for, Able spent years developing and mastering his musical techniques and skills as a ghostwriter, a person who writes material for someone else who receives credit for the work. Tedder described ghostwriters as "the talent behind the talent."
"Songland" is in it’s very first season but is already opening doors for young artists who are hungry to be the next big thing. Able Heart’s emotional story is easily one of the series’ best so far. Now he's hoping it's only the beginning of a successful musical career.