Local teen duo performs at the White House

Vandegrift sophomores Joey Painter and Anna Zavelson of the minor Keys group performed at the White House on Dec. 3.

By K. Q. THOMAS, Four Points News

The minor Keys, a music duo from the Four Points area, was selected to play a two-hour set at the White House on Dec. 3.  

Joey Painter, piano, and Anna Zavelson, vocals, are both sophomores at Vandegrift High School. Anna and her parents, Tracy and David Zavelson, live in Grandview Hills. Joey and his parents, Melinda and Jay Painter, in River Place.

To be considered for the White House performance, Tracy Painter submitted a video of one of The minor Key’s recent performances at Threadgill’s, the two musicians have been playing together since they were 9 years old. 

Out of thousands of applicants, they were selected by the director of White House entertainment to play a set of holiday and winter songs. 

“They had to put together a show of new material in a few short weeks, while Joey was competing with the Vandegrift band and Anna was competing at the Texas Thespian State Festival in Dallas,” Jay Painter said. 

Joey plays synthesizer in the front ensemble of the VHS marching band. He plans to pursue a degree in computer science in college, with a minor in music.

Anna is active in theater at VHS and is a member of Zach Scott Theater’s Elite Pre-Professional program. She was in the cast of “13 Reasons Why,” for Netflix and has performed with Andrea Boccelli and Tony Award winner Steve Kazee. She plans to earn a degree in musical theater. 

The two busy students managed to pull it all together just in time, and even rehearsed in D.C. prior to the White House show.

“We had a fantastic evening at the White House with hundreds of guests and an incredible host that took us all over the White House on a private behind the scenes tour,” Jay said. “Of course, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Joey was especially thrilled to play the White House piano, which was donated by Steinway & Sons co. in 1938.”

“We had so much fun and we’re so honored,” they posted on the minor Keys Facebook page after their performance. 

The teens started their musical career together after putting together a song to perform at the River Place Elementary Talent Show. They went on to win a local talent competition and within six months they had put together a set and were featured as an opening act at a club on 6th Street.  

Since then, they perform whenever and wherever they can, including the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians Benefit Day, J.W. Marriott, the Tiniest Bar in Texas, Threadgill’s, the Hyatt Regency, and local spots such as the former Boat House Grill and the Ski Shores Cafe.

“One of their favorite gigs has been performing at the ‘Starbuck’s Songwriters Series,’ where they only play original material,” Jay said. 

Typical shows are two hours long, with two sets of about 15 songs each. “They play everything from classics to pop songs from artists like Adele, Lady Gaga, John Legend, Tom Petty, Sam Smith, Nina Simone and Frank Sinatra with originals mixed in,” Jay added. 

They just booked their next gig at Threadgill’s on Friday, Dec. 27 from 7 – 9 p.m. and the event is free to the public.

Vandegrift sophomores Joey Painter and Anna Zavelson of The minor Keys group performed at the White House on Dec. 3.
Joey Painter, piano, and Anna Zavelson, vocals, are both sophomores at Vandegrift. They performed at the White House earlier this month.