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DALE FIOLA’S INFLECTION POINT INTO MUSIC AND LITERATURE 

When Dale Fiola entered high school, the school gave entering freshmen a music test. This involved administrators playing a series of musical clips and asking the students to recreate the pattern by humming or singing it. Given that Fiola possessed a strong sports and less of a music background, he was not placed into any musical classes. Later that year, his father brought a piano home on Good Friday. His brother expressed an interest in the piano and was provided piano lessons.

The following year, when Fiola was sixteen, he picked up an electric guitar and attempted to compose rock songs. As he says, “The music was, simply put, mediocre and uninspiring.” However, the piano’s presence in his home eventually drew Fiola to dabble with the keys. When Dale was seventeen, he would begin composing songs on the piano, which he says seemed “easy for him.” 

Years later, he would join the Men’s Glee Club at UCLA. Given his lack of foundation in choral music and a limited ability to read music, he struggled at first, but after applying himself, eventually sang in the Powell Hall operatic production of “Les Huguenots.” He entered the Frank Sinatra Scholarship competition at UCLA to test his talents competitively as a singer but that ended when midway through the song  the judges said, “thank you,” and Dale walked off the stage, his guitar strap trailing behind. It was at that moment Dale felt his hopes of an aspiring musical career were over.

For the next three to four years he concentrated on and pursued a career in law, ignoring music in its wake. He became a practicing California Attorney in 1977 and is still active in that profession. In 1980, his sister gave birth to her first child—and Fiola wrote the child’s baptism song on the piano. This experience—which Fiola calls his “inflection point”—made him realize that, while he couldn’t write rock music, he could write what he described as “halfway decent songs” for weddings, baptisms, funerals, birthdays, and anniversaries. Singers told Fiola that his songs were commercial, but family life and practicing law consumed most of Fiola’s time from 1988 to 2012, negating any recording or producing possibilities.

In 2013, he was preparing to try a major class action suit against a well-known financial institution when a settlement took place a week before trial was to start, clearing his calendar for the next month. With this free time, he decided to write a musical, which he called “Attention Whore.” He composed the music, wrote the script, and had it copyrighted in just 57 days. 

Fiola has since collaborated musically with writers and performers, such as Kevin Kasha, Crystal Starr, Skip Saylor, Damon Elliot, and, more recently, Mariel Barreda. 

“Collaboration is so important because it gets that creative thing out of one’s mind into the hands of others,” Fiola says, adding that those other people “have a different perspective of one’s working product” and can therefore “make the final product much better than one would have ever envisioned.”

With artistic influences such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Mitch Leigh, and Sheldon Harnick, as well as the band Queen and the late singer David Bowie, Fiola describes his music as ‘quite theatrical, but certainly not rock and roll.” Listeners, he says, generally describe his music as “intense.”

He has written and produced a movie called  “Caralique” that was released in 2023, and has written five books: The Devalued, The Disappearing WhY, Al-Law-Gory, Deliver Us From Beauty Amen and The Falsitudes.

Fiola says that his long-term aspirations are to reduce all his musicals to film; and, while his musical journey has had its ups and downs, it has helped him accomplish things he would have never thought possible in his legal career. He longs to bring a movie he worked on with Anthony Michael Hall called “Sugar Babes” back into production, and he hopes to see his project, “WitchStruck,” finalized into a movie by mid-2025.   

“After 10 years of writing, I enjoy the process so much,” he says. “It has given me purpose and value in an area I never had before; an area where I flunked a basic musical test at a high school entrance exam when I was only fourteen years old.”

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