Rising NJ Artist: Tony Newbury

by Will Rittweger
On Route 9 | Photo by A-Rod2UP

Born and raised in Howell, NJ, artist Tony Newbury has steadily climbed the ranks of New Jersey’s music scene, from hosting a concert at a local firehouse, to winning showcase competitions, to his latest performance, a headlining show in Brooklyn this past March. Blending hip-hop, alternative, and pop music, Newbury has amassed over 500,000 total streams across platforms. The sound of his productions are often upbeat and melodic, while his lyrics primarily focus on his Central Jersey upbringing and lofty aim of inspiring other people to realize their dreams. 

Nicholas Lorenzo chose the stage name Tony Newbury because it most authentically reflects what he stands for, and oozes with his identity. “Tony” is the name of his uncle, an older brother figure who passed away when Nick was 11 years old, and “Newbury” is the name of the street Nick grew up on. He was raised in an Albanian-American household surrounded by aunts, uncles, and his grandparents, however, his father’s Italian heritage strongly influenced his upbringing. From an early age, Newbury was drawn to Italian-American musicians from New Jersey such as Hoboken’s own: Frank Sinatra

The first manifestations of Newbury’s lyrical proclivities were poetry— a pastime he often kept between him and his mother, a key figure in his life. Of his mother’s influence, he said “without her perspective, I don’t think I’d be able to have my feet on the ground while flying so high.” Although he was fortunate enough to be surrounded by guiding role models, Tony found he had to carve out his own path. At 17 years old, when seeking a form of self-expression, he stumbled upon music. “Music was something I loved and was always there for me,” Newbury recalled.

In 2018, Tony created his first music video and on New Year’s Day, 2019, released his debut EP, Misunderstood, slingshotting himself into the beginnings of a career. When asked about boxing his musical style into a genre, Newbury said “I’m confused as to what it even is. Some days I feel like it’s hip-hop rap. Some days I feel like it’s alternative hip-hop. Some days I feel like it’s pop rap. I’m just trying to create it and it’s probably going to go down as suburban rap when it’s all said and done. I don’t know what else to call it. It’s music to me.”

At The Saint | Photo by Illillily

At The Saint | Photo by Illillily

Over the next two years, Newbury went on to throw his first show at a local firehouse, place third in a qualifying showcase, win first place championship in a showcase event organized by Concert Crave, perform at other showcases in Brooklyn and Toronto, and release two more projects, Lonely In The Summer and Suburban Rap Music. Some of his biggest accomplishments thus far came during the turbulent year of 2020. A self-taught artist, Tony shared that “I make music for people that want to express their authenticity. I make music for people that haven’t found the right words to explain what they’re feeling.” 

One of his biggest inspirations is Russell Vitale, a.k.a. “Russ”, a notable hip-hop artist also from New Jersey known for his perseverance. Similar to Russ’ career model, Newbury adopted the approach of being patient, hustling consistently, and organizing shows whenever he can. When asked about his steady career ascent and grassroots following, Newbury said “it’s about the work versus the attention. I’ve realized I care more for the music than the attention I get from it. I don’t want to leave and move to Los Angeles. I’m building something in Jersey and I’m proud to have built my own thing so far. I want to accept what I’ve built, not neglect it, because I always wanted to do my own thing.”

At The Sultan Room | Photo by Juan Casanova

At The Sultan Room | Photo by Juan Casanova

From 2021-2022, Tony released two more projects, Westwood and Over 21. He also hosted his first headlining show at House of Independents with DJ Stev, and opened up for Camden rapper Mir Fontane at The Saint, both in Asbury Park, NJ. Additionally, he started volunteering at The HUBB Arts & Trauma Center in Newark, NJ, where he provides underprivileged youths his first hand tutelage of musical production. Of the experience, Newbury said “it’s cool seeing something being built from the ground up that means a lot to the community.”

When the subject of inspiration entered the conversation, Tony was quick to rattle off some of his favorite artists. He said he models his path after musicians like Russ and J. Cole. Regarding his creative spark as a hip-hop artist, Tony spoke highly of J Dilla, commending the artist’s sampling abilities. Sampling is a practice where producers transfer segments of pre-existing music, often from another artist, into their own musical productions. Newbury revealed that “sample culture has an obvious influence on my music.” He continued, saying “sampling lets you take music you appreciate and turn it into your own thing.” To Newbury, J Dilla was the quintessential example of an underground hip-hop artist who produced music for and influenced some of the more impactful mainstream artists we know of today like A Tribe Called Quest and Common.

Speaking of other inspiring artistic figures, he proudly admired the “smoothness” of Frank Sinatra and Billy Joel’s “honest sounds made by a kid from the neighborhood who loves music”— a description that also fits Newbury. His first CD was Queen’s Greatest Hits, and other albums that struck him as a kid were The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Christopher Cross’ eponymous album, Christopher Cross. And while Newbury’s music has a more modern sound, his love for the classics inspires much of his catalogue.

Not even halfway through 2023, Newbury has already sold out SModcastle Cinemas for the March premiere of Newbury Road, a 16-minute documentary short film detailing the dawn of his recording career. Then, he performed his second headlining show at The Sultan Room in Brooklyn. After the show, a listener stopped and related to Newbury that one of the unreleased songs he performed, titled Route 9, is the name of the same highway where he is constantly driving to and from work. The evidence of his Central Jersey roots are laid out all across his lyrical catalogue. Another song title that rings a bell with fellow New Jerseyans is Bud Light And Wawa Trips. In reference to the Garden State, Newbury commented “Musically, if everyone keeps doing what they’re doing, it can become an epicenter. I think New Jersey is arguably the most creative state. It’s not shown yet because we have the reputation of being an entertainment state.” He is a musician that is all about Jersey.


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Describing his trajectory, Newbury said “I’ve experienced a lot of independent success that has not led to mainstream success. I haven’t gotten the right person to see me who could take me to the next level yet.” Accompanying him throughout the years are Newbury’s parents and creative group of friends. He describes his manager, Nino Liverani, as “someone who will consistently go to war to build what I’m building while also building what he’s building.”

At House of Independents | Photo by Federico A. Tejada

At House of Independents | Photo by Federico A. Tejada

Self-doubt and self-belief are recurring themes that exist throughout his lyrics. Constantly trying to provide others with inspiration, Newbury often talks about the many important people in his life who have helped him reach his current position. The support that Newbury has accrued since his humble musical beginnings is something he aims to pay forward. He says “what inspires me is when people tell me that they’re inspired by what I do, that seeing what I create has meaning and value.”

In May, Tony plans to perform at Bowery Electric, release his latest song, Route 9, and provide a music video alongside the tune. He said “I can’t say that there is a single song that I have that isn’t me.” For where first-time listeners should get acquainted with his music, he advises people to “start anywhere. It’s all an equal chance at getting to know me.” Tony Newbury’s message to all listeners, for die hard fans or those just passing through is “just keep going.”

All Smiles | Photo by Ethan Brooks

All Smiles | Photo by Ethan Brooks

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