Women in entertainment: Tiffany Phillips, inspirational quadruple threat is all pro

Happy Monday.  Now that we’ve all survived the Super Blood Moon, let’s take a look at our next Women in Entertainment featured artist, Tiffany Phillips, actress, dancer, singer, comedian and inspiration to all women, especially those of color.

After receiving a full scholarship, Phillips left her hometown of Apple Valley, California at the tender age of 17 to attend the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.   After graduating, she wasted no time in landing roles in Off Broadway shows as well as traveling as part of several national theatre tours.   She also became a member of the renowned Negro Ensemble Company and National Black Theatre, where she performed on the main stage.  Her national tours included Beehive, the 60’s girl group musical; Sweet Charity; and More Magic, the Motown review starring Florence Larue of The Fifth Dimension.

When she was 19, she became the youngest singer in the Motown Moments at New York’s Motown Cafe, singing the hits of the Supremes, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas and much more.  Among the Motown legends who attended her performances were Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, as well as the one and only Mohammed Ali.

Disney cast Phillips in the role of Princess Kibbibi in their musical Festival of the Lion King staged at Walt Disney World ‘s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.  She also hosted shows on the ABC Soundstage and Superstar Television, as well as performing at special seasonal events.  During this time she also appeared in numerous national commercials and began her string of guest starring roles on network television, including a run as the co-host and on-air announcer for Nickelodeon’s Double Dare 2000.

That run continued when Phillips returned to the West Coast, where she secured roles on such diverse shows as Charmed and Mind of Mencia, as well as several independent films.  Phillips expanded her reach when she starred in several critically-acclaimed plays, including Diary Of A Catholic School Dropout and Jesus’ Kid Brother at the Theatre Rows’ Hudson Theatre, and Soldier’s Don’t Cry and Girls Of Summer, for which she received rave reviews.

This love of theatre prompted Phillips to create the female sketch comedy troupe BoomChickBoom that garnered the attention of Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Robert Townsend, who later became producers on the project.

Disney came calling again and Phillips was chosen to be the on-camera spokesperson and host for their Up and Bolt national tours.  She still found time to make the rounds as a stand-up comedian, gracing such comedy landmarks as The Comedy Store and The Laugh Factory.

In 2010, she returned to her vocal roots when she became the lead background vocalist for Michael Bolton’s “One World One Love” tour.

Tiffany wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed one-woman play I Never Met a Jerk I Didn’t Like,” which debuted at the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival and went on to become the highest grossing solo show in the 30-year history of LA’s  Whitefire Theatre, as well as selling out Off-Broadway theaters in New York City.

What inspires Phillips?  “I am inspired by quotes from a diverse range of artists.  Among my favorites are “A woman who walks in purpose doesn’t have to chase people or opportunities. Her light causes people and opportunities to chase her;”  “I’m so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I’m saying.” (Oscar Wilde); and “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.” (Marianne Williamson)

More recently, she has co-starred on The Soul Man with Cedrick “The Entertainer,” performed on Comedy Central’s Workaholics and just completed filming the movie Chocolate Is Not Better Than Sex and the new web series Under The Radar with John Wesley and Cleo King.  She has also made several appearances as a guest on HLN’s The Daily Share, as well as an upcoming co-starring role on ABC’s Scandal.

What are her plans for the future?  “I’m currently turning my one woman show into a novel and am in the process of writing a comedy web series.  I definitely want to get my show up again and would love to tour it because the message is so relevant and universal.  I’m also looking to start a non-profit for teen girl providing self esteem workshops and mentoring.”

For more information on Tiffany Phillips, check out her Facebook and iMDB pages, follow her on Twitter and Instagram or subscribe to her YouTube channel.

Women in entertainment: Connie Lim, gifted lyricist and musician

Paige Nichols lights up the indie world with “Burn”

Captive.  Enslaved.  Held hostage by the very thing you desire most… Love. What happens when that passion you can’t live without turns too volatile to endure? What do you do when the object of your affection is the source of your
anguish? How do you stop the incessant cycle and break free from those binds, when even your heart betrays you?”

These words are the inspiration behind Paige Nichols‘ new crowd-funded music video for her unreleased single “Burn,” a dark and haunting twist on the beloved fairy tale “Beauty & the Beast,” which explores the Stockholm-syndrome phenomenon plaguing a woman chained to a love that’s grown too tumultuous to control.

“We knew we needed a unique and striking story to portray this very special song,” said Nichols. “Sometimes fires grow so big they can’t be extinguished. That can also be true in a relationship, which sometimes just has to burn itself out. And, it was our responsibility to give the fans something incredible.”

Nichols is speaking of the countless supporters across the country who contributed to funding the production and release of the video via Kickstarter.
“Burn” was shot at the San Encino Abbey in Los Angeles, a fitting fantasy backdrop for the video, complete with a quaint cathedral and chilling catacombs.

To contrast the stone stronghold with elegant, opulent style, Nichols’ fashion team looked no further than Albright Fashion Library L.A., dressing her in both Dolce & Gabbana and Nina Ricci gowns.

“Something about seeing this gorgeous girl trapped in a dark, dreary dungeon, and belting out this emotional power ballad just gave us chills on set,” said producer Jacob Burch. “We all knew something magical was happening.”

A songstress since before she could speak, this singer/songwriter who blends powerhouse vocal prowess with crowd-captivating music and lyrics has been described as a “…Sara Bareilles-esque songwriter with a sound that
is both soulful and spirited. Think Grace Potter with a healthy dose of Stevie Nicks.”

Nichols is joined on the song by the uber-talented and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jacob Luttrell.  Luttrell brings his ultra-smooth and unmistakable voice and presence to both the single and the video.  Luttrell is currently also featured on Zedd’s latest track, “Done with Love,” and was responsible for several other current Top 40 hits including “I Don’t Like it, I Love It” by Flo Rida featuring Robin Thicke and “Marvin Gaye” by Charlie Puth featuring Meghan Trainor, as well as past hits “Wild Ones” by Flo Rida featuring Sia and “Tonight (I’m Loving You” by Enrique Iglesias.

The video was directed by Jacob Johnston, Visual Development Producer at Marvel Studios.  Johnston wrote and directed his first short film Kadence, which was an official selection at both Indiana’s Mayday Film Festival and California’s Idyllwild Film Fest, where it was nominated for Best Director and Best Featurette.

The video was produced and edited by Jacob Burch, producer of Disney/ABC Domestic Television‘s nationally syndicated entertainment news program “On The Red Carpet,” and debuted on BreathHeavy.com on September 10, 2015.

To find out more about this amazing artist, check out her website and Facebook page, follow her on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to her YouTube channel.

Danny Click returns to “Hold up the Sun”

Long time alt-country superstar Danny Click has returned with a new album, Holding up the Sun, which was released on September 18, 2015.  If you are a fan of blues-driven country rock artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Stevie Ray Vaughan or vintage rock acts like Creedence Clearwater Revival (“CCR”), then Click’s new album is a must.

For many years Click was Austin’s best kept secret, playing in the background and earning the respect of many of alt-country’s biggest superstars.  All that changed in April 2011, when Click released his album Life is a Good Place, which propelled him into the national spotlight and garnered him the recognition he so richly deserved.  The album spent more than 12 months on the charts and spawned two singles, “Wait My Turn,” which reached #1 on Nashville’s Indie World Country Chart, and “I Feel Good Today,” which topped out at #14 on the New Music Weekly national Country chart along side such greats as Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift.

Click’s new album, Holding up the Sun, reinforces the fact that Click is one of the best alt-country artists of this century.

“Broken,” the first track on the disk, pays homage to CCR and sets the tone for the rest of the album.  From the first notes of guitar, to the Bruce Hornsby-like piano to his John Foggerty-esque voice, Click’s first track brings the promise of greatness that infuses this new album with a breath of fresh air that is so needed on alt-country radio today.

The trend continues with the second track, “When You Cry,” which also brings forth those amazing lyrics that Click has become known for, and reminds this reviewer of another legend, Dwight Yokum.

Track three, “Eva Jane,” with its exquisite acoustic guitar background, is a haunting song with a sound similar to Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane.”  It’s wailing guitar riffs and those background vocals make this one of the most memorable tracks on the album.

I could go on and on about each and every track on this CD.  Trust me when I say that every single one is amazing, making this album one of the absolute best of 2015.  The title track, a beautiful ballad sung as a duet, especially demonstrates this fact, with lyrics you can sink your teeth into, two amazing voices and an acoustical soundtrack that while easy on the ears also gets the toes a-tapping.

Some of the credit for this amazing album definitely lies in its production by legendary producer Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Rolling Stones, Wilco, Lucinda Williams, among others).  Scott has created a tight sound that will stay with you long after the last notes of “After All,” the final track on the album, have ended.

Click, now a resident of the San Francisco Bay area, has built a large and passionate fan base that includes musical greats Carlos Santana and Elvin Bishop, both of whom have joined him on stage for impromptu jams.  With his band, The Hell Yeahs, Click has played more than 200 sold out shows over the past two years, including opening slots for such legends as Taj Mahal, Cake, Robert Plant, Mavis Staples, Sonny Landreth and JJ Cale.

In 2014, Click became a regular guest at Grateful Dead legend Phil Lesh’s club, Terrapin Crossroads, which led to the recording of Danny Click & the Hell Yeahs! – Captured LIVE.

Check out Holding Up the Sun – I guarantee it will make you a fan.  And also check out his website and Facebook pages, as well as follow him on Twitter to learn more about this amazing talent.   You should also check out his video for “Baptize me Over Elvis Presley’s Grave” on YouTube.

Thanks to Jen Lyneis of Ue3 Promotions for the background information.

Undesirable People set for release of “Eternal Vision of a Blind Future”


Direct from the Motor City, Undesirable People are set to release their first full-length CD on September 22, 2015.    The band previously released three EPs (Undesirable People, Eugenics, and Former Self/Current Self) before hooking up with producer Marc Jacob Hudson and Rancho Recordo.

Composed of Mark Vincent (vocals and bass), Brian Fraser (guitar), Caleb Sanchez (guitar), and Jon Lebiecki (drums), the quartet deliver an album that harnesses their own angst and mistrust of the current music business in a style very reminiscent of Nirvana and The Ramones.

The band released three of the tracks (“All we Want is a Proper Burial,” “We’re all cut From the Same Cloth,” and “Cosmic Man”) as singles in advance of the CD release date.  Of the three songs, “Cosmic Man,” which was released on September 8, is the strongest tune.

For the audiophile, the true star of the CD is the music, not the message.  The riffs are hot, the beat is steady and the overall vibe is strong and melodic.  Unfortunately, some of the lyrics are rather simplistic and interfere with listening to the otherwise well written music.  However, for their target audience, which are obviously members of the Millennial Generation, the songs should deliver a direct hit.

The strongest tunes on the CD are near the end, beginning with Track 8, “Cutting Down the World Tree,” and continuing on with Tracks 9 and 10, “Let me in/Lock me Out,” and the aforementioned “Cosmic Man,” respectively.  Those three tracks more than make up for any perceived deficiencies in the rest of the disc.

For more on the band, check out their website and Facebook page or follow them on Twitter or Instagram.

Thanks to Michelle King and Noisy Ghost PR for the background materials.

Claire Holley’s “Time in the Middle” is time well spent

Long-time folk artist Claire Holley has created a gem with her latest offering, Time in the Middle.  If you love alt-country/Americana artists like Patty Griffin or Lucinda Williams, then this CD is the perfect choice for you.

Holley grew up in Mississippi but now calls Los Angeles her home.  Although she is new to this reviewer, she is not new to the industry, as she has seven previous albums to her credit.  According to her publicist, Holley wanted her new album to be more than just a folk album.  If that’s the case, then Holley has surely succeeded.   Holley’s influences on this album range from Bob Marley to Van Gogh, coupled with the traditions and sounds of her southern roots.

The record was recorded at Sonic Temple studio in Ferndale, California, located a few hours north of the Bay Area, and co-produced by Dan Phelps, a multi-instrumentalist that Holley credits with “infusing the songs with electricity and vitality.”  Phelps has worked with artists ranging from Tori Amos to David Wilcox.  “Dan merged music to lyric so intuitively and naturally that I didn’t even realize what he was doing until months later when the songs were mixed,” explained Holley.

One of the things that sets this album apart from so many others is that the entire team (Jonathan Kingham (organ, piano, co-writer and producer); Martin Woodlee (engineer, mixer) and Phelps (guitars, drum, bass, Moog and piano) camped in the guesthouse during the recording process.  This led to a true camaraderie between the musicians and crew and an organic feel to the music.

The record begins with an amazing cover of a Bob Marley tune, “Three Little Birds.”  “I came up with this guitar riff that I really liked and needed ready made lyrics,” explains Holley.  “On a whim I just tried singing Marley’s lyrics with this music.  The recording came with an ease that I can’t explain but am grateful for.”

The next tune, “Traveling Saints,” implores its listeners to “dance like you never have before,” and is a tribute to residents of the Crescent City aka New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  “Boat of Dreams” has a soothing dreamy melody with compelling lyrics about searching for what lies beyond, and is one of the best tracks on the CD.   It is followed by “Heat of July,” a song that honors Holley’s dad in a classic country song with a sound reminiscent of Deanna Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.”

“Love in a Bowl” combines zydeco, Dixieland jazz, a blistering guitar riff and sassy lyrics into a fun song that reminds this reviewer of the Beatles hit, “Sgt. Pepper.”  The obvious pop influence continues on the next track, “How you Fly.”

The lyrics for the next tune, “Kudzu” were lifted from a poem by Beth Ann Fennelly called The Kudzu Chronicles.  Holley comments: “I love the spooky textures Dan (Phelps) made for this track.  It’s like some mosquito humming in your ear.”

The title track returns to a big piano sound as Holley gives us a beautiful love ballad that is airy and smooth similar to her earlier track “Boat of Dreams.”  The next two tunes, “Bones” and “Be Still” offer up rockier sounds than any of the other tracks.  “Bones” was used in the indie film Child of the Desert, while “Be Still” is Holley’s answer to that song that returns to the simply perfect sound of Holley’s voice and an acoustic guitar before giving way to a simple drum beat and the wail of the electric guitar.

The album closes with “Saturday Sale,” which describes the experience of sifting through a box of forgotten attic treasures and reliving those memories, and is a perfect ending for the record, which will surely be remembered by its listeners.

For more information on Holley, check out her website and her Facebook page,  Thanks to Kim Grant at KG Music Press for the background materials and for turning me on to this amazing artist.

Women in entertainment: Alisha Zalkin, fearless front woman

Happy Monday – it’s time for another edition of the Women in Entertainment series.  Today we will spotlight Alisha Zalkin, a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the lead singer of the popular rock band Sleep Machine,  which was recently featured by Entertainment Weekly.
Alisha was brought to this reviewer’s attention by another Women in Entertainment member, Laura Goldfarb of Red Boot PR in June 2014, after the release of On This Road, which was reviewed by Examiner.com.  This reviewer was so impressed with the EP that he attended a live performance in Los Angeles later than month, which resulted in Alisha’ first live review.
In addition to the attention given to Alisha by Examiner.com, she was also named one of the eight break-out artists of 2014 by AXS.com and was the recipient of two 2014 LA Music Critic Awards:  Best CD for On This Road and Best Music Video for the album’s single, “Fearless.”
AXS.com had this to say about Alisha:  “San Diego may have been her hometown, but Los Angeles is falling in love with Alisha Zalkin.  What sets her apart from other singer/songwriters is her heartfelt passion for social change and her willingness to set an example for others to emulate.  Her ballad “Fearless” has set the standard for social change and become an anthem for those fighting oppression and social stigma.  Alisha is well on her way to becoming one of Los Angeles’ biggest stars in 2015.”
It seems that the writer at AXS.com nailed his prediction in this case.  Since December 2014, Alisha has become the lead singer for Sleep Machine, a hard-rocking LA indie rock band which is quickly coming to national attention.  The band has already received placements for their music on several national shows, including The Fosters (ABC Family) and Younger (TV Land), in addition to a commercial for the upcoming ABC drama series Quantico.  The band’s single “Wild for You” was featured by Entertainment Weekly in their TV Jukebox feature.
What inspires Alisha?  “I’ve always been one to find inspiration from music that comes from a pure place, regardless of genre.  I’m inspired by well-written songs that are delivered with purpose.  Anything that reaches out and grabs my emotions.  Music and emotions go hand in hand.  My emotions inspire my music and the music I listen to influences my emotions.”
Where does Alisha see herself in the future?  “I’m currently playing around town (LA) with my band Sleep Machine.  We will be releasing a music video for our song, “Game Over,” from our debut EP Cover me in Gold.  We are also in the process of putting together our second EP.  In addition, I am working on a new solo record, writing and recording for a new folk project, and working as a session singer.”
It is just this kind of work ethic that has propelled Alisha into the spotlight, and promises listeners that good things are still to come for this impressive artist.  To keep up with Alisha, check out her website and Facebook page, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to her YouTube channel.
Thanks to Laura Goldfarb for the background information and for turning this reviewer on to this amazing artist.


Women in entertainment: Camille Bloom, international troubadour

Welcome back to our Women in Entertainment series, which previously ran on Examiner.com.  We are so glad to be back and to be able to post here on Indie Voice.  You can expect a new article in this series every Monday.  Today the spotlight falls on Seattle, Washington based singer-songwriter and international troubadour Camille Bloom.
Born and raised in Washington State, Camille Bloom attended Eastern Washington University and began her career as a high school English teacher in her hometown of Seattle, Washington.  Her love of the English language grew into the skill to craft  songs with truly dynamic and vivid lyrics, and ultimately to Camille’s decision to leave her teaching job and become a full-time touring musician.
Since beginning her musical career, she has played some of the most premier venues in nine different countries:  Canada, United States, Germany, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland and Iceland.  With a voice that can ‘purr and wail’ and utilizing her percussive and finger-picking skills on her guitar, Camille has shared the stage with artists like Smashmouth, Metric, Chris Isaak, Shawn Mullins, The Weepies, and many more. 
In fact, during the past nine years, Camille has completed more than 30 national and/or international tours, while her music has been added to over 250 major and college radio stations throughout the United States and Western Europe.  She charted on the European FAR (Freeform American Roots) Charts in 2009 with other music greats such as Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and Iron & Wine.  
In her “spare time,” Camille gives back to her local community by directing a Kid’s Rock Camp for the children in Seattle, Washington.
But what inspires Camille?  “My biggest inspiration is life.  Life experiences, pleasures, pains, politics, societal issues.  Life; all of its beauty and complications.”
And life has been pretty good for Camille.  Not only is she sponsored by Gibson Guitars, but in 2012 Music Connection Magazine distinguished Camille in their annual Top 100 Unsigned Artists compilation.  Her most recent album, Never Out of Time, was chosen as one of the Top 10 Indie Releases by the Los Angeles Examiner. 
What are Camille’s future plans?  “Right now, I am crowdfunding for a new album that I plan to record this fall. I am leaving it up to my fans which kind of album it will be, depending on how much we raise. I am shooting for enough budget to record a full band record with producer, and publicity etc – which would cost around $52,000 but we will determine our budget after fundraising ends on Sept 15th.”
If you want to help Camille with her fundraising efforts, go here and click on the button next to the perk you would like to receive.  If you’re not looking for a perk, you can also make a charitable donation to the campaign.
For more information on Camille, check out her website and Facebook pages, follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her YouTube channel.