It is quite an honor to present this week’s featured Women in Entertainment artist, Manda Mosher, accomplished solo artist and member of CALICO the band, new mother and the true personification of the California country sound.
A sixth generation Californian and Angeleno. Mosher’s family first came to the City of Angels in the late 1800’s before establishing a chicken farm in the Valley in 1911. She grew up in a musical family that lived in the little town of La Crescenta, a sleepy and secluded community located at the foot of the mountains just north of Pasadena and east of Los Angeles.
She picked up her grandfather’s Gibson ukulele at the age of five. With her father playing flamenco guitar and her mother singing, music was truly an integral part of her daily family life. Mosher learned her father’s flamenco tunes from memory and quickly developed an ear for and interest in music. She spent much of her youth studying her parent’s musical library, reading Neil Young liner notes, all the while keeping her ear to the stereo speakers, listening to the likes of Bob Dylan, The Doors, The Beatles and Leo Kottke. As a result, writing and singing became a more natural form of communication than talking. “I found I would leave encounters thinking ‘I wish I would have said…’ and this would give me the impetus to sit down and compile my thoughts along with images and poetry and set it to song. This was and still is my most powerful form of communication,” Manda explains.
After high school, Mosher decided she needed a more serious place to study music, so she relocated to the east coast to attend the renowned Berklee School of Music in Boston. While there she honed her talents of playing guitar and piano, learned music theory as well as reading and writing music. She returned to Los Angeles after graduation, but learned that touring could also provide a good escape from Los Angeles when she needed it. ‘The best part of touring is getting out to realize how big the world is while making new connections with people you may never have met otherwise. Being on the road naturally puts miles between you and everything at home, bringing with it a new freedom that allows you to break your everyday routine and just live in the moment.”
Mosher signed with Red Parlor Records in 2008, after winning the Los Angeles Music Award for best Female Singer/Songwriter of the Year in 2005. Her first album, Everything you Need was produced by the great Guy Erez (Gipsy Kings, Ziggy Marley, Alan Parsons), and allowed Mosher to perform on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, as well as opening for, and singing with, Jackson Browne. “These were childhood dreams come true for me.” She followed these feats with a critically-acclaimed EP City of Clowns in 2010, leading to another Los Angeles Music Award for National Touring Act.
The title track was written about Mosher’s relationship with Los Angeles, which she describes as a love/hate sort of affair, as depicted in the song. Mosher admits she has often thought of leaving Los Angeles, but it is her family that has kept her here. “I’ve always felt sadness for this town. I’ve watched all these people come and go, taking what they can, getting famous, getting rich, with little regard for the community and the people that call it home. On the other hand the opportunities are endless here.”
In 2013, Mosher combined her talents with Kirsten Proffit and Jaime Wyatt to form CALICO the band. Right off the bat, the group started touring and performed more than 200 shows, leading to their selection as the Los Angeles Music Awards’ National Touring Artist of the Year. Wyatt left the band to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Aubrey Richmond, a world-class fiddler and the perfect complement to the band. Their first album, Rancho California was released in September 2014 on their own California Country label, and won Americana Album of the year for the Los Angeles Music Awards, as well as winning LA Music Critic’s award for Best Country Album. They have continued their hectic touring schedule, which included a stop at the 2014 Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California, where they were joined onstage by special Foo Fighter guests, Chris Shiflett & Rami Jaffee, as well as the 2015 Americana Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We’re very connected to a community of artists and venues that are flying the Americana flag,” said Mosher, “deeply influenced by the old scenes from the Palomino days, the Bakersfield Country sound from Buck Owens carried on by Dwight Yoakam, the sound of Gram Parsons’ music, Joshua Tree and more.” “We’re here to tell people that Americana music is very much alive,” said Proffit, “and California is a viable source for this style. We’re passionate about carrying on the tradition by incorporating these influences, but through a new lens, and always with respect.”
But what inspires Mosher? “Inspiration is an elusive thing to control . . . I often think thoughts that are the strongest push themselves to the forefront drowning out other thoughts forcing themselves to be expressed and written about in song. When an inspired song is coming it’s important to stop what you’re doing and allow it to arrive . . . the timelessness of a song trumps most any other activity that may happen in a day. Anything from spending time with a favorite guitar to a quiet setting can allow the space for inspiration to peak through.”
Mosher’s music has been featured on the Emmy Award-winning Venice The Series, while the music of CALICO the band can be heard on ABC’s hit series Nashville and NBC’s The Night Shift.
What are Mosher’s future plans? “What keeps me going is the need to always create something new that is evolved beyond what I’ve been involved with in the past, be it striving to reach new levels of quality in recording or performing in venues that bring a new challenge. We’re working on our second CALICO the band album which we hope to have completed by the end of the year and we plan to continue on with our touring adventures.”
You can learn more about this amazing artist and her band by checking out their websites and Facebook (solo and Calico) pages, following them on Twitter (solo and Calico) and subscribing to their YouTube (solo and Calico) channels.