A Chorus Line gets a new life at the University of Montana

I had just completed my sophomore year in high school when A Chorus Line first opened on Broadway in 1975, and truly fell in love with this Marvin Hamlisch/Michael Bennett classic when our glee club did a pair of its best songs, “One” and “What I did for Love.”  I could totally relate to the character of Diana, a Puerto Rican actress who, like many of us, just didn’t get improv.

When my daughter Grace was just two days old (in 1982), we took her with us for the touring company presentation of the musical in San Diego.  Although I have thought about the musical a few times over the years, I had all but forgotten its power until I attended the University of Montana School of Theatre & Dance and College of Visual Arts and Performing Arts production over the weekend.  It all came rushing back as my wife and I basked in the glory of this timeless musical.

Perfectly directed by John Kenneth DeBoer, who also plays the character Zach, with musical direction by UM alum John Knispel, UM’s A Chorus Line captured the essence and heart of the original production.  The show was wonderfully cast with a group of students that understood the story and presented it to the packed auditorium with all the wonder and pizzazz of the original Broadway cast.

With superb choreography by Nicole Bradley Browning and Heidi Jones Eggers, the simplistic but effective scenic and lighting design of Zack Aschim, Mike Monsos and Brian Gregoire, and the historically perfect costume design of Kersti Pearson, this show brought back all the positive memories of my earlier exposure and prompted me to sing along to every song.

Written before Hamlisch became a household name with his Oscar winning score for The Sting, the music of A Chorus Line set the bar for future Broadway shows, and propelled many of the songs, including “One” and “What I did for Love” into the pop music scene.

Even though A Chorus Line is a true ensemble piece, it still leaves room for some outstanding individual performances.  Among those in this production were Maria Miller’s portrayal of Diana, Carissa Marie Lund’s as Connie, Jourdan Nokleby’s as Sheila and the show-stopping performance of Colleen Reed Rosbarsky as Cassie.

Others who turned in memorable performances include DeBoer as Zach and Matt McDaniel as Paul.

The cast is so good they should consider taking the show on the road.  Everyone in Missoula should endeavor to catch one of this week’s closing performances on October 27, 28, 29, 30 or 31, all at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are available online through GrizTix or at the UMArts box office.  Don’t miss your chance to experience one of the most powerful musical productions ever written.

Darby Williams introduces herself with debut album “Me”

“Tall, blond, bodacious and sensual, newcomer Darby Williams commands the stage just as she commands her dynamic vocal range, with artistic creativity and a personal touch not often found today. Signed personally to Roc Cartel by label founder and President Ray De La Garza, Williams captures the essence and the nuances of perhaps the greatest collaborators in jazz history – Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.”

So begins the press release for jazz artist Darby Williams, which was sent to this reviewer by one of his sources, Deborah Radel, publicist and fellow indie music lover.  Come to find out Williams had recorded a duet with Grammy and Oscar winner Peabo Bryson, which has been released as a single to highlight Williams’ debut album, Me.  With this reviewer’s interest piqued, an interview was set up with Ms. Williams, and here’s how it went:

IV:  How did you hook up with Peabo?

DW:  My manager, Richard Flanzer and my label, Roc Cartel, set up the duet.  We are planning on touring all of my music at some point, but our primary focus is on the duet.

IV:  How did the album title come about?

DW:  My label chose the title “Me” as I am a new artist who they wanted to introduce to the jazz world in particular.

IV:  What makes the duet with Bryson so special?

DW:  The duet is very breezy and fun while the remainder of the album is a collection of Ellington ballads.  Most people are already familiar with those tunes so they wanted them to see what makes my music unique.

IV:  What was your training?

DW:  I started singing in church at the age of 3.  I always sang together with my her Dad, who loved jazz, so I turned into a jazz girl.  We’d get in the car and start singing to Sinatra and others and he’s still singing with me today.

IV:  What other jazz or music influenced your style?

DW:  The Ellington/Strayhorn swing songs were always my favorites but their ballads were what I loved.  They were challenging to perform but such a privilege to get to do them.  They are not easy to sing and emotionally impact me very deeply.  During the recording process, there were many times I would just burst into tears as the meaning behind the lyrics hit home.  This (recording music) is all very new to me and I feel very lucky to have this opportunity.

IV:  Why is recording music is so different?

DW:  It’s like Alice in Wonderland for me.   The whole process is very amazing.  I have two great producers, Jason Switeser and Flanzer, who are legends in the industry.   I’m being well taken care of and loving every minute of it.

IV:  How did the label deal with Roc Cartel come about?

DW:  I was introduced to De la Garza (the label owner) through a friend of a friend of my manager.  When De la Garza found out I was a singer, he was intrigued.  It went from there.  It’s kismet for a girl from Salem, Oregon to get this opportunity.   I subsequently moved from Salem to Portland but am now considering an apartment in NYC to expand my horizons.

De La Garza had this to say about Williams:  “Darby has such a diverse vocal range that her interpretation of these songs makes them relevant and accessible to everyone. We are looking forward to introducing this work to many who are not yet familiar with this legendary music, as well as, to those who hold a deep appreciation for these timeless classics.”

“Darby is a fantastic vocalist with command and range. I’ve sung with the greats and she’s more than holding her own,” added Peabo Bryson.

Williams is currently scheduling her tour to support her album, and hopes to include Europe and Japan on her itinerary.  Her album dropped in August.

Women in entertainment: Manda Mosher, California country personified

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.

Women in entertainment: Heather Jacks gives buskers a needed voice

Welcome to another beautiful Monday morning – time for another in our Women in Entertainment series.  This week the spotlight falls on Heather Jacks, author, journalist and music lover who is on a mission to share the magic of busking with the world.
Jacks grew up on an Indian reservation in southeastern Oregon until she was 15, when she was selected as the first ‘experimental exchange student’ to Australia with an organization called YFU (Youth for Understanding).  She spent ten and a half months with the program before returning to the States to attend the University of San Francisco.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at USF before going to the University of California at Davis for an additional two years. 
Since the 1980’s, Jacks has worked in the music industry in various capacities, including radio, production, A&R, booking and most recently as a music journalist.  She recently won a Book of the Year Award for her multi-media project, The Noise Beneath the Apple®, which was inspired by her love for street music, busking and the people who make it.
Besides her love of music, she is a certified TV junkie, an unapologetic Twitter practitioner and a SF Giants loving fiend.   She travels extensively, but continues to hang her hat in San Francisco.
As we do with all our articles, we asked Jacks what inspires her.  In typical journalistic style, she expounded on the subject:  “As a writer, I spend a lot of time online, researching, interviewing, refining and sculpting words, creating cadence and turning good writing into better stories.  I find this journey inspirational.  Still I make time to step away from the blinking screen to breathe in life and the world around me; to re-charge and renew.  At the risk of sounding like I’m writing a love letter, my greatest inspiration comes from the City I call home, San Francisco.  I love walking her streets, wandering aimlessly into shops, undiscovered nooks and crannies, taking guided walking tours, trekking the Coastal Trail—Karl Fog, keeping me close company.  I love stopping at dive bars, where I can get a barrel-aged shot of whiskey AND a can of Olympia at the same time.  I love all the staircases and stunning views that rise up to greet you in the most unexpected place.  I love that we have a baseball team, that no matter how great they do, are always considered the underdog, and they persevere in style.  I love that everyone here is a little weird, and that San Francisco is pretty OK with that.  In the end, I am inspired simply, by doing what I love most.”
Jacks has recently launched a crowd funding campaign on Rocket Hub for one of her new projects, a multi-media project similar to the “Noise Beneath the Apple” project, which is dedicated to the buskers of San Francisco.  Check out the cool gifts you get for contributing to the project by clicking here.
We asked Jacks to expound on her future plans, and here’s what she had to say:
“Currently I am working on TWO separate Coffee Table Books, showcasing and preserving separate pieces of San Francisco history. My earlier book, The Noise Beneath the Apple®, which celebrates the spirit of busking, aka; street performance, and was set in New York City, won an independent Book of the Year Award.  I am replicating that book in the Bay Area, with 25 amazing street performers spanning from Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Napa Valley, and of course, San Francisco.  The Bay Area edition, like the NYC version, will include film, music, stories and photos.
The second project is about The San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  The Sisters are a leading order of queer nuns, who began here in 1979 and are now a worldwide charity organization. They continue to devote themselves to community service, promoting human rights and outreach to those on the edges of society. They are an integral, (sometimes misunderstood), part of San Francisco culture. 
These two projects, along with my line of Vintage Vinyl Record Bags, (www.rockarecord.com), will definitely keep me very busy for the next few years!”
Street performers definitely have a friend in Jacks and the public truly benefits from this friendship, as we are exposed to amazing artists that we may not have known were out there.  Many thanks to Jacks for providing this service.  We wish her well in her campaign and look forward to seeing the finished project.
You can keep up with this amazing music supporter by checking out her Facebook page, following her on Twitter, Instagram, and Google Plus, and by subscribing to her YouTube channel.

 

Patricia Bahia’s resilience shines through her new release ‘Save Your Heart’

There’s been a lot of emphasis on achieving your ‘bucket list’ since the popular movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman came out in 2007.  But Patricia Bahia, whose sophomore album Save Your Heart drops on October 23, was already hard at work on her list before then.
Bahia debuted her new album during a CD Release show at the Monkey House Theater in Berkeley on October 15.  Los Angeles residents get their turn on October 25, when Bahia performs at the world famous Hotel Cafe’.
Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, Bahia discovered a desire to write songs during successful treatment for her disease.  Although she had been around music her entire life, she had never written a song before cancer tried to cut off her life.  Consequently, Bahia looked for help in fulfilling this bucket list item, and discovered Songsalive, a grass-roots songwriting organization co-founded by Australian Gilli Moon, who now lives in Los Angeles.
Bahia started her musical career as a soloist with the acclaimed Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, where she recorded with Linda Ronstadt, performed with Joan Baez and opened for Bonnie Raitt.
Bahia possesses a silky smooth voice that perfectly delivers her truth.  The message of her bucket list pursuit comes through clearly in this collection of songs, providing inspiration for others to do the same.  You can’t help but be uplifted and inspired by these tunes.  Although every song has a unique message, this reviewer was most impressed with the title song, “The Bridge That You Don’t Burn,” and “Every Day is a Gift.”  Speaking of the latter, the song was one of the winners in the 2015 Songs for Life songwriting competition and will be the opening song on the forthcoming compilation album.  Songs for Life is an annual music contest that supports cancer research.
Save Your Heart was produced by Bahia and Jon Hayes, and mixed by the legendary producer/engineer Bobby Owsinski (Neil Young, Willie Nelson) and mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer Erick Labson (Joni Mitchell, Ryan Adams) at Universal Mastering Studios in Hollywood, CA.  The album is being released on DreamSongs Records.
Besides working on her own material, Bahia has been hard at work collaborating with other local indie artists, including Sleep Machine, MILCK and Alisha Zalkin.  The resulting songs have been placed in several television shows and movies.
It is quite obvious that Bahia and her music have a mission:  “The healing power of music was a large part of my recovery and music continues to save my life everyday,” says Bahia. “I want to share that experience with as many people who need and want to hear it.”
Save Your Heart opens with the upbeat pop song “Resilient,” which describes Bahia “to a T,” and closes with the hauntingly beautiful ballad “Come Back to Me.”   “Resilient” was inspired by teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt and went on to receive the Nobel peace prize.  “Whether you’ve been knocked down literally or figuratively,” says Bahia, “this song is a tribute to you and your resilience.”

Bahia is a gifted songwriter with impeccable timing and amazing vocals.  Her music is an inspiration for others to follow their dreams, and will stay with the listener long after the last notes have faded. 

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.

Women in entertainment: Julie Neumark, an artist on the cutting edge

It’s another beautiful October Monday, and time to introduce our latest in the #WomeninEntertainment series, Julie Neumark, an artist who is on the cutting edge, not afraid to stand up for herself and what she believes.
Neumark grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television.  Once arriving in the Golden State, she lost no time in securing roles on Lifetime’s Oh Baby, The Gilmore Girls and various pilot episodes, as well as in the film Tattered Angel, which starred her childhood idol Lynda Carter.  She also appeared in numerous commercials and print ads.
After performing a song about an ex at an open mic night, Neumark reconsidered her artistic direction, and opted to pursue songwriting and singing.  It didn’t hurt that she was immediately offered a full spot to perform at the club the following Friday night.
Over the next three years, Neumark performed at every opportunity at venues throughout Los Angeles, including shows at the famed Hotel Cafe where this writer first encountered her.  Her perseverance and drive helped build a large fan base and landed her a manager and a full length album, Dimestore Halo.

Dimestore Halo was an album filled with the passion, fury, sadness and triumph of life, inspired by Neumark’s own coming-of-age story and the loss of her father to cancer in 2005.

Her record release party was held at a Italian restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard that had originally been the location for the studio where the Doors made L.A. Woman, their final album with Jim Morrison.  For Neumark, the location was perfect, as she epitomizes the true L.A. Woman – unafraid to stand up for her beliefs and driven to share her talents with the masses.

As a result of the critical acclaim for the album, Neumark was signed to Europe’s Hyena Records, which released Dimestore Halo in late 2008.  This led to Neumark being asked to support two tours for chart-topping indie rocker Beth Hart (“LA Song”) in 2009.

Lonesome Day Records also signed Neumark and released the album in June 2010 in the United States.  Neumark and her band supported the album during a tour of the southwest, including a stop at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas before returning to Los Angeles.

Despite advice to the contrary, Neumark chose to “come out.”   As a result, she won over a new fan base which respected her for her honesty and spunk.  She married Dr. Holly Lucille, a renowned expert on women’s health issues, who also plays bass in Neumark’s acoustic band and has toured extensively with her, when she’s not busy doing television talk shows herself.

What inspires Neumark?    “I have been most inspired by a quote from fellow indie artist Joss Whedon:  ‘Don’t just be yourself – be all of yourself.  Don’t just live; be that other thing connect to death.  Be life.'”

Neumark’s music also caught the attention of key music supervisors in Hollywood, leading to the placement of her song “Uncharted Water” in the indie film Steam, starring Ruby Dee and Ally Sheedy, as well as placement of the title track “Dimestore Halo” by ABC.

Since then, Neumark has released an EP, No More, in 2013, and has just finished her sophomore full length album, Giving Trees, which will be released in early 2016.

What are Neumark’s plans for the future?  “I recorded my upcoming album (Giving Trees) over the course of 7 months with the help of incredibly talented and generous people.  Being able to take my time and remain present throughout the recording process added a magical element that allowed a sparkly kind of joyful creativity to pervade.  I took with me one of the most impactful lessons of my life:  when there is no joy in your art, there is no art.  Always make room for the joy.”

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

Artists worth checking out: Brooke Moriber

One of the best things about writing a blog focusing on indie artists is the opportunity to check out amazing new artists and share them with readers.  Thanks to Jen Lyneis of Ue3 Promotions and Rick Eberle, Indie Voice is proud to share and recommend Brooke Moriber as this month’s “Artist Worth Checking Out.”

Born and raised in New York City (Manhattan’s Greenwich Village to be precise), Brooke Moriber is a singer/ songwriter known for her edgy pop tunes.  She got her start on Broadway at the tender age of eight when she was cast as young Cosette in Les Miserables.  Since then, she has performed in six other Broadway shows, including roles as Nadine in The Wild Party, Iola Stover in Parade and Lily in James Joyce’s The Dead, as well as guest starring roles on television and in the movies, including Law and Order: CI, Swift Justice, A Town’s Revenge, Off-Track Betty, Descent, and As The World Turns.  She also appeared on stage in Follies on Broadway and The Threepenny Opera, the latter with Cyndi Lauper and Alan Cumming.

In addition, she also premiered Randy Newman’s “Stupid Little Songs” in Seattle, portraying Randy’s first wife in The Education Of Randy Newman.  Moriber has been a featured performer on the Tony awards three times and recently performed in a tribute to Marvin Hamlisch at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park .

Not only can she act and sing show tunes, but she has her own style of pop music that is a cross between Amy Lee of Evanescence and Katy Perry.   The Associated Press credited her with having a “clarion voice” with an “immense vocal range.”

Moriber had her first material licensed to Nickelodeon when she was only 15.  Since then her songs have been featured on soundtracks for film and theater.  With her band, she has performed at such New York City venues as Pianos, The Cutting Room, The Knitting Factory and the Red Lion.  More recently, her performance at Revolution Music Hall was filmed for Verizon Fios’ Channel 1 where she was chosen as one of the artists to be featured on Rick’s Rising Stars.

Moriber released her debut EP Fire in August 2015, and has begun performing outside of New York City to support the release.  Last week she visited the Golden State to perform at Los Angeles venues Genghis Cohen and Room 5, where her shows were met with resounding success.

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

Cindy Alexander is one special American girl

The Hotel Cafe is the place to be on Saturday, October 10 when local Los Angeles indie artist Cindy Alexander debuts her latest spectacular creation An American Girl.
I believe David Lawrence, host and executive producer of Net Music Countdown said it best:  “Cindy is the personification of what it takes to be a superstar.  Her writing is insightful and poignant. Her stage presence is utterly unforgettable, and her musicianship is flawless. She also possesses that rarest of charisma that one cannot manufacture: she was born to perform.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, and despite being trained at the acclaimed USC School of Drama, Alexander decided to forego the acting world and focus instead on just being herself – a brilliant, witty and boisterous singer-songwriter whose songs have touched and affected the lives of everyone who has had the pleasure of hearing them.   Alexander’s songs speak of real-life events, allowing her audience to connect with and accept their inherent truths.
A seasoned writer and classically-trained performer, Alexander’s songs incorporate numerous subjects – not just the classic singer/songwriter confessional laments about dysfunctional relationships, marriage, and motherhood, but also her personal discovery and recovery from breast cancer, the perils of the entertainment business, classic literature, sexuality, spirituality, history and the human condition.   For Alexander, there is no topic which is off limits – she simply tells the truth about the highs and lows of life.
An American Girl, a five-track EP, is easily the best material Alexander has created to date.  A breast cancer survivor herself, Alexander has timed the release to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.  Despite her diminutive stature, Alexander has never been afraid to tackle real issues with her songs, and the four original songs on the EP are further proof of that.  To top it all off, Alexander adds her own take to the classic Tom Petty hit “American Girl.”
Despite winning numerous awards and a television reality show, Alexander has chosen to remain an independent artist.  She formed her own label, JamCat Records in 1999 and released five CDs (See Red, Smash, Angels & Demons, Wobble with the World and Every Rise and Fall) before partnering with Blue Elan Records for the 2014 release of Curve.  The partnership with Blue Elan has given Alexander better exposure while allowing her to remain what she truly is – an independent artist.
In addition to being a singer/songwriter/ recording artist, Alexander is a wife, daughter, friend, mother of twins, breast cancer survivor, advocate and Ambassador to BreastCancer.org, animal rescuer, avid reader, hiker, cribbage competitor, baker of OCD chocolate chip cookies, volunteer, and guacamole lover.
When asked what drives her to be an artist, she answered:  “What compels me to share my creativity is what I call the ‘life of song.’ It’s the journey from Inspiration, to a spark or current in my heart, to something that pours from my pen to paper, from my fingertips to my instrument, from within my body and out through voice…to the space between me and the listener and hopefully, into that listener’s heart, where it takes on an additional meaning, if not an entirely different one than I had imagined… And then perhaps, it’s shared with a random friend and the journey continues. That’s the life of a song.  Music is a connection, a healer, and it’s magic.”

Give a listen to An American Girl, as well as her entire musical catalog – we think you’ll agree that Cindy Alexander is a uniquely independent artist with plenty to share.  Don’t miss her EP release show at The Hotel Cafe on October 10.

For more information on this amazing artist, check out her website and Facebook page, follow her on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to her YouTube channel.  You can find her songs on Amazon.com and iTunes or listen to the stream on SoundCloud.

Alice Wallace is making “Memories, Music & Pride” with her latest release

Alice Wallace is set to debut her latest album, Memories, Music & Pride when she brings her SoCal Americana music to one of Hollywood’s premier venues, The Hotel Cafe’ on Friday, October 9.
Already recognized by the Orange County Music Awards (OCMA) with nominations for best country/americana and best live band, Wallace’s latest release should cement this rising star’s place as one of the best Americana performers in America, right next to Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin and Honeyhoney.
Co-produced by Kirsten Proffit of CALICO the Band and Steve Berns (who produced CALICO’s debut album), and released on California Country Records, a label created by Proffit and her CALICO co-founder Manda Mosher, Memories, Music & Pride is the perfect marriage between the classic and future sounds of Americana music.  In addition to co-producing the album, Proffit and CALICO bandmate Aubrey Richmond also provide backing vocals on the album.

According to Wallace, “This record is more cohesive, as far as style is concerned,” she says. “I like blues, I like folk, I like country. This one still touches on all of those. But with this album I feel like I was trying to bridge the gap between my influences in old-time country with newer artists like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell, whose albums have opened my eyes to what modern country can be.”  Wallace’s previous releases include 2011’s Sweet Madness and 2013’s A Thousand Miles From Home.

 All of the 11 tracks on the CD are originals, with the exception of Wallace’s cover of the classic 1935 Patsy Montana hit “I Want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.”  Montana was the first major female country and western solo singing star, and Wallace, who took up yodeling after hearing Jewel talk about the old country singing style on her early records, had to reach back to the style of such earlier yodeling recording artists as Montana, Jimmie Rodgers, and Slim Whitman for her interpretation of the tune.  “I’ve never done anything in the style of Patsy Montana, and I was trying to make it true to the original in a way.”
Every track is stunning, with Wallace’s amazing vocals bringing life to her thought-provoking lyrics and melodies.  Everything you like about Americana music is there – the emotions, the vocal range and the steel guitar combine to create songs that are instantly memorable and reach deep inside the listener to connect on a deeper level than most music being produced today.
Two songs that stand out are “Leave” and “If I Didn’t Win.”  You can literally feel the pain and the joy in these songs, with universal themes of loneliness, love and struggle.  Not only are they great songs to listen to, but they are also the perfect soundtrack for dancing.

Among the amazing musicians that play on the record are jazz-schooled guitarist Tom Bremer, who has worked with Wallace for the past five years; drummer Josh Huppert, another longtime band mate; multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Long, now the pedal steel player in Sam Outlaw’s touring group; and bassist Robert Bowman. Special guests on the album include Ted Russell Kamp, a well-known Los Angeles solo artist who plays with Shooter Jennings’ band and is a frequent guest player with CALICO, who contributes upright bass on the track “Leave.”

Wallace, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in St. Cloud, Florida, began playing guitar at the age of 10 but didn’t truly devote her time to music until she was 15.  Over the years, she absorbed a variety of influences, from her parents’  favorites like Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris to ‘80s and ‘90s country performers like Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, and Mary Chapin
Carpenter and singer-songwriters like Jewel, Alanis Morisette and Sarah McLachlan.
It was these songwriters that brought Wallace back to music:  “That’s why I picked up the guitar again and made a more serious attempt at playing and writing songs – I was so inspired by hearing female artists on the radio.”
Wallace and her family left Florida in 2008 and relocated to Fullerton, California.  By 2013, Wallace was doing music full-time, traveling across the country on the strength of her first two albums, and gathering material for what became Memories, Music & Pride.
It should come as no surprise that “A Traveling Song” (Track 8) was inspired by some of those chance companions on the American byways.  “I’ve spent the last two years getting used to traveling – usually by myself,” Wallace says.  “It’s definitely been a personal learning experience, dealing with being alone a lot, and the songs reflect that.”  In addition, some of the album’s most intimate songs – like “Rough Around the Edges” and “Ohio Boy” – are drawn from relationships that developed on the road.   Wallace continues, “Traveling full-time does not lend itself well to romantic relationships; the few that I’ve had have been temporary, and usually they end badly.  They make for good songwriting material, but I definitely look back and say, ‘All right, Alice, you should have seen that coming.’”
For more on this amazing artist, check out her website and Facebook page, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to her YouTube channel.  And if you’re lucky enough to be in Los Angeles, don’t miss her release show at the Hotel Cafe’ on October 9.

Future Women in Entertainment: Meresha brings a “New Revolution” to the indie music scene

Happy new (fiscal) year!  It’s time for another article in our Future Women in Entertainment series.  This month we feature 18-year old Meresha, an Alien-loving vegan singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and producer, who has plans to take over the world.  We believe she just may be destined to join the ranks of those artists like Björk, Beck, Gaga, Madonna and Cher who are on a first name basis with their fans.

While many artists talk about chasing their dream and following whatever path is laid out in front of them, most of them never leave their hometowns and cities and expect it all to come to them.  This is definitely not the case with Meresha. Born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, she was deeply influenced by artists such as Robert Plant, Joss Stone, Freddie Mercury, Björk, Hayley Williams and James Blake as she learned and honed her craft.  She and her family relocated to Florida when she was 15 so that she could pursue her music career.

Meresha is a trendsetter and became the first artist to launch an EP exclusively on the new social media site tsu, one week before it was available publicly.  She made videos with the CEO, prominent tsu users, the tsu leadership team as well as prominent charities ahead of the launch.

New Revolution is a four-track EP in the electronica and electro-pop genre.  The title track has already cracked the Top 100 and appears to be headed for the Top 40.   “New Revolution” is a celebratory song that Meresha hopes each listener will interpret to be meaningful for his or her own “revolution.”   It’s an upbeat song that was designed to get listeners to dance and sing along and was written and composed to lift spirits and simply have fun.   Explains Meresha, “I created this song as a celebration of the past, creation of the new and a respect of the classics.  But it really can be about many things and people can interpret it in many ways. It can be applied to music, innovation or even technology.”

Meresha wrote and sang every song on her album, as well as performing them  as a pianist, guitarist and drummer.  Her sound is described as a combination of a soulful voice with modern beats, and is truly unique.   That’s not just hyperbole, since the EP has already either won or been a semi-finalist in several global music competitions, eliciting praise from the music press and extensive global radio play.

For the “New Revolution” video, Meresha enlisted five-time MTV VMA nominee David Rousseau (Pitbull, Magic!, Enrique Iglesias, LMFAO, Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Wayne) to helm the director’s chair.  You can check out the results here.

For more information about this rising star, check out her website and Facebook page, follow  her on Twitter, and subscribe to her YouTube channel.  You can also listen to her stream on Spotify, Soundcloud and iTunes.

Once again, special thanks to Jennifer Lyneis of Ue3 Promotions for introducing me to this electrifying artist.