Bob Leggett has been involved in the music business for the past 20 years, including promoting and discovering bands, and hosting concerts at venues in Los Angeles. He has also covered the indie music scene as a reporter and music critic. His articles have appeared in such publications as Music Connection Magazine, Orange County Register, Riverside Press-Enterprise, Associated Content, Examiner.com and AXS.com. He spent five years each with the Orange County Music Awards (OCMA) and the SoCalMusic Live Awards, the latter of which he created and ran. He has since founded the LA Music Critic Awards, which are handed out twice a year. This background allows him to bring an insider's knowledge to his writing. He launched Indie Voice Blog in September 2015, which covers all forms of independent artistry with a focus on music and theatre.
April is finally here and spring is in full bloom. Here in North Carolina where the sky is always Carolina Blue, half of the state is in mourning after those Tarheels finally ended the reign of Coach K, whose Blue Devils are a deeper shade of the State’s favorite color. One of our favorite indie artists is also a lover of blue, and we are happy to be able to share her brand new single, along with four other singles and five new videos. Let’s get this party going.
If you’re a fan of this blog, then you know which artist is a fan of blue. She always requests her fans to show up in their favorite blue and bring their crew, and she has become even larger than life since leaving San Diego for Nashville. Her fan base continues to grow and we are proud to feature her new single, “Sha La La Love,” this week. Thanks Alyssa Jacey for another amazing song, including some very interesting rap.
Our second single comes from another Nashville artist who is ready to truly take his rightful place on the country music charts. We haven’t featured him enough in our blog, but with the release of his new future mega hit, “Staying Over,” we believe the time is right to get on this train. Take it away Sam Grow.
We featured Diana Rein a couple of weeks ago, and she’s back with another awesome blues tune that’s ever more “Reckless” than her last one. Give it up for the Queen of Blues. We will never get tired of hearing more from you.
We head back to California for the release of “The Waiting Room” from LA iconic pop artist BINX. Of all the songs we have featured from her in the past, this one is our new favorite. Put this one on repeat and enjoy the sunshine.
We close out our singles this week with another future country hit, this time from Megan Wilder, an artist beginning a new chapter in her musical journey. “If I Knew” says what we always wish we could say, and deserves your full attention. Turn it up, listen carefully to the thoughtful lyrics, and heed her advice.
NEW MUSIC VIDEOS
We kick off the music video section of our Monday Mashup with the premiere of the lyric video for “My Reason,” the first single from the forthcoming album by one of Southern Rock’s greatest groups, the Sam Morrison Band. Turn this one up and grab a cold one as you enjoy this incredible ballad which is chock-full of beautiful photos from the band’s fanbase.
Next up is an upbeat and memorable tune from Aviators, courtesy of Tarsier Records. They may be “Actin’ a Fool,” but their music is no joke. Enjoy this one.
We have a pair of new videos for you that talk about coming out of the pandemic and the isolation that affected so many of us. First up is Cenza, who became “Unhinged.” We love how she transforms into iconic screen actresses as she progresses through the song.
On the other side, Carissa Johnson felt like a “Tourist” in her own life. We give kudos to both artists for sharing their vision.
We wrap up this week’s blog with a band that sounds a lot like Chasing Cars, and their songs are equally as memorable. They have a sweet mellow sound that is reflected in the video treatment for their single, “Running Away.” Give it up for German band JONAH.
It’s our last mashup for the month of March, and we are so proud to have shared some great tunes this month. It’s also my final day off before starting my new job tomorrow as a shift lead/assistant manager at Wendy’s. It has been a very productive down time, and we finally got to do something we haven’t done in more than a year – attend a live performance. We drove out to Warrenton, NC to see our dear friend and platinum-selling songwriter Jason Adamo perform at a cool place called Locorum Distillery, along with Jeremy Burns and Pressley Free. What a fun night. We’ll have more about that show later in the post. So let’s get going with this week’s Monday Mashup, as we share these five new singles and music videos.
We first met Jason Adamo when he was represented by Laura Goldfarb and Red Boot PR more than 10 years ago. We were instantly blown away by his soulful voice and amazing musical skills. This was before he wrote a platinum tune for then relatively unknown country artist Brett Young, and the rest, as they say, is history. Adamo has gone on to host a weekly Homegrown Carolina Country show on FM radio station QDR (94.7), which has featured local NC artists, including current breakout star Priscilla Block. Adamo has continued his amazing growth as an artist and recently recorded a cover of an unreleased track from Delta Rae called “Whatcha Thinking Bout Baby.” He is donating the proceeds to the American Cancer Society in memory of his mom and countless others that have been lost to this disease. We think you’ll love it as much as we do, and we hope you’ll support this amazing charity by buying the song.
Next up is the latest from the delightful Rachel Farris, who we have previously featured here in our column. She is a breath of fresh air in the indie world, and we really love her new song, “Down to Earth,” and its call to protect our environment. Get inspired.
Speaking of great causes, our next single is about mental health, and features the one and only Nicole Boggs & the Reel. The words are deep and mighty and need to be heard. Please help everyone who suffers from this disease as they go through their own “Existential Blues.”
Our fourth single comes from another of the amazing artists we have been exposed to courtesy of the Durango Songwriters Expo. This artist goes by the name Arielle Eden, and her latest is “Signs and Signals.” This one should be played on repeat.
Our final single this week comes from two sisters based in Houston, Texas. You’ve probably seen the barrage of sponsored posts on Facebook offering a free autographed copy of their current album. I admit I never clicked on those links, but after hearing their latest, I wish I had. Their harmonies are dreamy and they have hooked up with another of my favorite female duos, Honey County, to record “Like Home.” These ladies have got the goods. Definitely check out Wild Fire.
NEW MUSIC VIDEOS
Our first video this week is another incredible song about empowerment from an artist who has become synonymous with that term, the one and only MILCK. Let’s take back our “Power” and show the world what that means.
Our next video is from a band we have not featured in a while, but one that is packed with immense talent. Check out “Time Won’t Take our Times Away” from The Claudettes.
One of our favorite venues in Los Angeles started out as a little hole in the wall that became the launching point for the careers of such diverse artists as Raining Jane, Sara Bareilles, Colby Caillat and more. We’re talking of course about The Hotel Cafe. One of the artists we discovered there is Heather Bond, and her latest release, “Fate,” is proof of her greatness. Check out this beautiful live performance of that tune.
We don’t feature many instrumentals in our column, but this one is just too good not to share. We have loved Joe Taylor since we first met him through our work with Ue3 Promotions, and we are definitely ready for “The Drive.”
We close out this edition of Monday Mashup with the new song from The Lickerish Quartet. “Fortunately” is definitely a feel good tune that deserves multiple plays. Turn it up and enjoy life.
Happy spring. Just like the changing of the season, my time with Speedway has come to an end, and I will be starting a new job next week. In the meantime, let’s enjoy these new singles and music videos.
First up this week is the latest from Blue Elan Records musician Colin Devlin. Given the state of war in the world, this one is particularly timely, although it is a remake of a classic Rusty Young song from the Blue Elan tribute album My Friend. Here’s Devlin’s take on “Regret.”
Our second single is from one of our favorite groups, whom we have featured numerous times in this blog. Not only are they multi-talented musicians, but they are also gifted lyricists and know how to say things that will make you think and take action. Give it up for “Chitter Chatter” from Carly and the Universe.
Next up is the latest from Denver Blues goddess Diana Rein. In times like these, sometimes we just need to “Drift Away.”
Single number four is from one of Los Angeles’ most prolific songwriters, Jen Waters. Her new album, Fate, is being released tomorrow and we are proud to share the title track. Enjoy her wisdom and incredible voice.
Our final single this week is from the incredible indie artist known as John West, who has been Lost in Japan since 2021. He has returned with an admonition to “Slow Down,” and we think that is excellent advice.
NEW MUSIC VIDEOS
We kick off this week’s music videos with this beautiful and heart-warming song from Canyon City. We love the sentimentality of “Castle,” and encourage you to stop and listen to its message.
Another LA band we have featured extensively in the past is the power duo named Dauzat St. Marie. Their latest lyric video is for their hard-hitting song, “Time to go Home.” We think it is one of their best to date. Let us know what you think.
It seems like it’s not a new week unless we have something new from Ponderosa Grove to share. This band deserves a national spotlight, and their new video for “Changin'” may achieve that for them. Enjoy the beauty of the cinematography and the incredible sound of the voice of lead singer Candace Devine, as well as some of the finest harmonies in music today.
Our next video brings back memories of bands like America and CSNY, with vocal harmonies, folky sensibilities and just plain good fun. We are happy to share “Safe House” by Trout Fishing in America with you. Hard to believe they’ve been performing for 45 years, and this is our first introduction to them. We think you’ll also become an instant fan.
We close out this week with the premiere of the latest lyric video from Life.Church Worship, the place I called my church home when we lived in Oklahoma. Their latest is called “Grace Upon Grace,” and is one of the strongest songs they have written. Let the calmness of the Lord wash over you as you listen to the words.
It’s almost spring, and amazing new music continues to burst forth in this beautiful post-Covid time of reconnecting to the rest of the world. We have some amazing tunes for you this week, so let’s get started.
First up this week is the latest from the multi-talented band called Ponderosa Grove. Not only are they creating great music, but their lead vocalist, Candace Devine, is producing the Pure Imagination Festival in their hometown of Prescott, Arizona. They just added the legendary Wynonna to their already amazing lineup. The music of Ponderosa Grove is so refreshing and we really think their latest, “Changin,'” will become your theme song. Give it up for them.
Next up are two sisters from Nashville that call themselves American Blonde. Their music is radio ready and their latest, “Blackwater Creek,” is the perfect vehicle to truly launch them into the mainstream. Watch for these guys to take country radio by storm with their brilliant storytelling and pitch-perfect harmonies.
Jackie Lee McLean may be the daughter of a legendary American musical icon, but she has earned her place in the industry through self-reflection, strong relatable lyrics and memorable musical compositions that connect her to the rest of the world. On stage she goes by Roan Yellowthorn, and her latest single, “One Tear at a Time,” is a remake of the classic Rusty Young (Poco) tune for a special Blue Elan Records project honoring Young’s music. Check out the entire album.
MILCK has become the voice of empowerment for women around the world, and her latest, “Power,” is further proof of his place as the Queen of Empowerment.” Bow down before her majesty and rise up into a great new beginning.
Our final single this week reminds us of the power duo of Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. This song will leave you laughing and crying at the same time, as Julia Cole and Alexandra Kay tell us about the “Best Worst Ex.” It’s no wonder Tim McGraw chose Kay to open up his next tour. Catch them in concert this summer.
NEW MUSIC VIDEOS
Our first music video this week is a heartwarming and uplifting country tune from Bryan Lanning, who extols the value of letting your children grow up at their own pace. We think “Let ‘Em Grow” will become a theme song and source of inspiration for new parents.
Next up is the latest lyric video from Canadian band Ellevator, who we have featured before. We love the driving beat and the powerful lyrics of “Sacred Heart” and think you will too. Enjoy the latest from this stellar group.
Our third video features Canadian R&B artist Myles Lloyd in a powerfully moving video about living life called “Down Under.” This one is worthy of your attention.
Paloma is a 14-year old phenom whose music shows maturity way past her years. Listen carefully to the words of her latest, “Momma,” and we think you will see the future of music.
Our final video this week is a bluesy classic from Sandy Haley with a message that should resonate with women all over the world, “Love me Right or Cut me Loose.” Man up and heed the message.
Hard to believe it’s March 8 and this is our first Monday Mashup of 2022. Spring has arrived here in North Carolina and our weather has been reminiscent of California, with temps in the 70s and 80s, trees budding and flowers blooming. We have a rare day off and thought it might be nice to share some of the amazing music that is bursting out everywhere. Here are five new singles and music videos that have inspired us recently.
Our first single this week is from a long time friend who, like many of us, has been going through some difficult times over the past few years. We first encountered Alyssa Jacey when we were living in California, and have always been inspired by her fire, her way with words, and her positiveness. Her latest, “See me Cry,” shows a new chapter emerging in her truth, and we are so excited to be able to share it with you.
Next up is the latest from iconic LA indie artist BINX, with her haunting lyrics and delicate instrumentation of “Ghost.” This one will stay with you long after the final notes are struck.
Our third single this week is from the sultry fiery redhead named Nina Storey. We have been fans of her for a very long time, and we think her latest tune, “Falling,” is her absolute best to date. The lyrics stir up our emotions and inspire us to make ourselves memorable. Sit back and “fall” in love with the voice and talent of this amazing young lady.
We switch gears for our next single, shifting over to the iconic blues sound of Brigitte Purdy. We are totally in love with her powerful vocals, and totally agree with the sentiments expressed in her latest, “I Just Want to Make Love to You.” We think you’ll feel the same.
Our final single this week is a breathtaking ride through the world of Alexandria Corn. She writes about familiar truths in such a way that you will never forget them. Listen carefully to the words of “Back Together Again” and reflect on the sweet sentiments of the song.
NEW MUSIC VIDEOS
Our first video this week comes from former Home Alone actress and new blues queen Diana Rein. Her compelling lyric video for “Fake Love” will move you and reasonate with your own past experiences. Check it out.
Moving on to South African pop star Cara Frew, experience the power of “Electric Feels.” This one will get you up and moving on.
Our third video takes us back to the blues/rock sound of Fred Hostetler and features Eric Troyer. “Wall of Dreams” is a visually stunning capture of this song, and definitely worth multiple listens.
We don’t normally share videos from major international artists, but this one is just too good not to share. The music of The Snake Charmer is electrifying, combining the best of Celtic and Indian cultures. Check out “The Foggy Dew” and we think you’ll be hooked for life.
Our final video this week is from the amazing collaborative group Ponderosa Grove, featuring our friend and former client Candace Devine. The band has been busy building on their recent success of opening for the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and lay it all on the line with the lyric video for their awesome tune, “Freedom Ride.” Hop on board.
With the release of his infectious, rockin’ new single “Too Far Gone” and his upcoming debut album Songs from the Reading Room, Arun O’Connor offers a powerhouse showcase for “Kiwi Country” and a primer on just how vibrant, soulful and kickass country music is in his native New Zealand.
On a more personal level, the multi-talented singer-songwriter–who’s been on the scene in the country’s Southland (southernmost) region for 15 years (or about half his life), he’s continuing a dynamic family legacy that includes his dad, Southland Rock n Roll Hall of Famer Dave O’Connor and three older brothers who played drums.
In addition to leading the popular cover band Small Feet for the past 11 years, O’Connor has built a stellar reputation as a session and touring musician and musical director for internationally renowned New Zealand country greats Jody Direen, Kayla Mahon, The Heartleys and more. O’Connor is also a three time nominee for Southland Entertainer of the Year (winning the award in 2020) as well as winning the 2018 Southland Musician of the Year Award.
The singer’s recent success as a solo artist – and discovery of his latent songwriting talents – happened serendipitously as a result of his sweeping triumph at the 2018 Gold Guitar Awards, where he won the Senior Overall Award as well as the Open Vocal Group, Senior Male Vocal, Senior NZ Song and New Country Category award. The prize package for winning for Senior Male Vocal for his rendition of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” was, as he says, “more of a career starter than a cash prize, a new guitar and kudos.” He earned the opportunity to record a single in Nashville with Jay Tooke, former drummer of the country band The Steel Woods, who has become one of the most sought after producers in Music City for indie artists. There was only one glitch that might possibly impede a productive two week first time visit to America and some great sessions with some prominent Nashville cats – O’Connor, for all of his years of accolades and gigs as a performer, had never written an original song. Drawing on a lifetime of experiences and keen observation of the lives of family and friends, he took to the craft naturally, emerging with the killer country-blues and vocal harmony laden ballad “Following the Line.” In addition to over 132,000 Spotify streams, the track hit #2 on the NZ iTunes Country charts, #3 on the NZ iTunes Overall chart and #11 on the official NZ music NZ Hot New Singles chart.
The singer scaled even greater heights with his follow-up single, the rollicking, original “Let Go of My Heart,” whose instrumental tracks were recorded in Nashville while O’Connor tracked his vocals and guitar back home. The song went to #1 on the NZ iTunes Country charts and #3 on the NZ iTunes Overall charts. O’Connor wrote a whopping 16 new songs from October 2020 to March 2021 to lay the foundation for his Tooke-produced, Nashville and New Zealand recorded (due to COVID travel restrictions) full length debut album Songs from the Reading Room. The collection’s title is a riff on a private joke stemming from a kid in his grade school class who was dragged from class to the “reading room” next door to be reprimanded. Though he assesses much of his personal and observational songwriting as laid back and somewhat dark and melancholy in nature, his choice for lead single, “Too Far Gone” is one of those classy styled songs featuring happy up-tempo music contrasted with poignant, hard-hitting lyrics.
“I wrote this song with Nashville songwriters, Ryan Sorestad, Brittany Knott & Taylor Nash over a zoom call during lockdown here in NZ. The song was then recorded in Pentavarit Studios Nashville using members from bands such as Eric Church, Brothers Osbourne, Colbie Caillat, and Randy Houser. I recorded my parts in Auckland’s well-known Roundhead Studio, owned by Crowded House’s Neil Finn. It is being promoted by Ue3 Promotions in LA, Grass Roots Promotion in Nashville & Suzie Says in NZ,” explains O’Connor.
“Too Far Gone” is a song about the mistakes we make in life, all the bad choices that lead us down the roads we don’t want to go down. It is a song that will hopefully make us question our own intentions and reevaluate what is most important in our lives. Maybe we deserve that second chance. Maybe we can change and be the person we had always set out to be. “Too Far Gone” speaks of a seemingly never-ending cycle of mistakes and regrets but with a stubbornness of not wholeheartedly wanting to change.”
Growing up in the small city of Invercargill at the southern tip of New Zealand’s south island, O’Connor’s musical sensibilities were shaped not only by his dad and brothers, but also by the American country music his parents played – Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, etc. Fascinated by the musicianship of The Eagles when he watched their classic “Hell Freezes Over” performance, he was inspired to be the one kid in the family who, instead of drums, chose guitar, which he began playing at age 11. By 15, he was playing weekend pub dates, weddings and corporate functions. While pursuing his musical endeavors, he worked a few day jobs ( wool room laborer, mechanic’s apprentice) but the combination of his skills and diversity (bass, electric and acoustic guitar, singing) quickly led to a full time career, both leading bands and working as a sideman for others, most prominently Jody Direen, who opened for Kenny Rogers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, LeAnn Rimes and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery in NZ and played at CMC Rocks, Australia’s largest country music festival.
“After so many years making a living playing with other artists and singing cover songs, it’s definitely been a challenge to perform my own material for people,” O’Connor says. “It’s honestly something I never expected to do, and I am so grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, not only with streams and chart success, but from fans who come to see my shows. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to share my new-found passion for songwriting with everyone.”
We think that O’Connor may well be the next big international country star. Check out his Spotify page for more great tunes.
As the former lead singer of the NYC indie band The Chordaes, Leo Sawikin brought their songs to life. But only now on his debut solo project does he allow the music to strip away the layers of his own life and show the world what an awesome life it is.
Sawikin is an old soul, one who would have thrived in the prime of the Tin Pan Alley days—tirelessly composing beautiful ballads in rooms with open windows for the music publishers whose offices lined West 28th Street in New York City. Although the city still swells with the sounds of ghosts past, the music landscape has drastically changed. Now more than ever, Sawikin finds himself longing for the days that were.
For the past decade, Leo has steadily evolved his sound, spending hours both in the studio and in writing rooms, culminating in Row Me Away—his upcoming fourth album, but the first to be released under his own name. The new record was produced by Grammy-winning producer Marc Swersky and mixed by Tony Black and Seth Von Paulus.
Prior to the pandemic, Sawikin recorded a string of anthems that seem to foreshadow life as we experienced it over the last year. Questioning whether the dystopian future we’ve all been fearing had arrived, the songs chronicle the vastly changing world, a society teetering on the edge, and the transformative power of hindsight. “It’s about letting go of the past to carve out a new future,” says Sawikin.
Like many artists, Sawikin uses his music and songwriting as his primary way to connect with the world. Since very young, he was described as having Non-Verbal Learning Disability. But because it has not yet been included in the DSM and presents in various ways, it is often overlooked and misunderstood. In Sawikin’s case, it affected his ability to receive and interpret non-verbal forms of communication. “I have always had trouble paying attention to people’s non-verbal signals. I understand them as well as anyone, but my thoughts are very scattered so I often miss them.” By the age of 5, he was getting into trouble at school. This was eventually tamed by medications, but they had a numbing effect on his mood and ability to connect with peers. At age 9, he picked up a guitar and by 12 he was immersed in workshops and music camps, where he found that songcraft came naturally. It’s proven to be his greatest strength and has become the catalyst for living his life off medication.
“Music has always been my secret weapon to combat this. It brings me to a place outside of all of my problems, and the dream I have is that when other people listen to it they will be brought to that same place. In that space we all share, none of our differences matter and understanding one another is as effortless as the sound of the music traveling through the air. My goal in life is to bring as many people to that place as possible.”
We were fortunate to feature his music video in our Monday Mashup column back in August. Now that we have had the chance to review the entire album, we stand by our original thoughts: “If the voice behind our first music video of the week sounds familiar, that’s because he was formerly the lead singer for The Chordaes. His name is Leo Sawikin, and his song is entitled “Row me Away.” We adore his voice and wish him well in his solo career. We think it will be incredibly successful.”
Each song on the album is strongly and beautifully constructed, with lyrics that reach down and directly connect the hearts of the listener to the creator. These tunes are enduring and should be heard over and over again until the words sink in. All ten tunes are memorable, but we think that the title track, “A Whole World Waiting,” All Just a Drop,” “You Love Too Much,” and “Tell me There’s an Answer” contain the message that is at the heart of the album – you are not worthless, but of immense worth, so don’t give up until you bring that light within out where the world can see it.
With the release of Row Me Away Sawikin hopes to bring comfort and consolation to listeners as we all witness the unfolding of a new world. We think he has truly succeeded in his quest.
It’s been a crazy month in the retail business, and we apologize for not bringing our weekly column. We hope this special “video only” play list will make it up to you. Check out these amazing videos.
In case you didn’t hear the big announcement, Indie Voice Blog has launched the Indie Voice Music Critic Awards. You can get details by clicking here.
First up is a throwback video with some serious 60s/70s vibes from our favorite Oklahoma couple, The Imaginaries, who are currently on tour. “You Already Know” is authentically staged with a sound that will last for generations, and we really dig this one. Let us know what you think.
Next up is one of Nashville’s hottest new acts, the sister duo known as American Blonde. This song should be their breakthrough tune on country radio and we think we’ll be seeing much more of them. It’s very easy to get lost in the “Quicksand” of this one.
Our third video this week highlights that all important of every morning – “Coffee.” Brought to you by the creative minds of Megan Nash & the Best of Intentions, this one requires repeated plays to fully comprehend the ties between the song and the video. Are you up to the challenge?
Are you feeling overwhelmed by this pandemic? Let the words and images of South Africa’s pop queen Cara Frew lift you up out of the quagmire and “Rise.”
Our Canadian friends Ellevator are back with another great tune, which is garnering critical acclaim world-wide. Check out “Charlie IO” and we think you’ll agree – this band deserves a world-wide audience.
We start off our second five with the latest from one of LA’s most unique bands, the amazing husband and wife duo known as Lovers & Poets. Their new song has a great vibe and beautiful lyrics, so check out “Ready to Fall.”
Next up is an acoustical masterpiece from the sweet songbird known as Sonja Midtune. With the timely title of “October,” this one is perfect all year round.
Video number eight is from a voice that has been bringing great music for more than 40 years. Although best known for his duties as the lead singer for America, Gerry Buckley is an accomplished solo artist as well. Thank you to his wonderful label, Blue Elan Records, for this amazing video collaboration.
Speaking of Blue Elan Records, here is the latest video from another of their amazing artists, The Vegabonds. We think it sums up how a lot of us feel today, “Can’t Deal.”
We close out this week’s article with this beautifully done travel video from our New York sweetheart, Katie Costello. She is truly worth all the “Silver & Gold” in the world.
There is something beautiful about artists whose insight into the human condition allows them to create – some might say, divinely channel – works that perfectly meet the moment in time when we most need their inspiration. Though Oklahoma-based twin sisters and multi-talented singer/songwriters Jacy and Jana Ayers – collectively known as indie pop/rock duo Lavendine – wrote new alt-pop single “Here To You” from a personal empowering experience of breakthrough after a deeply challenging and traumatic time, the infectious, vocal harmony-driven track offers up exactly the hope and optimistic spirit we all need moving forward through and past this anxiety-ridden pandemic era.
We first introduced you to this amazing duo back in September of 2020, and they have only gotten better. They have the most perfect harmonies and their lyrics truly touch the heart in a way that is unheard of in today’s pop music.
Lifting their dreamy, soulful vocals over a jangling guitar vibe and mid-tempo pop/rock groove, Jana and Jacy share what it’s like to open up to the proverbial light after too long in the darkness: “Opened up a window in this heart of mine to see what’s going on outside/I never dreamed I would be so surprised.”
The chorus, which we will no doubt be singing along with for awhile, is the perfect fusion of the duo’s heartfelt personal emotions and a universal call to unshackle the chains of malaise and realize that life can not only be good again, but maybe even better than before. They sing: “It’s time to tell the new day, it’s good to finally see you/It’s time to tell the heartache, you’re not mine, go away/It’s to find the reasons to smile. . .see the good that’s been around me/Don’t you see the change in me…”
“Here To You” follows Lavendine’s impressive success with several singles from their debut album Feel My Way. Their signature song “Rapture” hit both the Mediabase AC Top 25 and BDS/Billboard AC Top 25 and #1 on the Mediabase AC Independent Artist-Song Rankings. The track had 250,000 feature insertions on Adult Pop radio digital streams in multiple major markets across the U.S. Before that, their single “Maybe I Might” hit the Top 30 on the Mediabase AC and BDS/Billboard AC charts, and “You Can’t Change My Mind” reached #36 on the Mediabase AC chart. The national buzz around these tunes also led Lavendine to be featured in the Artist Spotlight on the Jim Brickman national radio show.
As women of deep faith, Jana and Jacy’s lives are inspirational testaments to the power of never giving up on life, love and musical dreams no matter the trials thrown at us. Jana and Jacy wrote “Open Up A Window” to claim a hopeful victory over a traumatic series of extreme health setbacks that might have derailed most people. Not long after releasing Feel My Way, both were deathly ill from the after-effects of root canals, later explained to them as a possible allergic reaction to the metal instruments used. Both felt heavy flu-like symptoms for several years. Attempts at implants were rejected. At one point, the infection got so bad that they went to Baylor University Medical Center to get both jaw joints replaced.
These issues were on top of previous medical problems Jana and Jacy had experienced as they were working as an esthetician (Jana) and hairstylist (Jacy) while working diligently on developing their artistry and overcoming the many obstacles involved in pursuing an indie music career. Having led worship at church for years and being part of ensembles that won prestigious state competitions in middle and high school, they trekked to Nashville in their late teens to pursue their passion – but found that most producers and executives were more concerned with the marketing and creation of the duo rather than allowing them to pursue their own vision.
When Jana began having debilitating migraines, she saw specialists, had test after test done to no avail, until one day when she went to her vocal doctor for a problem with her throat. It wasn’t until he looked in her ear that it was discovered she was experiencing the effects of trauma to her eardrum from back when she was just eleven years old, diving off a high dive. The incident had caused a tumor to grow over time backwards towards her brainstem and she was rushed into emergency surgery. Since then, she has struggled with managing her chronic nerve pain and as well as surprising everyone in the music industry that hears her sing with the fact that she has 80% hearing loss in one ear.
Meanwhile, Jacy spent ten years in and out of emergency rooms due to her own medical troubles, as well as recovering from ten different surgeries, ranging from kidney stones to gall bladder problems. Especially difficult during this time was having an ectopic pregnancy and the emotional recovery that followed.
Jana and Jacy speak like a tag team, complementing each other’s thoughts as they reflect on their intense journey of overcoming obstacles and share the resulting forward-thinking mindset that drives the music and lyrics of Lavendine. “A year and a half ago,” Jana says, “when we were coming out of all this and doubting our path forward in music, our husbands and mom told us, ‘You can’t not do music anymore. Many people in our lives were encouraging us, and deep down, we knew it was what we were called to do. No matter how relentless it felt like there were forces opposing us with one nightmarish situation after another, we wanted our positive messages to get out there.
Jacy adds, “Particularly with ‘Open Up a Window’, there’s an underlying message of hope in our music and we want to give listeners the sense that things may look bleak, but they will get better. Bishop T.D. Jakes has talked about the trap of getting caught up in the hateful middle of a difficult circumstance and not seeing that God can open us up to the end so that we can step into the promise. We don’t always hear people talking about the hope part of it. But Jana and I have kept moving forward and those underlying themes of perseverance come out in our writing.”
Jana continues, “Looking outside the window of your pain helps us see that we might be our own problem, and when we stay positive through all of our struggles with doubt and negativity, God will open us up to change. You can open up to that little glimmer and give yourself one more chance to believe in something good. You can crack that part of your heart open and give yourself a chance to believe in the possibilities of love and dreams again.”
Because of their deep cultural and spiritual roots in church, it would seem that Lavendine’s natural genre in the industry would be in Christian Contemporary Music (CCM). But every time they pursued that route, the doors closed emphatically while others in the secular music world seemed to open. While Jana and Jacy were happily surprised at the mainstream success of a faith-based song like “Rapture,” that seems to be a manifestation of their belief that they were given these outlets for a reason. Rather than preach to the choir, they can share their uplifting mesages with those who need to hear them more – and bring the gospel spirit to recording sessions helmed by secular producers and engineers in their midst.
The creation of “Open Up a Window” offers evidence that the song, as Jacy says, is “God-kissed.” She, Jana and Jacy’s guitarist husband Daniel, one of their co-writers, were in the studio one night just hanging out. Daniel felt prompted to go over to the keyboard in the room, and while he was “dilly-dallying” on it, he started playing a melody. Daniel is not a keyboardist and had never done anything like that. But as he captured that riff, Jacy suddenly said, “open up the window’ and they wrote the first verse in less than ten minutes. After the song was written, every time they asked Daniel to play it on the keys, he said he was unable to replicate what happened in that beautiful moment of inspiration.
“There are so many details Jana and I have struggled with on other songs we have written,” Jacy says. “But on this one, it was as fi we were vessels and God said, ‘Move over, I’m writing this one.’ Just like the title says, it’s opened us up to a new season of creativity and we’re excited about the new songs we’re working on that we plan to release soon. We don’t know the future, but we’re grateful and humbled to be back making music.” We have a feeling they will be around for quite a long time.
It’s time once again for our weekly Monday Mashup and this time it’s the final one for the month of September. Where has this year gone? There is so much great music out there and it’s getting harder and harder to choose which songs to share with you. We hope you love these five new singles and music videos we have chosen for you. But first, we have some news for you.
Ponderosa Grove wins Music Prize competition
My former client, Candace Devine, has been super busy during the pandemic. She started a new band, Ponderosa Grove, who has burst onto the scene with abandon. They recently travelled to Shreveport, Louisiana to participate in Music Prize’s Prize Fest competition. She was recently interviewed by KSLA News 12:
“I started my career as a backup singer to Christina Aguilera and then released a solo record that did pretty well. Then had a duo that was signed and toured and opened for Adam Lambert and Boys to Men and Michelle Branch. I sang on Ringo Starr’s record.”
Devine, a Grammy-nominated songwriter, lives in Prescott, Arizona. Her band, Ponderosa Grove, released its first album in June and it’s seen plenty of success so far.
She heard about Music Prize from a friend living in Arizona who was originally from Shreveport.
“We submitted to see if we could do Prize Fest and we made it in,” Devine said. “So it’s just been this really exciting, fun collaboration that’s blossomed into a beautiful thing.”
Devine and Ponderosa Grove walked away with the Grand Prize of $10,000. Congratulations and well done.
Shane Alexander has been a valuable asset to not only the local LA music scene but has also performed across the country. He has just released a new single that, despite its name, will not bore you. Please listen to “Asleep” and check out his amazing catalog of great songs.
It’s been a minute since we last featured a new single from SARRA, but her latest, “All I see is You” was definitely worth the wait. She is a bright and shining voice that combines the best in old school R&B, and we simply love her sound.
LA Music Critic Award winners Carly and the Universe have been treating us to a bevy of great tunes as they have released single after single from their new album. As they say, all good things must come to an end, and they have saved the best for last. Check out their groove and “Rock the Baby.”
Speaking of great groove, we are pleased to highlight the latest track from LA emerging artist, Sun Kiss. This song definitely makes us just want to “Melt Away,” and chillax. We think this artist has a bright future.
Our final single this week comes from future country-pop superstar Crystal McGrath. It is a powerful song about breaking free of a toxic relationship. We can definitely hear this song on country radio, and encourage them to start playing “Back to Never.” Expect big things from this young lady.
NEW MUSIC VIDEOS
We kick off this week’s new music videos with this one from LA Music Critic Award winning blues artist Diana Rein. She may be on a “Broken Road,” but her music is the fix for everything else. Let this one get your week going strong.
Next up is the latest from The Greys. It shares a title with one of our favorite Halloween movies, and is pure magic. Check out “Hocus Pocus.”
Our third video is full of style and mixes the best of slow jam, R&B and reggae with the sweet sound of Australian band Sticky Fingers. We love the sentiments of “We can Make the World Glow,” and think this is a powerful anthem for change. Check it out.
Our fourth video this week talks about a serious subject – teenage drinking and death. It’s powerful and definitely gives us food for thought. Check out KULICK and their new single, “Time to Go.”
We close out this week with this superb video from rising country-pop star Leah Marie Mason. She tells the cautionary tale of “Hannah,” and we are listening carefully to the words. We think we’ll be hearing a lot more from this promising young lady.