Tag Archive: Pop


Photo by Art Heffron

Photo by Art Heffron

Denver-based Folk-pop songstress Katey Laurel grew up drawing pictures, writing stories, riding horses and playing in the woods in the Colorado mountains. This is the idyllic foundation from which she crafts her life and her music. Katey’s songs range from radio-friendly pop tunes to lush, cinematic songs for film and television. With background in Classical piano and French horn as well as guitar and voice, her artistic roots are both deep and diverse. Laurel draws her musical inspiration as a songwriter from many musical styles including bluegrass, classic rock, alternative, country, and even 80s dance-pop.

Katey has performed hundreds of shows via venues, radio, television stations and festivals in Colorado and around the US, including Hotel Cafe (LA), The Bitter End (NYC), Bluebird Cafe (Nashville), Hard Rock Café Denver and Nashville, Colorado State Fair and the Greeley Stampede. She has built a solid fan base with her unique voice and a satisfying blend of folk and pop, garnering airplay on Triple A and AC radio stations around the country including KALC, KMNT, KBCO, KFMU and KOTO. Most recently she is a Great American Song Contest Top 5 Winner and NPR Mountain Stage NewSong Contest Regional Finalist, and has had two songs in rotation on Starbucks overhead programming.

As a live performer, she has shared the stage with Howie Day, Bill Mallonee, Katie Herzig, Matt Morris, Trevor Hall and others. With her latest album “Periscope” produced by industry veteran Warren Huart (The Fray, Aerosmith), Katey Laurel is now poised to reach an even larger audience in the days ahead. Here’s your chance to get three of her songs free!

Walnut Valley Festival New Song Winner
Tucson Folk Festival National Finalist
Great American Song Contest Finalist
NPR Mountain Stage NewSong Southwest Regional Finalist
Texaco Country Showdown Southwest Regional Finalist
International Songwriting Competition Semi-Finalist

Visit Katie at

Official Website: www.kateylaurel.com
Facebook: Facebook
Twitter Twitter


What’s The Buzz ?


You can keep the holidays a live with 2012 EP “All The Wonders Of This Holiday” is a 5 song collection that is nothing short of sensational! Patty Mattson can write songs, and with the expert production and mixing team headed by Grammy Winner Rob Chiarelli of ffinalmix.com, it’s just, honestly, magical. Don’t miss this!

No stranger to recording, Mattson, a gifted songwriter, invited us to share her undeniably well written and performed debut release “The Road” Late Oct 2011. Completed again with the expert production and mixing of Rob Chiarelli, Mattson takes us on a moving personal journey from the powerfully rockin, soulful and sexy, to the pristine and still manages to deliver amazing surprises along the way. This record keeps you interested in listening with well written, moving original songs and impressive vocals. “The Road” is a sure add to your music collection.

And, when Mattson’s impressive range is stunningly aligned to commercials, say, for BMW, Showtime, the Discovery Channel, or the many hilarious parody songs she does for Clear Channel and Premiere Radio Network, (including the late Howard Stern Show), she is the magnificent essential which makes each performance fly. Her wondrous imitation of Celine Dion’s Theme from Titanic with its hilariously re-written lyrics is nothing short of inspiring! You can see video’s she’s done to some of them at YouTube/pattymattson.

Visit Patty at http://pattymattson.com/


Today we’re joined by Jenna Epkey! Jenna’s no stranger to HorizonVU Music. Her cross-genre, emotion driven pop and country first caught our ears a couple of years ago. Jenna’s a singer/songwriter from Indiana, and when it comes to talking about the heartland – we look to the Midwest and think Jenna. What sets Jenna apart is the passion and emotion that goes into her music – emotions that we all know from our daily lives – the ups and the downs.

Jenna Epkey

Jenna Epkey

Hi Jenna! It’s a real pleasure to have this opportunity to get together. I think you’ve been pretty busy lately. Our followers might remember that we first got to know you when you were working out of Nashville. You’ve relocated to Indiana. Tell us a little bit about where you’ve been and where you are now.

JE: Thanks so much Phil for taking time to interview me! I’m excited to share what’s been going on in my little world since I moved back to Indiana in 2010.

Since then, I released an unplugged acoustic record (Change) and my single “Steel Heart” with friend and producer, Billy Smiley (from the band Whiteheart).

We don’t know much about your musical background. How did you find the path to a music career and do you have any teachers or mentors that really motivated you from the beginning?

JE: I started to sing around eight years old. It was around that time when my family, friends, and people at church started to notice I could sing as well. Growing up I always knew I wanted to do something in the entertainment world. This may sound funny, but from the moment I was introduced to Michael Jackson and his music I knew I wanted to be a performer/entertainer of some sort.

We want to get the full picture in our minds. You obviously collaborate with Tony Epke on your recordings. We note that while your on vocals, guitar and piano, Tony’s with you on guitar. Tell us about the collaboration and how the two of you work together.

JE: Tony Epkey is my husband and we play out all the time together. This wasn’t always the case, but for the last couple years we’ve found a unique bond and sound all our own. He plays on the “Steel Heart” track too. We play a nice acoustic show!

In March 2011, you released you EP, “A Little at a Time”. First, give us some background behind the release. How did it come to be?

JE: A Little at a Time is where it all began for me. In 2008, I decided I wanted to take my career to the next level, so I recorded a fully produced, top quality country EP that I still sell to this day. Some of the best musicians in Nashville played on it, and it has opened many doors for me in the music industry. I took a big leap of faith recording that record, and I am still trying to figure out how to market it…and how to get more people to hear it.

Second, reading the titles to the tracks (there are six of them) and having a listen, it’s had not to feel something’s going on with Jenna….”Miserable Girl”, “A Little At A Time”, “The Verge”…What’s going on there…what’s the storyline?

JE: Well…some of the tracks on the record aren’t my originals. I chose them because they are good songs and I could sing them well. But I can assure you as an artist there is always something going on with me internally, 🙂 I’m terribly deep and sensitive… One thing is for certain: when you get a Jenna Epkey record you’re going to get a smorgasbord of emotion! haha

On a light note, you put together a really great jingle for Folger’s. Tell us about that.

JE: My good friend (Vance Lambert) and I did the jingle in 2011. Vance wrote the tune, and we recorded it in Indianapolis where I’m from. It was a lot of fun! I think we should have won:)

Yeah, we think you should have won! Today’s a very special day. You’re releasing your video, “Steel Heart”. It’s an original single and Winner of the 2012 Blooming-Tunes Songwriter Competition. Pretty catchy song with a heavy title, tell us about the song and the video. What went into writing the song and how has it translated to video?

We’re going to take a look and listen to the video in just a second, but first, can you give us an introduction to the how it came about – production, direction and storyline?

JE: Yes. I wrote “Steel Heart” early -mid 2012. I knew it needed to be recorded right away. I believe the song really captures my voice, influences, and everything I’ve learned up to this point about writing.

The song itself is about being vulnerable with your needs and desires as a human being. We all want to be seen, heard, and loved for who we “really” are. “Steel Heart” is about realizing what you want, and the video helps reveal your role in discovering it.

In the music video I’m on a quest in the woods with a key literally around my neck searching for a treasure. The whole concept is based around finding this treasure and knowing I have the key (within) to find it.

The video was directed by Tyler Holbein. He is a young photographer from New York and this was our first project together. Tyler and a few students from Huntington University helped make this video come alive. We had great fun filming in the woods that day.

Alright, let’s have a look and listen!

Wow! That’s really fantastic! You deserve to be very happy and congrats to Tyler. So, what’s next for Jenna? Do you have some projets underway? Where are you heading in the months ahead?

JE: I’m currently writing my new record. I have a new song I’ll hopefully be releasing early 2013. It should be a very eventful and fun year ahead!

I Have to ask you my favorite question…no one gets away…Do you have a particular superhero that keeps you going or gives you inspiration?

JE: Oh jeez- favorite superhero? I don’t really have one. I do think Spiderman is really inspiring and cool though. I like the quote: “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Thanks so much, Jenna. We’ve really enjoyed talking with you and we know you’re on a roll. We’re looking forward to hearing a lot more from you in 2013, so we hope you’ll stay in touch. Let us know how the new record is comining along! That’s the latest from our friend Jenna Epskey.

You can visit Jenna at http://www.jennaepkey.com. Download the mp3 version of “Steel Heart” at http://www.jennaepkey.com/fr_home.cfm or click on the Amazon.com link on this HorizonVU Music page!

Markeisha Ensley
Interview for BACKPOCKET by Alex
Original post 22 March 2012
http://never2funky.com/magazine/backpocket/2012/03/markeisha-ensley/

Listening to the sounds of singer-songwriter Markeisha Ensley is like indulging in a rich, flourless chocolate cake while drinking a well-aged, red wine. She combines piano- playing flair with smooth soul, her mellifluous voice soaring over unforgettable melodies. Originally from Aurora, Colorado, she is the winner of the 2011 Abe Olman Scholarship Award for Excellence in Songwriting from the Songwriters Hall of Fame/Songwriters Guild of America, with previous recipients including John Legend. A cross between Alicia Keys and Anita Baker, Markeisha strikes an uplifting groove and graces the stage with a powerful, undeniable presence.

Markeisha mixes a unique blend of Motown doo-wop harmonies, pop melodies and gospel singing on her new EP, Talk to Me, a sultry selection of up-tempos and ballads on love. Smooth and sexy, the 5 songs were written by the singer as reflection on her recent travels to France and the Caribbean. “It was my first time traveling abroad and I was so affected and inspired by the French culture, people, and of course, the food,” she laughs. Recorded with her band in New York at Flux Studios (Mick Jagger, Jennifer Lopez, Babyface), the EP is produced by up-and-coming producer, David Amber, and will be released on Valentine’s Day, 2012.

As a child, Markeisha began her love affair with music when singing in her hometown Baptist church choir. While gospel music laid the foundation, she was also heavily influenced by her parents’ record collection with Aretha, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Carole King and Linda Ronstadt on heavy rotation. Markeisha studied piano and began writing poetry while in high school, but it was the many nights spent writing songs in the school’s practice rooms while attending New York University that sent Markeisha down the road to singer-songwriter land. “I developed my own sanctuary and no matter what was going on in my life, I could sit behind a piano and sing and know everything was alright.”

Since releasing her debut album, Ready, in 2006, Markeisha has received numerous awards and honors. Two songs from that cd, “The Strangest Thing” and “Loving You”, received an Honorable Mention in the Billboard World Songwriting Contest. Markeisha was also recognized by BMI/Songwriters Association of Washington, where she was asked to perform at the Smithsonian Museum alongside legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier (“Stop! In the Name of Love”). She has toured throughout the country, appeared on “Showtime at the Apollo”, and recently completed a residency performing in St. Barth’s.

Now based in NYC, Markeisha is also a proud member of LIFEBeat’s Hearts and Voices Program, bringing the healing power of music to people living with HIV/AIDS. She is currently planning her 2012 summer US tour.

Tell us a little about yourself, when did you get started, and what influenced you to get into music?

I’m a singer, songwriter, pianist, foodie. I first started singing when I was about 7 in my church choir back home in Colorado and wrote my first song when I was in high school. That’s when I also started playing piano and discovered the art of writing melodies and my love for it.

Where are you based out of?

New York, NY

So how would you describe your musical style?

I listen to all types of music, everything from jazz and r&b to country and musical theater and that’s definitely influenced my songwriting. My music is r&b/ pop, but I also think you can hear the jazz and gospel influence in it, too. I’m really interested in writing songs with great lyrics and catchy melodies, so if someone described my music that way, I’d be fine with it!

Who are your musical influences, who do you follow?

I loved the big pop divas of the 80’s and 90’s like Whitney and Mariah. Stevie Wonder is really inspiring to me, too. If I could write an album as good as Carole King’s Tapestry, I’d be happy. My parents also listened to a lot of 60’s r&b, so that music had a big influence on me. As far as new artists, I’m a big fan of Bruno Mars. His album last year was by far my favorite – he’s a fantastic songwriter and musician and also has an amazing voice.

What has been the contributing factors to your success thus far?

Perseverance and faith. There are definitely highs and lows working as a musician, but you keep pursuing your dream because you have no other choice. Making music is my passion and it makes me really happy, so that definitely helps me in working towards my goal.

Who are your current collaborators?

I just recorded a new EP, Talk To Me, which was produced by David Amber at Flux Studios, NYC (Mick Jagger, Babyface). It was a very exciting, joyous, anxious, therapeutic and exhilarating process, so it was great to have a partner-in-crime who really understood me as an artist and helped me to find the sound that I was looking for. I’m really proud of the finished product!

Are there any events in your musical travels that really stand out in your mind?

Paris! I performed at a jazz club there last fall and found such a welcoming audience for American r&b and jazz. The people are true lovers of American music and it was such a supportive and friendly vibe. I’m planning on touring there again later this year.

What are you currently working on?

I’m writing a lot! I’ve been going through a really inspiring time recently and it’s one of those times when I can’t seem to write fast enough. Hopefully this will go on for a long time… I’m also planning a summer US tour and dates in Europe for the fall.

Are there any other creatives you think we should be looking out for, either musically or not?

I highly recommend Robert Flack’s new album of Beatles covers. She’s a legend and I recently had the opportunity to meet her, which was pretty inspiring. Her new album is great.

Any message you would like to share with your fans?

Thank you for supporting new music! Nothing makes me happier than making music and I feel blessed to get to do it for a living.

Finally, your social media links?

Website: www.Markeisha.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MarkeishaEnsley

Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarkeishaE

Maria Brodskaya

Maria Brodskaya

Recently, we had the pleasure of being  introduced to Maria Brodskaya. Maria is a singer, songwriter, pianist and violinist, as well as an actress and photo model.

She was born into a musical family Belgorod, Russia.  At age four Maria began studying music, playing the violin and piano. By the age of seven she began writing music. With her first two songs she earned her first composer award at the famous Ukrainian contest “Young composers” in Kiev. Maria has won many contests as a singer and songwriter. She has performed in Moscow (Russia), Kiev (Ukraine), Berlin (Germany), Copenhagen (Danmark), Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Maria’s  debute album “Apple-Moon” is now available. The CD brings to the fore a blend of pop, soul, slavic folk, jazz and ambient music. It unites the modern and ancient musical traditions. East and West.

So, tell us a bit more about your background and your introduction to music?

MB: I was born in Russia, in a small town Belgorod, in a family of professional musicians – my father was a composer and a pianist, and my mother is a concertmaster and music teacher. When I was six I entered The Special Musical Schoolfor Gifted Children, affiliated with the Conservatory, that was a border school in Kharkov (Ukraine), and five days a week I was living there, because that was the nearest special music school. Then when I finished it ahead of time, cum laude, I entered the Conservatory in two departments – violin and piano. And then, after my studying there for two years, I moved to Moscow and entered the Russian Academy of Music as a singer and songwriter. And I graduated from there cum laude too:) So, now I’m in Moscow. And actually, when they ask me about my nationality and etc – I always answer: “no matter where I am from and where I am know – I consider myself a person without age and nationality, and I’m just a human creature of this world and a citizen of the Earth planet:)

Once you had your focus on music, how did you begin your journey towards becoming a professional ?

MB: Well, actually, apart from my musical education, that was starting when I was four – I began studying music, playing the violin and piano in a music school in my home town before the special music school – I’ve been participated in many contests and festivals, starting from the age of 7. By this age – of seven – I began writing music and, with my first two songs, I won my first composer award in the “Young Composers Contest” in Kiev (that is the capital of Ukraine). Then I’ve had a lot of different awards as a singer and songwriter, and also as a composer of instrumental music. And also I have a lot of performances as an artist-violinist of a chamber and symphony orchestra. And at the age of 16 – when I was a student of the Conservatory – I had my first jazz quartet and sang jazz in club with them. And then, when I came to Moscow I organized my acoustic jazz quartet. Its name was ‘Soft-M”. We played jazz in Moscow jazz clubs, and I performed as a vocalist, violinist, arranger and art director simultaneously. But the last few years I’m focused on my own original music, and I’m working in the studio, writing a lot and recording my albums. I have some performances in Moscow clubs and some events – I play the piano and sing my jazz-folk songs in English, Russian and Ukrainian languages, and I even have a song in Hebrew. And this April I had two concerts in Buenos-Aires with my both programs – from my first album “Apple-Moon” and with my jazz-folk program that I’m singing and playing the piano. But still great part of my time now I devote to my working in the studio. And now I’m recording my new album – my second album in English.

Who were your earliest sources of inspiration?

MB: Well, there was a lot of different music sounding in my parents place. And my first names from my childhood, that have formed my musical world outlook and taste and inspired me were: Diana Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday. And then – who became my gurus more: Bob James, Bill Evance, Pat Metheny, Shirley Horn, Sting, Seal, Sade.

In the classical music I can emphasize my lovely great and important names for my musical life: Sergei Rachmaninov and Claude Debussy.

And also one of the spring of inspiration for me is Ukrainian Folk Music.

Tell us about your travels and exposure to international audiences?

I haven’t had a lot of international performances yet. I recorded my debut album in English in 2011, and my second album in English is getting ready very soon. But I had a few performances in Berlin, and with my new album “Apple-Moon” two concerts in Buenos Aires, that were very successful, and audience was very kind, and people were coming up to me and asking me for my album. And though I have never been to America yet – I’m just getting ready to come -, now I receive a lot of letters from my fans – most of them are Americans and English people, who has listened to my album on Internet, iTunes and on Radio, and they write me how they love my music, and how much they are waiting for my concerts in their countries. So, now I’m doing my best to come to develop and realize myself in the US. Because that is my main professional goal for now, and also my dream.

Let’s take a few minutes to watch your video “Empire of Music”.

Your CD “Apple Moon” is available on iTunes and Amazon (as well as SHOP HorizonVU Music). Give us some background on the album…what’s the message?

MB: Well, this is my real debut album, that is the mix of pop, soul, slavic folk, jazz and ambient music. And the idea of the music in this album was to unite different musical traditions – East and West. I wanted to make the modern music, but to save in it the tones of the slavic folk music with its great history. And telling about some background of this album I’d like to start from the name – “Apple-Moon”, and there is a short funny story:

I didn’t have any name for the album, but I had a few songs for it. But suddenly… – the new song is born via iPad – it was created and arranged on iPad..:)  And this song became the “key-song” and also brought the tittle for the album: because of I love Apple, I love apples, and I love moon – so, the name has come: “Apple-Moon”!

And the interesting thing more is this key-song – “Apple-Moon” is based on the world known old Ukrainian song “Shchedrik” or “Carol of the Bels” – it’s English version of this song. The sense of this song has a big magic, as well as all of the slavic folk music has. And as for the lyrics in this album – I can say they are the mix too: I was trying to compile some kind of the slavic folk poetry images and the magical sense, figurative style, strong emotion of love, drama and tenderness. I wanted to make the songs soft and dramatic one and the same time, emotional and deep, magical and sexy. And I hope I did that, because now people tell me about these things in my music:)

And by the way, I have to say, that here in this album I’m acting not only as a singer and songwriter, but also as a piano-and-violin-player, and also as an author of the arrangements of some songs.

And now “Apple-Moon” airs on different radio stations in the US and UK. And by the way, here in this album I’m acting not only as a singer and songwriter, but also as a piano-and-violin-player, and also as an author of the arrangements of some songs.

What’s is Maria’s plan for 2012? What should our readers be looking for as far as Maria is concerned?

MB: Well, first, now I’m finishing my second English album, that will be very interesting, beautiful and strong music. Something new, I guess. I don’t like any kind of copy-cats in music and in arts on the whole. I really think the most important and interesting thing that artist can do and have to do in their arts is to express their own inner world in their doings.  And that is the only thing that the creative work is for.

Second, my main goal is to realize and develop myself in the US, now I’m preparing a lot of different papers to get american visa, and hope very much to get it as soon as my new album is ready. So, I will have two recorded albums in my hands – that are my original music and lyrics. And that will be my completed concert program. And more over, there is two hundred songs in my composer baggage, and by this moment thirty songs from them are in English. So, I’m also planning to record not only the second, but also the third album in this year, at least.

I’m planning to come to the US with God’s help, create a band there, and of course I hope to have the touting through the US, and realize all my skills and creative ideas on the stage, in my music and my performance. I hope to get a serious contract with the label, maybe major – I know I can be a very good asset:))  Of course, I am setting the goal and have a big hope to win Grammies as an interesting artist with interesting music – these are  grerat goals and aspirations for any musician. I am not the sort of girl who is going to give up, I’m intending to keep fighting for my dreams and for myself, for my right to be heard and realized in this world, and I’m going to win that!

Maria, we appreciate you time and we certainly wish you all the very best  going forward.  Maria’s album is available on iTunes and Amazon (directly and through SHOP HorizonVU Music). Let’s talk again soon!

Visit Maria Brodskaya at 

Jackie Guerrera

Jackie Guerrera

Jackie Guerrera is an outstanding up and coming singer comes our way from  New Haven, Connecticut. Jackie was brought up in New Haven, and in fact, lived in the same house  all 22 years of  her life! Her  mother was a dancer ,so when she was 2 years old she started dance lessons. Tap, jazz, ballet, acrobatics, point, and musical theatre dance. She has always loved being on stage, and when she was around 8, she statred doing musical theater. She continued performing throughout middle school and when she was 13 andwon a gift certificate for a free voice lesson with a local voice coach – an event changing her life!. She  attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

Hey, Jackie! It’s great to have you with us on the HorizonVU Music Blog and we appreciate your taking time to talk to us. We know a little bit about your past,  so tell us what happened in your life that ignited your musical development?

JG: I think what ignited my musical development was when the Broadway musical Wicked came out. Up until then, I was playing it safe when it came to my voice. I would work on easy songs that were right within my range, never straying too far from that. Once I heard ‘The Wizard and I’ from the show, I knew I wanted to try it. My voice coach knew it would be a challenge but had 100% faith in me that I could do it. I was still fairly new to singing on stage by myself at this point, but I entered a talent show in my high school and wanted to sing that song. I think that was when it really hot me that I didn’t want to to anything else for the rest of my life. I was ready to try so many new things with my voice and so many new songs and I was really ready to move forward as a singer.

Thinking back on your musical interests and development tells us which artists influenced you the most – and name a few of the songs that stand out in your mind?

JG: A lot of the artists that kept me interested growing up were singers that were either in Broadway shows or had a Broadway style to theirvoice. Idina Menzel was one of the top women I loved. The control she has over her voice is amazing. I also the power that comes from Whitney Houston. I love “I Have Nothing” and I remember belting out that song in my bedroom when no one was home. Some more of my favorites are Mariah Carey, Christina Aguleira, Carrie Underwood, Beyonce and Bruno Mars.

Every successful performer has a “hook” or something that makes them stand out from other artists…what is it about your work that makes you different…can you describe the “Jackie Guerrera” sound for us?

JG: The “Jackie Guerrera” sound is hard to explain! I try to keep my interests diverse in the sense that I don’t just listen to one style of music, sowhen I’m singing I love adding my own riffs and vocal acrobatics that sound like they could be in a pop song, or a country song, or even in a rock song. I really love singing songs that show my range, and dynamics. Overall everything I sing I try to make it fun. Even if it’s a sad, or somber song. I’m always smiling, and I want my music to show that this is what I love.

In your performing history, what do you consider to be the highlight so far?

JG: I think the highlight so far would probably be singing in a local festival in June of 2011. This was the first time in a while that I was singing current songs that were on the radio and that people knew, so if I screwed up people would know. I worked so hard in the days and weeks before the show because I wanted to be prepared and not be worrying about my voice or the lyrics or anything like that. When I was on stage the day of the performance, I had a blast! It was the first time since I had graduated college that I was up on stage performing and wasn’t worried about the high notes or the really hard parts of the songs. I just let myself go and had so much fun. I tried getting the crowd involved and when I got off stage I knew that this was something I had to continue doing for the rest of my life.

You mentioned the June festival.  I’d like our community to take a look. Here’s Jackie at the Branford Festival covering Linda Eder’s “Big Time”.

Thinking about your own development and the performers you admire, is there any one artist you would like people to think of when they hear you or see you perform?

JG: This is a really hard question! If I had to pick just one, it’d probably be Beyonce. Whether listening to her or watching her perform you canfeel her voice. She has so much passion when she sings and I think that’s very important. Singing isn’t just about hitting the notes andsounding good. If you put your all into the song you’re singing you don’t have to worry about the notes. You have to have feeling, and Beyonce is someone who does that all the time. I’d like people to think that I do that as well.

Music is a tough business…what drives your passion to pursue a music career? It seems like there is a special “something” going on…if it was just passion for music that counted we’d have a lot more successful artists .

JG: Music is a very tough business. There’s always someone better than your best. I think one of the things that drives my passion is that I have a huge support system. I have an amazing family that has supported my dream since day one. Also, I believe in myself. I know I’m not perfect. I see my flaws and my strong points and I’m always willing to learn new things and work on myself. Believing in Jackie is something I didn’t always do, but I can honestly say now that I’m behind myself 100%, even when I’m upset, or don’t think I’m good enough. I know I’ll always have music.

JG: What’s next on the agenda? Where do you take your career next…what does Jackie want to do?

I want to get into the studio! I don’t consider myself the best writer, but I have a boat load of experiences I would love to be able to put into songs. When I recorded some covers for my first demo, I loved the feeling I got, and I don’t want to ever let that end! There’s so many things I want to do. I want to be on Broadway in a musical. I want to be in a movie. I want to have my own album and have people start to know who I am. The possibilities are endless!

Endless, for sure. Jackie! Again, thanks very much. We’ll be keeping up with your work and I hope you’ll be back to speak with us soon!!!

Pop/rocker and award winning Gibson artist, Jerad Finck claims the #1 independent song in the country with his latest release “Runaway” continuing the climb the charts and hold steady at #1. “Runaway” quickly rose in the Hot 100 almost immediately on the AC charts. The hot new artist is garnering rave reviews and is currently launching a U.S. tour will perform live with his band at an exclusive VIP Press event on Sunday, August 28 th in  New York.

“Runaway” is about not giving up on your dreams, no matter how hard it gets which was the perfectbackdrop for a video inspired by Dirk Nowitzki who was named the MVP in this year’s NBA Finals. Not only has “Runaway” climbed quickly on the radio charts but both the NBA and the NHL used Jerad’s music for videos in the finals that celebrated both the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Bruins title wins.

Finck hails from Spokane, Washington and recently returned from two successful stops in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Las Vegas, Nevada. Long noted as a road warrior, Jerad has traveled more than 100,000 miles to date and to 46 states to bring his original music to his fans.  He has been featured in over 50 newspapers and magazines and has appeared on numerous morning shows including NBC, FOX, ABC and CBS.  His original music continues to be featured on some of the country’s most popular programming carried on HBO, ESPN, Discovery, CBS and NBC to name a few.  He has recorded with Grammy winner John Seymour, Produced with Anthony Resta, and mastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios with Steve Rooke.  He will also soon hit the road with Sister Hazel with cities to be announced soon. This is Finck’s second tour with the internationally recognized platinum selling alternative rock group.

Fans can download “Runaway” on iTunes or go to  www.jeradfinckmusic.com . Follow Jerad Finck at www.facebook.com/jeradfinck music or www.twitter.com/jeradfinckmusic .

Reviewed By: Malcolm Carter
Label: Risa Hall
Format: CD

Independently released on her own label, ‘Glass Half…?’ is the debut album from New York born and now Manchester-based Risa Hall, but the talented actress/singer/songwriter has been involved with music for many years. The twelve original songs spread over the album, which was produced by Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore, Sandi Thorn, Waterboys), take in a breathtaking variety of styles which isn’t so surprising given Risa’s experience in films, voiceovers and musicals.

It could have been all over the place of course; drawing on elements taken from all phases of her long career means that show tunes could sit uneasily next to Risa’s blues and jazz leanings and songs that reflect her pop sensibilities. It shouldn’t really work over the length of an album, but Risa has succeeded in producing an eclectic set of songs that flow very nicely together.

It all starts with ‘Can’t Take Away’ and we’re immediately struck by the power in Risa’s vocals. She certainly isn’t of the popular cutesy, little-girl-lost school. Here is a woman who sings from the heart and grabs your attention. That opening song shows Risa’s bluesy side and, as appealing, well-structured and brilliantly produced and performed as it is there is a feeling that if the following eleven songs are in the same vein that, unfortunately, despite Risa’s remarkable vocals we’ve heard it all before. Maybe not as proficiently as this but that particular song offers nothing new. Having said that, it’s the first inkling that Risa Hall is an outstanding vocalist.

Thankfully the following song, the poppy ‘Shooting Stars’ shows another side to Risa’s talents. Almost every song on ‘Glass Half…?’ is radically different to the one that precedes it and the album seems to improve with each song and certainly with each listen. Risa is one of those rare artists who are impossible to pigeonhole. On that opening cut we are reminded of Janis Joplin, Elkie Brooks and almost any other female singer from the last five decades who sang with passion and expression in their vocals. But it only lasts for that one song; then we realise that here is a unique talent, a singer who can handle, and seemingly handle with ease, any genre she cares to approach.

Given his past accomplishments I’m sure these songs are brought to life not just by his production skills but by the musical contributions that Nigel Stonier makes to each song. Along with co-producer Tracey Browne he adds the perfect sound to frame Risa’s outstanding vocals.

But without wishing to take any credit away from the sterling job the producers and other musicians make one wonders if Risa is one of those singers who would sound good no matter what she sings. Unusually for such a powerful singer there’s a certain amount of that very English purity that dominated the folk scene of the sixties and seventies in her vocals. On tracks such as ‘The Grail’ Risa mixes folk leanings, especially notable on this song by the wind instruments, with her other influences to create sounds that are totally unique to her.

Risa follows that song with ‘Candy Coated Hell’ which shows yet another side; this time by drawing from bands like the Ramones, which again is no big surprise given her musical pedigree, and while never losing sight of the melody it’s a major departure from the previous song.

The album closes with ‘Roses’ where the purity in Risa’s vocals really shines through, there’s no need for a lyric sheet here, the words ring out crystal clear, the lone violin weeps out the melody accompanied by piano and once again Risa’s vocals are first-class.

At the risk of repeating myself I have to say that this is one of the most eclectic yet complete albums that has come my way recently. It’s highly recommended for those who are looking for something a little different and which covers more than one base. With a voice like that Risa deserves all the acclaim that must surely come her way.

Malcom Carter’s review can be found at  http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Review.aspx?id=7711

Chantelle Barry

Chantelle Barry

Commenting on singer/songwriter and actress Chantelle Barry,  Lionel Richie comments  “long overdue,..the best kept secret on the planet”.  We couldn’t agree more.  We first came to know her through her music – “You” and “Like You Do” (Elvis-like).

She’s  intelligent,  talented and strikingly pretty. If that isn’t enough, talking with her is just…fun. You come away from meeting her feeling like you have a real new friend.  A native of Perth Western Australia, Chantelle Barry won Australia’s version of POPSTARS, earning a coveted spot in the all-girl pop group, Bardot. The group’s debut single, “Poison”, entered the ARIA Singles Chart at 1, where it spent two consecutive weeks, earning a double platinum certification. It became the sixth highest selling single in Australia in 2000, and was the highest selling single by an Australian act that year.  Since leaving Australia, she’s lived in London and now resides in Los Angeles.

Chantelle, thanks so much for taking time to talk to us. It’s such a pleasure to chat with you. We know a little bit about you – we know you are Australian, you left Australia to pursue you music and acting career, stopped of in London and now you are in Southern California. Fill in the blanks a bit if you will…how and where did you start your career in music and acting?

CB: I started singing when I was 5 or 6.  I sang in a lot of competitions and really loved being on stage.  Acting came later. When I was in my last year of primary school my music teacher who was from California, Mr Mike Leaderbrand wrote a musical based on the C.S. Lewis novel ‘The Silver Chair’ and made me the star of it.  I was like “Wait, I can act AND sing at the same time?, I’m in!!”.  Mr Leaderbrand was a huge inspiration to me.  He taught me how to read music and introduced me to a lot of great music like The Beatles and Pink Floyd.  My dad was also a musician and an audio engineer so when I wasn’t at school I had my dad teaching me about decibels and country music.  Yep, he insisted that if I wanted to be a good singer I needed to be able to sing country, so I had an eclectic style from a really young age.

I went to a performing arts high school and buried myself in theater.  I just really had a passion for learning about different techniques and playwrights and loved the idea of becoming a different person to tell a story on stage.  I wasn’t a ‘cool kid’ that’s for sure, but I truly believed that everything I was interested in was cool.

When I finished high school I moved to The East coast (Sydney) to study acting and that’s when I really started to get into songwriting.  Then I auditioned for a TV show called POPSTARS.  It was a making of the band type show, I made the final cut and the rest is a hop, step and a google click away 😉

How do you describe you music – your sound?

CB: That’s always a tough question for me but I think I’d call it ‘singer songwriter/pop’.  If I had to do a pitch I’d probably say Sade meets Bruno Mars. Old school meets new school.  I have a lot of musical influences and I think they all make an appearance in some song or another.

Tell us a bit about your journey from Australia to LA – were you performing along the way?

CB: And what a long journey it’s been!!   I’ve always felt like there was more for me out in the world and I felt a little stunted in Australia- for lack of a better word.  So I moved to London first, it was an easier transition seeing that there are so many Aussies in the UK, but after 8 months of cold and writing too many songs about being lonely I moved to sunny Los Angeles CA.  I’d visited the states before and since I was a little girl I had dreams of one day living here so it seemed like the natural next step for me to take.

Your first CD, Simple Things…tell us about that…what inspired you to do the CD?

CB: Simple Things was my first album and a really big deal for me.  Being in a place like LA, it’s easy to get swept away in all the excitement and

Scott Whyte and Chantelle Barry

Scott Whyte and Chantelle Barry

opportunity, but on the flip side it’s just as easy to feel jaded and to personalize the daily rejections that this industry deals out.  So one day I was sitting in my car thinking about my life and my (at the time) evident lack of money and out came the song Simple Things.  People really took a liking to the song and it was the first time I’d written something that organic that didn’t come out of me asking “Ok, what do the labels wanna hear?  Would this sound good on the radio?”.  It resonated because it came from a real place.  So a few years later I met a really talented actor/musician on a movie I was working on, by the name of Scott Whyte. He came out to see me perform one night and once he heard my music he wanted to produce an album for me.  At the time he was a first time producer so it was a fun and bumpy ride for both of us.  The thing about Scott is that he really got my music immediately.  He wasn’t wanting to change my style or put beats to my songs- he just wanted to produce something really organic that showed the songs in their best light.  And I think that’s exactly what he did.

Now Scott and I are writing partners and have a song that we wrote on hold for the new Footloose movie.  Fingers crossed.

Let”s take a few minutes right now to watch your video, “Letting Go”…


We’ve mentioned the support you’ve gotten from Lionel Richie…tell us about how you came to know Lionel and a bit about the direction he has given you.


CB: I met Lionel years ago when I first moved to LA.  His manger at the time was trying to sign me (and get into my pants, but that’s a whole other story) and mid meeting in walks Lionel Richie.  I tried to play it cool given that he’s an absolute legend and I grew up listening to him on the radio but I think it was obvious that I was really star struck.  We immediately clicked.  He reminds me a lot of my dad in some ways so early on we established a fun relaxed relationship, and I always fee like he’s someone I can be myself around and really trust.  He’s alway given me the most honest advice in regards to my music and he respects the fact that I’m still here pursuing my passion, and admittedly it’s really nice to have that kind of support from someone as like him.  He’s a pioneer in the music business.  He’s also one of the most generous people I know- when I told him that I was going to make my album Simple Things he bought me an Apple computer completely decked out with all the music programs that we’d need.  We’ve talked about me opening for him one day,…that is definitely one of the most exciting prospects I can imagine.

Do you recall a special moment in your career – that memory that keeps you going even when it’s been a really bad day?

CB: When I was just out of high school I auditioned for big show and got really close on it.  My mum flew to Sydney with me for the callback and when I didn’t get the part I was so disappointed, but my mum gave me a huge hug, told me how proud she was of me for getting that far and took me to see Showboat that night.  I know that no matter what I always have my family and my friends and they love me no matter how successful i am.  That is a constant in my life and that keeps me going for sure.

A lot of our young friends dream of going to LA and becoming a star…Be frank, tell us about what’s it’s like to be part of the LA music scene…the great, and maybe the not so great…?

CB: I always tell people to do it because you love it,..because there’s nothing else you wanna do.  For me, when I wake up music’s the first thing on my mind and when I go to sleep it’s still there.   There are so many ups and downs (welcome to life),…I get a lot of joy from performing live because I know that my music is reaching people immediately, and I love getting letters from people telling me how they could relate to my lyrics or how one of my songs helped them through a breakup.  That’s really rewarding.  On the not so fun side often it feels like you’re fate is in other peoples’ hands.  Waiting for someone to say “yes” , which could be the one yes that changes your entire life.  But I think finding a way to say “yes!” to yourself is key.  Approval has to start from within, and I’m still learning that.

You seem to have your finger in a lot of different pots. Do you get much free time to pursue other passions?

CB: I try to stay really busy.  Kind of like the concept of throwing a bunch into the air and seeing what sticks, ya know.   I recently performed at the NAMM conference at the Sennheier booth and received an awesome endorsement deal with them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBGJ_dLqO0g .  I couldn’t be happier, especially since this satisfies my microphone fetish 😉  As a result of that Scott and I made a cool making of video where that showcases my songwriting process from start to finish featuring Sennheiser gear.  The company loved the video so much that they’re now going to put the video on their home page.  Making the video was fun.

I also just became the face of a new skincare lone called KEVO Naturals (www.kevonaturals.com).  I have really sensitive skin and this product is amazing.  It’s made from all natural ingredients like certified organic shea butter blended with jojoba and essential oils,..and having a free life time supply isn’t a bad deal!

What’s next for you? We know you are working with Gerry Ceagle…what do you two have planned?

CB: Believe it or not I met my music manager Gerry on Facebook. (I will NEVER talk sh*#t about an online social network again!)  He’s managed some really amazing artists, has an impressive career as a radio programmer for many years, and above all he’s a real fan of my music.  At the moment we’re shopping to major labels.  It’s been a weird time for me because I’m such a proactive person and have a difficult time not being in control of my career (ha, clearly I chose the wrong business), so I had to take a  lot of my content down from websites and online stores and haven’t been pursuing the same opportunities that I usually do just because we’re waiting for labels responses. I think the biggest frustration for me is that it seems like major labels wanna find the next big ‘unique’ thing but no-one’s really willing to take the risk on someone that doesn’t sound familiar or like an artist that already on the radio.  I trust Gerry though and I trust my own instincts so at this point it’s just a waiting game.  Maybe I’ll try to master the art of patience in the meantime 😉

I always have to ask my friends…who is your hero?

CB: I have a couple.  Judy Garland for sure.  That is a woman who took so much crap from the industry from such a young age- she wasn’t pretty enough or skinny enough or whatever, and she never quit.  There was something so beautifully melancholy about her and yet everytime I listen to her singing I feel so happy.  What a gift.

My other hero is hands down my mother.  An amazingly strong woman who didn’t have much growing up in terms of material wealth, but she has never let her circumstances define who she is.  My mum is one of those rare people that lives by example.  Not to mention the fact that she made every costume of mine when I performed as a kid and has done nothing but support me and every crazy idea I’ve ever had.  I’m very lucky.   Oh yeah, and she cooks up a storm!

Chantelle, it’s been a real pleasure chatting with you. Please know you have friends at HorizonVU Music…five stars for you and all the best of luck! Stay in touch!

R-mioneIf it’s electronica/pop/rock you’re looking for – and a lot of fun – we have the answer ! We recently caught up with R-mione in Paris and spent some time over coffee catching up with our good friend. In fact, R-mione’s music covers a wide range. It can be very upbeat and driven and/or very soothing – mellow often owing to the artful use of electronics. We have to tell you that in addition to being extremely talented and energetic – R-mione is absolutely delightful and the when you talk with her the time flies by!

Hey! Great to see you! Tell us about yourself and your music background.

R: I was born in the south of France at Nice Côte D’Azur on the Riviera. I grew up for a time in Chalon sur Saône where I started playing the piano and studying music theory. I can’t say I was a great student and early on I found I was interested in rock music and bored by music theory! Some years later, when I was fifteen, I moved to Lille in the north of France and started taking guitar lessons.

That must have been quite a change from the Mediterranean to Lille in the north!

R: Yes, that’s true, but we had to move because of my parents’ work. Anyway, I wasn’t there too long as at eighteen I moved back south to Niceand oursue my own life and interests. I worked at the National Theater of Nice to earning a living and pay for my studies at the university (letters). I also took music theory and voice lessons with a famous conductor. I joined a grunge band as lead singer. That’s where I met my best friend, Lord Speed, the leqd guitarist!

Grunge band? How did that work out?

R: Well we actually performed a lot and in 1997, the band had to move to Paris. It was at this time I really started getting attracted to production and I also met a lot of different artists across genres – especially rap and electronic. I started to aquaint myself with electronic machines, samplers, computers and home studios.

Okay, but that’s quite a step forward. How did you learn to use the equipment and how did all that change your music?

R: First, my music moved from rock to trip-hop and jungle influences came into play. Lord Speed and I left the band and started new projects. We signed with Bis Music FRANCE to do some albums in 1998. Second, at the same time, I joined THE SOUND ACCESS engineer school and was set to graduate in 2000. I became a producer at that time. Lord Speed and I created a label, SELVA CONNECTION. We made vinyls for DJ distributed by Under One Sun based in the U.K. One of the most famous is LWD.

R-mioneWe scored music for the cinema-like “Electron Libre” movie by Marie Donnio. Also we did “Petite Copine” by Frederic Defenthal. We also worked with Game One TV.

And your music at this point?

R: By now we had created a style of our very own by injecting a subtle mixture of all our influences – electro, rock, folk, and trip-hop influences. Our lyrics are in English and the voice moves from clearness to a blues emphasis – all sustained by a half-rock (bass/guitar) and electro (DJ).

What are you doing now?

Well, at the present time I’m working on a new album. New singles are “STOP”, “PRIVATE GARDEN” and “WHERE IS LOVE”.

Alright everybody, you can hear R-mione and see the vids for “PRIVATE GARDEN” and “ “WHERE IS LOVE” at http://www.myspace.com/rmione. Vids for all three songs are on YouTube (also check out the HorizonVU Music YouTube Channel).

R-mione, great to see you as always – you’re a good friend of HorizonVU Music! Best of luck to you!!! We’re going to leave you all with (probably) our favorite “PRIVATE GARDEN”!!!

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