New Album: Stages (2010) Recorded live at the Kiawanda Center and Eden Hall, Oregon
Essential Tracks: “Danger in Loving You” by Halie Loren / Larry Wayne Clark, “Love Me Like a River Does” by Melody Gardot, “High Heel Blues” by Patricia Andress, “My Rainbow Race” by Pete Seeger
Online: halieloren.com / @halieloren on Twitter
Oregon songbird has come into her own, and the Japanese are loving it
Within a week of the Japanese release of Halie Loren’s album They Oughta Write a Song, this past May, both the album and title track jumped within the top five — and soon thereafter, #1 — on iTunes Japan rankings and topped other notable hot lists. Loren has since earned tons of attention overseas, and this week makes her first journey to the island nation that’s so quickly embraced her — somewhat to her surprise, she says — and is scheduled to return this November for the 6th annual Ginza International Jazz Festival in Tokyo. Next week, en route home to Oregon, Loren is scheduled to make several appearances on Maui, alongside her longtime collaborator, pianist Matt Treder — appearances that Maui jazz enthusiasts will not want to miss.
“I have yet to understand why things have taken off there the way that they have” says Loren. “Whereas here, I can see a definite cause and effect. I’m very new to the Japanese market; but because I’m not there, I don’t really know exactly how everything ties together… Really, it’s been a wonderful surprise. I’m not quite sure how my music got that first initial push out there, before I was signed to JVC/Victor Entertainment. My music was already selling and garnering all sorts of attention, before I had distribution.”
In the United States (where They Oughta was self-produced and released in 2008), Loren has a careful hand in her career, saying every album (there are five to date) “has my fingerprint on every part of the process,” from writing, to mixing, to marketing. For such a hands-on, indie-proud artist, the separation from overseas success might seem stressful; but Loren takes in as smooth a stride as her scorched meringue vocals.
“I don’t yet understand all that I need to and am learning about it. It’s a brand new world for me,” she says. “I’m excited about every aspect of it, and all that I have to look forward to… Things are certainly ramping-up.”
Though she may be new to the Japanese market, this 25-year-old’s home-soil career has already spanned a decade. She began singing professionally at the tender age of 14, having moved from her native Pacific Northwest to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue her music career (a temporary relocation, she’s now happily an Oregonian). Numerous awards and accolades in the U.S. are testament to her both her vocal talent and likable countenance; most recently They Oughta proving to not only be appealing to the jazzy Japanese sensibility, having had earned the prestigious “Best Vocal Jazz Album” from the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards.
“It’s the biggest indie music awards in the world,” Loren explains. “I knew I was a (top ten) finalist, out of hundreds and hundreds of entrants, but when I heard my name called, but it didn’t register for what felt like a long time. Then, this feeling of joy just rushed out of me unexpectedly and I couldn’t contain myself. It was so exciting!
I couldn’t believe the honor, to be recognized by my peers in the independent world of the music industry,” she describes. “I felt very encouraged and touched — that I’m doing something that’s right for me, an connecting with others.”
They Oughta, with its strong takes on classic tracks like Otis Blackwell and Eddie Cooley’s “Fever,” and Otis Redding and Steve Cropper’s “The Dock of the Bay,” is a huge departure from her Lilith-esque 2006 effort Full Circle, which — though showcasing her technical skill — sounds a bit like a bloodless Tori Amos.
“It was a time when I was really processing a lot of teenage angst, I guess you could say,” she laughs. “Growing up and growing pains. It was a time of musical growth for me, becoming more confident as an instrumentalist and being involved in every aspect of songwriting.”
While that growth is made evident with They Oughta, it’s but the first Spring green compared to the orchard-in-bloom that is her latest, Stages — a live album recorded at the Kiawanda Center and Eden Hall in Oregon.
“I’ve often longed to be able to translate the energy and spontaneity of live performace while recording in the studio — so instead, this time we brought the ‘studio’ to the stage,” Loren describes in the album’s liner notes. The quality and control of Loren’s vocal talent is given major credibility with this live endeavor, showcasing how she’s come into her own with her jazz undertakings and its tincture of playful, inky blue intonations.
So what’s next? “Well, I’m always thinking a few album projects ahead, in my thought process, and I’ve already written a lot of songs,” she says. “At this point, I’ll probably be incorporating more original material into my future projects. But, I’m careful about not really having an absolute plan. Things take interesting turns, sometimes — like Japan! Everything that’s been going on is nothing like I would have imagined last fall. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens. In the meantime, I’ll be doing what I know how to do best, which is performing live shows and writing songs.”
HOW TO HEAR HALIE, ON MAUI:
Tuesday (September 14)
>>> The Hula Honeys morning show on 102.9FM. 9am.
>>> Four Seasons Lounge. 8-10:30pm.
Wednesday (September 15)
>>> The Beehive with Dr. B on Mana’o Radio 91.5FM. 8-10am.
Friday (September 17)
>>> Four Seasons Lounge. 8-11pm.
MORE MUSIC BY HALIE LOREN:
They Oughta Write A Song (2008)
Many Times, Many Ways: A Holiday Collection (2008)
Full Circle (2006)