THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
With Crystal Clear Vocal Coloration & Original Songwriting Skills, SASA Senior Hope Currie Brings New Promise to the Local Music Scene
07th October, 2010 0
I first encountered the focused and encompassing talent of Hope Currie several years ago when asked to join a panel of judges for the ‘Y-Vibe’ - an area wide talent show, spanning the ages of 12-18. Although she was one of the younger performers to grace the stage, and this was her first ‘public’ performance outside of singing in church choirs, not only did she hold her own with the older contestants; she managed to register all the way to the final round.
Although seemingly shy and reticent when she first took to the stage, the ability she possessed to move her fingers over the notes of her keyboard with fluidity, purpose, and expression was excelled only by the clear intonation and sound of the notes emanating from between her lips; a sound that reminded me of Shakespeare when he wrote, ‘The earth has music for those who listen. When words are scare they are rarely spent in vain.’
Now a senior at S.A.S.A. (The Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy) Hope Currie has evolved considerably in the few years since her debut at the Y-Vibe, and can be found filling seats for Happy Hour at the Davenport Inn Lounge every Thursday from 5:00-7:00 PM. With a repertoire that spans the range of Stevie Wonder to Coldplay, the manner in which she re-invents and re-phrases her cover material is matched only by the simple astute wisdom behind the words of her original material, which she is adding to every day.
“When I was little I would sing a lot in the car and dance around and stuff,” explains Hope when asked about her interest in music started. “My Mom took me to church and put me in the choir when I was five or six years-old; and then my Dad signed me up for music lessons with Noel Howland when I was eight years-old. I really just wanted to be a singer and wasn’t interested in learning any instruments, or developing any talents beyond my voice; but Noel told me that musicians need to be self-reliant, so she convinced me to learn and taught me how to play the piano.”
At the time Noel was teaching at S.A.S.A., Hope was attending a small school in AuGres, so her father Alan would drive her an hour to and from her performing arts classes in Saginaw every day for three years.
“I really didn’t like the piano to begin with and it was a challenge to learn my scales and fundamentals, but when I started writing music in the 6th grade and attending my voice/keyboard classes, that got me interested, because I loved singing my own music and writing my own songs. I knew that I had to know the piano better to write cooler songs, and now I love playing it.”
After taking lessons for 10 years and studying with the likes of Mike Brush (“He introduced me to a lot of contemporary music and taught me how to play jazz) Hope began focusing more intently on her songwriting acumen.
“A couple of other students started writing songs in my voice and keyboard classes and got a good reaction from it, so I thought I’d take a shot at writing and then the songs just started coming out,” she explains. “I started writing like crazy and composed 12 songs and performed them for the class. I wrote a lot about my past and what I was feeling in general.”
When asked about artists that helped influence her songwriting, Hope again points to her instructor, Noel Howland. “Noel introduced me to material by Jewel and Sheryl Crow and I was drawn to their stylistic range and how they wrote and performed their own music and made a living at it. Now I listen to a lot of singer/songwriters because that’s what I try to aim for stylistically, because of my own interpretative style of singing. I should have about 13 songs on my CD when it gets released and have tons of songs on pieces of paper laying around in my basement,” she laughs.
As for how the creative writing process works for her, Hope says that she always constructs a solid melody first. “I always have different melodies in my head and that’s what people like most about my songs, because they’re catchy. I like making the hook first and then like to reel in the audience.”
“Once the music is completed I write the lyrics, based on the tone of the song,” she continues. “It’s much easier to fit the piano to the melody and then add the lyrics afterwards.”
While her weekly gig at the D.I. Lounge is her first professional regular appearances, Hope has also played at Spencer’s and Bennigan’s and different venues for one-night stands, noting that whenever Noel Howland has an acoustic gig, she encourages Hope to sit in for a number or two.
Despite her natural and evolving talent, Hope does find challenges presented by her focus on creating music. “For me the most challenging thing is remembering the lyrics to other peoples’ music. I know my own songs inside and out, but I really enjoy changing other peoples’ music to my own style, and remembering the lyrics is probably the hardest thing for me. It’s like memorizing a play sometimes.”
Hope is also engaged in creative collaborations with other musicians. “I’ve been working with a producer, Rusty Howard, who goes by the name of Rusty Glock and we wrote a song together and entered it into competition. This worked out really well. I wrote the song and melody and verse and then he added a Rap and some beats and it was really cool.”
“People can’t really pigeonhole me,” states Hope. “I like all kinds of music and songs from one spectrum to the other, which opens up a world of possibilities creatively.”
As one might surmise, Hope is intent upon pursuing her passion for music professionally as a career. “All the money I am making here at the DI Lounge I’ve been saving for college,” she explains. “I’m looking at going to school at Berkley in Boston or Columbia in Chicago, which are pretty pricey schools; but I figure if this is what I want to do the rest of my life I should go to a college that will set me up for the rest of my life.”
In terms of cover material, Hope strives to change her set list up consistently. “I know that audiences tend to enjoy upbeat material but I need to find songs that fit my voice, as I have a jazzier and more mellow type of vocal style, so I try to keep everything in balance. I can go down to a low ‘D’ note and have a fairly high 3-octave range, but I’m no Mariah Carey and am most comfortable singing in lower registers.”
As a full time student, Hope is pleased with her current schedule and enjoying the strong response that she is receiving at the D.I. Lounge. “Thursdays have been such an adrenalin rush,” she exclaims. “I love performing in front of people and watching their reactions to my songs and really love the DI and everybody working there. The audience really tends to appreciate my material there and they don’t complain. Everybody is listening but they’re not focused on me entirely, so if I mess up, it’s not like they are judging me. They just enjoy what is happening and that allows me the latitude to try new things out.”
And as I have noted numerous times in these pages, Saginaw and the Tri-Cities in general, are a veritable breeding ground and hot-bed of new talent, which never ceases to amaze one’s sensibilities.
Just the other day somebody asked if I was concerned about a downturn in new faces and music surfacing. My response: ‘Trust me, there is Hope!’
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)