Artistry in Motion: BRIA SKONBERG

Jazz Singer, Songwriter & Trumpet Player Extraordinaire Returns to The State Theatre September 19th

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, National Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 815   By: Robert E Martin

03rd September, 2015     0

One ‘not-to-be-missed’ musical performance that shines at the top of the constellation comprising the Autumn concert season is the return engagement of widely acclaimed New York-based trumpet player, vocalist, and songwriter, Bria Skonberg, who will be gracing the stage of Bay City’s State Theatre along with her Bach Stradivarius 43 trumpet and a seasoned line-up of back-up musicians on Saturday, September 19th at 7:00 PM.  

Amidst the cluttered landscape of popular music in the digital age Skonberg manages to soar above the competition with a seamless combination of natural musical talent, focused artistic instinct, and a creative vision that coalesces into a major chord of harmonic perfection, embracing a broad pallet of musical idioms. The end result is a dynamic and innovative sound, full of subtlety and nuance, yet built upon a firm foundation of Dixieland based Jazz mixed with equal amounts of innovative experimentation and rhythmic dexterity.

As critic Nicholas Mondollo best characterizes Bria’s abilities: “It’s a rare talent that can straddle – and dare request membership in – the trumpet artist continuum emanating from Louis Armstrong and progressing down through his ‘Neo Orleans’ progeny: Byron Stripling, Wynton Marsalis, and Nicholas Payton. She is not only indeed a triple threat musician – player, vocalist & composer – but also exhibits stylistic shades of Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington and Diana Krall. She has a beautiful voice – both soul sultry and innocent sweet – and an instrumentalist’s feel for melodic line and rhythm. Her vocal & horn chops intertwine seamlessly.”

The Wall Street Journal stated that Skonberg is “poised to be one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation” and in 2013 she earned a Jazz Journalists’ Association nomination for ‘Up & Coming Jazz Artist of the Year’ and was also included in Downbeat Magazine’s ‘Rising Star Critics’ Poll for 2013. Additionally, her sophomore album release So Is the Day, peaked at #7 on the US National jazz charts.

As an original composer, Skonberg demonstrates a remarkable range and sensibility, especially on songs from her third and latest release, entitled Into Your Own. Compositions such as Six More Weeks ride the stride of a subtle and memorable riff that builds into a crescendo of musical & vocal expressiveness; and on the outrageous and exhilarating Winin’ Boy Blues, Skonberg works her trumpet with a processed patch embedded into her mute that harkens the experimentation of Miles Davis and a sound akin to the distorted soaring guitar lines of Jimi Hendrix.

Since her regional debut at The State back in May 2014, Bria has witnessed growing traction and attention working the road and branching out from the embracing arms of the New York club scene. 

“It’s been a great year and I’ve toured a lot this summer,” she enthuses. “I’m performing a lot in New York City, which is still my home base; but I’ve been also touring a lot with pianist Dalton Ridenhour, who played with me at The State last year, along with a couple of great guys from Detroit: Pete Siers on drums and Paul Keller on bass. What I love about touring is developing relationships in different parts of the country, making new friends, and getting invited back for return engagements. There’s nothing like it!”

Skonberg has also been diligently working in the studio on new material for her next CD, which is slated for release in 2016 and says she’s been “putting a lot of effort into that process”

How are these new recording sessions evolving from her previous outings? “I think I’m evolving in terms of understanding my signature sound,” she reflects. “The challenge for me is finding a place where my trumpet playing rings with my vocal styling. My trumpet is kind of fiery and my voice has a rasp, but is on the softer side, so I’m trying to find songs and write arrangements that are vehicles for showcasing that.  I’ll be playing some of the new songs in Bay City and am definitely always evolving; only I’m not reaching outward so much as reaching inward at this point. It’s been a good year for that.”

Bria is also working with a new producer on her next album. “His name is Matt Pierson and he works with a lot of vocalists and has a nice clean quality. On the last album I experimented with different layering and effects and explored more modern sensibilities, but this new one is a little more acoustic oriented.”

With so much music available to listeners and a plethora of artists mingling various styles and fusing genres, is it a challenging line to cross in terms of creating a sound that remains true to Bria’s fundamental roots of Dixieland and Jazz? 

“I love music that fuses different elements, and love exploring that,” she explains. “But I will say that whatever music you do put out there has to be authentic, because in my experience, that’s what people are most drawn to. If you do something for the wrong reasons, people can hear it. I follow what my heart and ears tell me and that approach works out best for the most part. I try to be as authentic as possible and people tend to get that.”

“Being able to front my own concerts puts the responsibility upon me to keep the show fresh and engaging, she concludes. “I believe in performing a mixture of audience favorites along with introducing new material into each show; plus I play with people that are brilliant and I don’t want them to get bored.”

“I tend to work a lot of new material into the show and am very excited about returning to Bay City.  I love The State Theatre – it has lots of character; and every concert is a unique experience.  If I’m tuned into the character of each theatre and each audience then each show will be a different performing experience.”

Bria Skonberg will be performing at The State Theatre in Bay City on Saturday, September 19th at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for students.  Tickets can be purchased by going to or calling 989-892-2660. You can also purchase her CD’s by going to









Please login to comment



Current Issue


Don't have an account?