The Listening Room last night was filled with people, most of whom I did not know. I made some new friends and visited with those I did know.
Brenda Bledsoe, Summerlyn Powers and Madison Grace took the stage and began to tell us their stories.
All three ladies are from Baldwin County. All three are new or relatively new in the singer/songwriter business. Two of them Summerlyn Powers (17), and Madison Grace (18) are so young, yet so talented. I have known Brenda Bledsoe for a few years but most of those years were listening to her play the flute, which she does beautifully. Brenda is a skilled singer/songwriter musician now and she shares her artistry and talent with us all.
The show started out with Brenda singing her song “Prairie Fire”. She explained it was written about a time when she was falling in love with her husband. “We were just 22...I still taste the moment I fell for you”….”Prairie fire... with love rising high”…she painted the picture with her song of two young people in the mountains of the midwest. Her words continued...“beneath the western sky, love rising high”… Summerlyn, who was standing next to Brenda, chimed in on the chorus and added her bold voice to the mix, lifting the song up. It was impressive; as often when you are dealing with “Newbies”, they don’t yet have the courage to jump in and back-up others in a round. So right away Summerlyn impressed me.
(This song made me want to fall in love again…even though I am not 22 anymore…love truly has no age limit).
Brenda also sang a song about a “Grateful Heart” and one called “My Man”, which surprised me. I could feel the edgy anger of a woman protecting what is hers….reminiscent of “You ain’t woman enough to take my man”-Loretta Lynn
My favorite song Brenda did last night was “Dirty Water”. I had heard it during the SouthSounds Music Festival and was happy to hear it once again.
Summerlyn Powers was the wild card for me last night. I had never heard her nor heard of her. I checked the internet and social media earlier in the day to get an idea of what she may sound like. I knew she was only 17 years old, so I expected her to be shy. She was not, I would even say she was bold. Summerlyn started out with a song called “Blue Satin Lace”. It turns out those words Blue-Satin-Lace may be code words for “Hiney”….She said, “life is such a race, if you have a problem with my vintage grace, then you can kiss my BLUE SATIN LACE!”
Summerlyn has a powerful voice and a great stage presence- Both are important to have in this business; she has a brightness that is real (some call it star quality).
Summerlyn told of a songwriting retreat she attended in California. She wrote a song about a letter written to herself. “I wrote a break-up letter to myself” is what she said. I perked up to hear more. In this song she explains how she had perhaps lost herself over time and is trying to figure out who she is now. I certainly could relate to that feeling.
Another of her songs that caught my ear was “After Midnight”. I absolutely loved it when she said, “My father says nothing good ever happens after midnight!” Of course I suppose all fathers feel that way when thinking about their daughters growing up and experiencing life for themselves. She wrote this song while on a European cruise I believe.
Then there is Madison Grace. I have heard Madison before and I even heard her on TV that morning. It was Studio 10 and she sang “Never Say Die”. As Madison pointed out, some of her material has a dark moodiness. She is right and “Never Say Die” is one of them. I believe music needs to have the light and the darkness to be complete. Life itself shows us both the heavy and light, so expressing it in music is necessary.
Madison is rising fast in her music pursuits. She has been compared to people such as Lady Gaga. She plays the keyboard, unlike the other two who played primarily guitar. Madison feels right at home on the stage. She has no problem speaking directly to the audience and that is a necessary part of any performance. Of course her singing voice is spectacular and her beauty is beyond compare, however, the ability to connect with your audience is the missing piece for many new artist. It is not missing for Madison.
Madison has a new song that will be recorded soon and she described it as “something spiritual”to her. I recall these words, “Put your body over me…show me what I need…grab me by the waist, hold me close…this feels like an overdose.”
I guess you might say it is spiritual...sexy, maybe?...that can lift your spirits too!
The show was one to remember. It was an unusual matching of 3 singer/songwriters who are on the cusp of their careers. I wish all 3 great success and I hope their journeys are filled with adventure and love.
Thank you to Brenda Bledsoe, Summerlyn Powers and Madison Grace
Thank you to Jim Pennington and The Listening Room for this show
Thank you to the audience that helped to make the evening a success