Ginny Blackmore

Every now and then a song comes along that’s so intriguing, it captures the heart of everyone who hears it. “Bones,” the debut single from Ginny Blackmore, is one of those songs – a heartwrenching story of unrequited love. Though written during a painful time, the song has transformed Blackmore from a struggling singer and songwriter from Auckland, New Zealand, into one of Epic Records’ most captivating pop newcomers.

With this deeply personal ballad, Blackmore impressed veteran music manager Mark Sudack who signed her on the spot. Sudack brought her in to Epic Records Chairman & CEO L.A. Reid in November 2011. “That was the most magical day of my life,” says Blackmore, “I had to sing ‘Bones’ for L.A. twice, because the first time I was so nervous about the gravity of the moment that I choked. He said, ‘You have one of the best voices I’ve ever heard, and that’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, so why are you shy? I need you to come out of yourself and sing it again. I never give anyone a second chance, but clearly you’re a star.’” She nailed it the second time, reducing everyone in the room to tears and landing herself a record deal.

Blackmore has wanted to be a performer ever since her 9-year-old mind was blown by Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2. Raised by a singer-musician father who ran her childhood church’s worship services, Blackmore wasn’t often exposed to secular music, “so watching Lauryn Hill was the first time I heard hip-hop, R&B and soul. I remember so clearly how excited I was. I came out of the theater and was like, ‘Dad, what was that?’ I was so impacted by it, I said to him, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ I chose music that day.”

By age 15, Blackmore had fallen in love with pop and R&B artists like Destiny’s Child, Usher, Pink, Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson. She began to write her own songs and left school at age 16 at the principal’s suggestion. “I was allowed to leave school provided I treated songwriting like a job,” Blackmore says. “I had to work from nine to five, five days a week.”

After four years of hard work, Blackmore moved to London and within six months, she had signed with her friend Daniel Bedingfield’s management, which led to a publishing deal with Sony/ATV. The plan was to earn a living writing songs for other people while plotting her own path to becoming an artist. “The problem was that I found it really hard to write for other people. Because I wanted to sing my own songs so badly, my heart wasn’t really in it. My songwriting wasn’t taking off, my personal life was painful…. Something in me cracked, and my songwriting dramatically changed.” Blackmore stopped taking writing sessions with other people. “I stayed at home all day on my own and wrote and sang whatever I wanted, it was my therapy,” she says.

From New Zealand to London, and now London to Los Angeles, Blackmore is finally where she wants to be: in the studio recording her debut album, an emotional, statement-making pop affair, a showcase for Blackmore’s painstaking approach songwriting and powerhouse voice, which she pushes to its limits, confiding her hopes and heartbreaks with a vulnerability that’s unmatched.

“The music is as honest as I could make it,” she says. “It’s my perspective on life, and I really hope people can hear themselves in it somewhere.”

Click here to download “Bones” from iTunes. Visit Ginny Blackmore’s website here.

And watch the video for “Bones” here:

Labrinth

Born Timothy McKenzie into a family of nine musically gifted siblings, Labrinth has certainly made a name for himself in music. As a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, the London-based 24 year old has accomplished far more than artists twice his age.

Labrinth began writing and producing records at the age of 15. Following chart success in the UK as both a writer and producer, Labrinth was approached in June, 2010 and signed to Simon Cowell’s record label, Syco. The signing marked a milestone for the label, with Labrith becoming their first artist in six years that didn’t break out of one of Syco’s television programs.

Through Cowell’s label, Labrinth released his debut single “Let The Sun Shine” in September, 2010 in the United Kingdom. The track debuted at number three in the UK. It was the first of six singles from his #2 ranked UK debut studio album Electronic Earth, which was released in April, 2012. The fourth single released from the album was a remake of “Express Yourself” (made popular by US rap act NWA), which has recently garnered massive exposure in the United States through its use in a Microsoft Windows 8 commercial. Labrinth has five Top 5 singles on the UK Singles Chart to his credit so far, including his first number one single in November, 2012 with “Beneath Your Beautiful” featuring Emeli Sandé. Sandé, winner of the 2013 Brit Awards for Best British Female and Best British Album as well as the 2012 Brit “Critics Choice” award (previously won by both Adele and Florence & the Machine) is also achieving chart success in the US with her current single “Next To Me”.

“Beneath Your Beautiful” was written by Labrinth, Emeli Sandé and Mike Posner (known for his own Top 10 pop hit “Cooler than Me”, and for writing/producing the 3x platinum Justin Bieber smash “Boyfriend”). To date, “Beneath Your Beautiful” has sold over 1 million copies worldwide. It has been a Top 10 single in 20 countries, reaching #1 in both the UK and Ireland. The track is now poised to break on US radio! Check out the video here:

Click here to download “Beneath Your Beautiful” from iTunes. Visit Labrinth’s website here.

The Lumineers

Vulnerable. Honest. Heart-on-the-sleeve. The Lumineers’ particular sound will grab you and take you somewhere few of us allow ourselves to go – to that exposed part of your heart that’s just aching for someone to put words to the way it feels to love, to lose and to let go.

Bandleader Wesley Schultz lost his best friend at 19 from a drug overdose. He found solace in music, along with his late friend’s younger brother, Jeremiah Fraites. Their passion for the art form was born out of heartache, but that passion helped to heal and eventually grew to writing songs and playing gigs and trying to make it in the cutthroat music scene of New York City.

In 2011, the trio released a self-produced album, booked themselves a tour and headed out to bring their stomp-and-clap sound to the masses. Their front-porch-folk take on love and life is perfectly timed for the roots revival of the last few years; listeners are hungry for a new generation of emotion in music, where souls are laid bare and production is stripped down to a few instruments and clear, strong voices.Hoping for a fresh start, but not wanting to give up their music, the two packed up and headed to Denver. Once there, they placed an ad on Craigslist for a cellist, and the first person to answer was Neyla Pekarek. Classically trained on the cello, she added a softness to the boys’ grit and eventually picked up the mandolin and piano.

Not surprisingly, fans reacted passionately to the live Lumineers experience. People coming together, making beauty out of tragedy – a force of musical solidarity against isolation, adversity and despair. Their success on the road led to their signing with Dualtone Records and their first full-length album.

Full of acoustic-based, Americana-inflected songs ranging from folk and gospel to rock and roll, The Lumineers is a powerful study in what unites us – falling in love and then losing it, sacrifice and stubbornness, and the yearning to have our hearts known.

Click here to visit The Lumineers’ website, and click here to download their single “Ho Hey.”

Paloma Faith

She’s outspoken, a fashion chameleon, a petite power-packed vocalist and now…soul-baring songwriter. But Paloma Faith’s theatrical glitz and glam isn’t going anywhere. It’s a part of her, just like the emotion that inspired the songwriting on her latest studio effort.

Born in London, Faith has been making serious waves on the UK music and fashion scene since 2009. Her commanding stage presence and penchant for flamboyant costumes have made her performances legendary. Says Faith, “A lot of people write songs because they want to record them in a studio, they want to put their feelings out there….I write songs so I can perform them.”

Fall to Grace has all the panache that her fans have come to love and expect, but is more varied and introspective than her earlier albums. From the disco-throbbing anthem “Blood, Sweat and Tears” to the heartfelt lead single “Picking Up The Pieces,” we start to see what makes her tick.

“At the beginning I wanted to do something that was more of a performance, and I still have that element because it is part of me,” she explains. “But I feel like where I’ve been most successful is when I’ve just relaxed and been myself. I feel totally, wholeheartedly behind this album. I feel like it belongs to me and I belong to it.”

Indeed, Fall to Grace is somewhat of a soundtrack to her life. The song “30 Minute Love Affair” recounts the true experience of an encounter with a street musician when she was 14. And “Just Be” illustrates the kind of love that exists between real lovers – “It’s saying, ‘He gets on my nerves, but I love him.’ This is a more knowing take on romance,” says Faith.

Now, poised to conquer the U.S. with an upcoming tour, Paloma Faith is digging deep and coming up with more than just frothy entertainment. “I’m taking bad things that have happened and letting them turn me into a more complete person….when anything bad happens to you in life, you always lose a bit of yourself, but then you heal over….even though you’ve lost something, you become stronger.”

She’s put this into practice with stronger songs, stronger vocals, stronger stage presence. This next chapter of Paloma Faith’s musical journey is going to be really, really fun.

Click here to visit Paloma Faith’s website. Download Faith’s single “Picking Up The Pieces” by clicking here.

Tino Coury

Tino Coury thinks everything happens for a reason. From the guitar he received in a Christmas grab-bag in the 7th grade to the wrist injury that sidelined his budding football career – everything has been leading up to now, his big music moment.

That moment being the fall release of his debut full-length album, This One’s For. But Coury’s moment hasn’t happened overnight. His very first single, “Diary,” reached top-40 status in 2010, he produced a six-song EP called Page One in 2011 and most recently released the video for the first single of his new album, “Drink My Love Away.”

“Drink My Love Away,” along with plenty of other songs on the upcoming record, has a fierce beat, catchy melody and the soulful, story-based lyrics of a young troubadour. He looks to Justin Timberlake for inspiration on songwriting and production, but also performance. Says Coury, “I want to give people that same rush I feel when I’m watching my favorite artists.”

And Coury’s had his fair share of chances to channel JT lately. He’s performed with Jason Derulo, Drake, Train, Mike Posner, Kelly Rowland, Kris Allen and the Backstreet Boys, among others. But though he’s focused on entertaining the masses with his own work, Coury is hopeful to one day write for and produce other artists.

In fact, his own career started off with him in the basement laundry room of his parents’ house, filling up a makeshift recording studio with birthday and Christmas gifts slightly different from what his peers were asking for. His keen sense of rhythm, as well as his Roland 8-track recorder, developed as he learned keyboards, bass and drums, and before graduating high school he was writing, producing and recording his own music.

Though Coury was a talented musician at a young age, it wasn’t until his senior year of high school when a shattered wrist kept him from pursuing college football that he realized that his passion for music could be a way to heal from those broken dreams. “Being an athlete and starting a music career are more alike than many would think,” says Coury. “When it comes to work ethic, practice, teamwork, drive, passion, all of those things come into play if you want to be successful in music or sports or really any career path you choose.”

It may not have been his original plan, but the music business was just waiting for Tino Coury to come around. Now, he’s here – and if the new album says anything, he’ll be around for a long time.

Check Tino out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tinocoury

And follow him on Twitter: @tinocoury

Download the song: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/drink-my-love-away-single/id538809180

Walk the Moon

There’s a good chance you know who Nicholas Petricca, Kevin Ray, Sean Waugaman and Eli Maiman are. You may have seen them out and about in OTR, grabbing a bite to eat at a local joint, or even at the grocery store. Your sister or brother or cousin might have gone to high school with one of them. So you might be surprised to see them on MTV or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. But don’t be. These Cincy natives make up the band Walk the Moon – and they’re blowing up.

Recently signed by RCA, Walk the Moon released their first official album in June. The self-titled album features “Anna Sun” – named the song of the summer by Esquire, Seventeen and MTV. Front man Petricca says it’s meant to symbolize youth: “It’s about college, about maintaining that little bit of being a kid,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to play.”

The band certainly doesn’t forget to do that. A hallmark of their live shows, as well as the “Anna Sun” video, is their characteristic face paint. Before eachconcert they deck themselves out in tribal colors and patterns and bring enough to share with the audience as well.

It’s this exuberance for connecting with their fans, as well as playing catchy, relatable music that’s landed Walk the Moon in the spotlight. Their art-pop style is full of tight harmonies, funky riffs and anthem-like vocals. And until recently, they were getting noticed for it without even having a label.

Unsigned, Walk the Moon released a debut LP called i want! i want! that caught the attention of many new fans across the country as well as Michael McDonald, owner of Mick Artists Management, which represents John Mayer and Ray LaMontagne. As a result, they stepped up their touring schedule adding spots at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, SXSW and more.

Now teamed up with RCA, the band’s gearing up for their first European tour this fall. After that – the sky’s the limit. But to Walk the Moon, Cincinnati will always be home. Says Maiman, “It’s always nice to be able to just come home and be with our families after being out on the road for months and months. We love representing Cincinnati. We’re extremely proud to be from Cincinnati…and know that the city will keep supporting us as they have in such an amazing way.”

Check out their website here: http://walkthemoonband.com/.

Download ”Anna Sun” here: https://ec.smcdp.net/welcome?key=F31BAE94-785B-1D23-683D-2105A3F68923

Usher

When you’ve been around for nearly 20 years with seven records under your belt, there may not be anything left for you to do that hasn’t been done before. That is, unless you’re Usher.

Usher’s goal for his latest record, Looking 4 Myself, is to bring forth a new genre of music – “revolutionary pop” that combines several different genres into a cohesive new sound. “Scream” is the latest single to come from this album, and its electropop feel is certainly something fresh from this artist who despite his longevity on the music seen has never seen a slump.

Usher Raymond IV got his start in a Chattanooga church choir at the age of nine. When his grandmother and mother discovered his burgeoning singing abilities, they moved their family to Atlanta where he would join up with R&B group NuBeginnings at age 11. But he didn’t experience success until he competed on “Star Search” at age 13, where he was immediately spotted and signed by LaFace Records.

His first album, released in 1994, featured several tracks produced by Sean “Diddy” Combs and rose to number 25 on the Billboard charts. It wasn’t until the release of My Way and 8701 that he became a household name. “You Make Me Wanna,” “Nice & Slow,” “U Remind Me” and “U Got it Bad” are just some of the hits from his first major studio efforts.

Usher hit his stride in 2004 with the release of Confessions, which has the highest first-week sales for any R&B artist in history and had a record-breaking four singles that topped the Billboard Hot 100. Usher’s 2008 album Here I Stand also didn’t disappoint – it was certified platinum and sold more than 5 million copies.

In March 2010, coming on the tails of his divorce from wife Tameka Fisher, Usher released his sixth album, the somewhat autobiographical Raymond v. Raymond, which quickly debuted at number one – his third consecutive number-one album. He quickly followed up with Versus, an extended-play he described as “the last chapter of Raymond v. Raymond.” The mega-hits “OMG” and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” came from these two records.

He’s sold more than 65 million albums worldwide making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He’s received countless awards including seven Grammys, seven American Music Awards, nine Soul Train Music Awards and an amazing 20 Billboard Music Awards. It’s only right that the next thing on Usher’s list is to start a music revolution.

Philip Phillips

Fresh from his victory on “American Idol,” Philip Phillips isn’t wasting any time. His single “Home” was the highest debut on the Billboard Digital songs chart. Now he’s hitting the studio to record his first album, no doubt showcasing his soulful, raspy vocals and masterful guitar skills.

Phillips has spent his whole life in Georgia – born in Leesburg, grew up in Sassar, college in Albany – but before he could graduate college with a degree in Industrial Systems Technology, he got swept up in an “American Idol” success story. A record-breaking 132 million votes were cast before Phillips beat out Jessica Sanchez for the title.

Starting at age 14, Phillips learned a few chords on the guitar from his sister’s boyfriend and was immediately in love. He kept at it on his own and eventually, in 2009, formed an acoustic band with his sister and his former mentor (now brother-in-law), playing local shows and festivals sometimes just for free food.

Though it may be hard to believe based on his success on “Idol,” Phillips wasn’t always comfortable with singing onstage. “I used to always keep my singing to myself and never let anyone hear me, but then my sister and brother-in-law caught me one night and told me I had to start singing in the band,” he says. “We played at a church that Sunday and the room was packed and I thought I was going to pass out, but I did it.”

With his family’s encouragement, Phillips auditioned for “Idol” in the summer of 2011. He soon found himself singing for millions every week, performing selections from the greats like Creedence Clearwater Revival and Otis Redding. The time for stage-fright was surely past.

Now on the verge of recording and releasing his debut album, Phillips is full-steam ahead. “I’m still so amazed at how this has worked out,” he says. “I never imagined that it would get to this level. I’m so excited to just get going and have a great time doing it.” Naturally, he’s already got a clear vision of what this first record will bring to listeners – expect acoustic-driven rock with an earthy, authentic sound.

To purchase “Home,” click here.

 

 

Alex Clare

Alex Clare isn’t in a rush to get on stage to promote his album The Lateness of the Hour – he’s taking his time, building a band piece by piece. After spending a whirlwind year creating it, he wants to be sure everything is perfect before his live sound reaches the masses.

For Clare, music has always been something to respect. Born and raised in Southeast London, Clare began his training on trumpet, moving on to drums as a better channel for all his nervous energy. His older siblings spent time listening to Oasis and Alanis Morisette, but Clare wanted more from music. He turned to jazz and blues and soul which undoubtedly have influenced his current sound.

Clare started training as a chef while playing and teaching himself piano and guitar, but he couldn’t resist bringing his original material to open mic nights around London. Eventually, songwriting took over as his main source of income, and Clare honed his craft while he lived on a boat traveling from Essex down the Thames, ending up in Brighton. As he delved deeper into songwriting, Clare says, “ I started putting whatever had happened to me – the women and the mistakes – into the songs.”

Some demos made it to Island Records, and two weeks later a came a deal. Clare headed to New Orleans to cut some tracks like “Up All Night” and “Tight Rope” with the likes of Switch and Diplo (who’ve worked with Major Lazer and M.I.A.) for The Lateness of the Hour.
More traveling resulted in more songs, which resulted in an album that combines his beloved soul and jazz with the trendier synth of funk and dubstep, and a little punk rock thrown in for good measure. Clare’s latest from the album, “Too Close”, has a thrumming bassline and anthem chords that are sure to project it into the chart-topping stratosphere.

Though his slow-going assembly of a tour band may seem a little obsessive, he believes in allowing music the space and time it needs to become what it’s meant to be.

Says Clare, “All you need in a song is the bass, the kick and the snare. The rest is just commentary….There are so many sounds you can put on a song….It’s all about quality, not quantity.”

Click here to buy “Too Close” by Alex Clare!

Crystal Bowersox

Can anything good come out of Toledo, Ohio? America certainly thinks so – Northwest Ohio native and graduate of the Toledo School for the Arts Crystal Bowersox was one of the last two standing on season nine of “American Idol,” a crowd favorite and the first female finalist since Jordin Sparks in 2007.

With her gritty powerhouse voice and raw, natural talent, it’s no wonder the audience and judges knew early on to expect big things from Bowersox. And she hasn’t let them down. Since her season of “Idol” wrapped, Bowersox has signed with Jive records, recorded her debut album and toured with a bevy of top recording artists. Crystal even played at the 2010 Q102 Bosom Ball for Breast Cancer with Angel Taylor, Vivi Brown and Sara Bareilles.

But this new-found fame and household-name status is a recent and very different experience from the life Bowersox led before Idol. A struggling musician, she began her music career by performing gospel music in her church and playing in Toledo bars. After moving to Chicago at the age of 17, she busked in train stations and frequented open mics to earn money.

And though she is happily married to musician Brian Walker, Bowersox hasn’t always had it easy in the love department, either. She’s a single mom to a young son from a previous relationship. During her time on “American Idol,” Crystal dated Tony Kusian, but the couple broke up mere hours before the show’s finale. As she told Ryan Seacrest, “He went home. He wasn’t cool with the lifestyle. He’s a small-town guy and it’s fine, but I’m a small-town girl and I want this. I want this more than anything – this career, this lifestyle. I didn’t think he was up for it.”

Also during “Idol,” Crystal announced that she has type 1 diabetes and was hospitalized in March of 2010 as a result of the illness. Now that she has opened up about having diabetes, she plans to use her career in the spotlight to bring more awareness to the disease.

You can preview and purchase Crystal Bowersox’s new single, “Ridin with the Radio,” here.

Keep up with Crystal on Facebook by becoming a fan!