One of the many helpful things the non-profit music rights organization BMI does is produce showcases and events that spotlight new artists and gives a boost to the careers of artists ready to go to the next level. In LA this takes many forms, including a monthly BMI Acoustic Lounge at the Genghis Cohen venue featuring four artists with only guitar or keyboard accompaniment.
This weeks’ BMI Acoustic Lounge featured emerging artists Melie Malavasi, Shyanne, Jordan Casty and the established singer/songwriter Maggie Szabo, whose career took off with the release of her single “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes” last year. The pews at GC’s were packed and the back of the room was SRO as each performer moved through the BMI protocol of sing a song, wait for the others to sing and then sing another, for a total of three songs each.
As is always the case, each artist was talented and ready. Casty, the only male singer on the stage, performed not only well, but with humor and a smile that were infectious. You just could not help but love him. Meli Malavasi, a Costa Rican singer/songwriter now in LA and a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition took a little time to warm up in the cover she did of Chandelier but hit her stride on Hasta el Fin del Mundo and Hold Me, delivering with real emotion and all the right notes. Teen-aged CW singer/songwriter Shyanne gave us rock-solid country with more self-confidence than her 14 years would predict.
However it was Maggie Szabo who ran away with the show, no surprise given her popularity, the success of “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes” and her 13 million YouTube views. Maggie treated us to “Tidal Waves and Hurricanes”, which is a quite different experience in acoustic from the high energy, high tempo band version. The determination in the song seems even more serious when it is just her husky voice, powerful belt and balled up fists by her side. She means it and she doesn’t need reinforcement from the band.
But the real surprise from Maggie was a new unreleased song she road tested for the crowd, “Forgive and Forget”. Still in development, “Forgive and Forget” looks to be another breakout and it shows that Maggie has grown orders of magnitude since “Tidal Waves”, both in her songwriting and in her delivery. “Forgive and Forget” moved beyond Maggie’s sophisticated soul-pop into a depth of emotion and passion beyond what we have seen before. Chronicling the agony caused by an unfaithful lover, Maggie stilled the room with a musical wave of heartbreak and anger as skillfully delivered as any Grammy award winner. When the last note died, even the other musicians on stage with her were shaking their heads and saying “Wow!”.
No date yet on when “Forgive and Forget” will be released, or if it will be acoustic or backed by her band, but whichever and whenever, I think it will keep BMI pretty busy and Maggie in demand in venues around the country.