BMI Acoustic Lounge – Los Angeles

Held on the first Monday of every month for the last 10 years, the performing rights organization BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) brought a new wave of talent to the stage yesterday night, marking the beginning of an excellent winter in the West Coast music scene.

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Organized like a round, or for my dancers out there, a cypher, four young singer-songwriters brought three of their best to the intimate stage of the legendary Genghis Cohen restaurant and venue off Melrose and Fairfax in trendy West Hollywood.

Patrons lined up to take a seat on one of the many benches lined up facing the stage, like a train car getting ready for departure from the platform of our every day lives.

Up first was Latin actress and artist Ilza Rosario. Teamed up with her skilled guitarist, Ilza brought a unique and distinctly Latin flavor to the table for our first course. Starting out with a bang, her first song showcased her breathy, sultry vocals, which were both shockingly expressive and controlled. As the round came back for her a second time, Ilza displayed her talent for rapping and expertly weaving a tapestry of Spanish lyrics together, to draw in Spanish speakers and English speakers alike. The rhythms and emotions of her last two songs, especially demonstrated in “Hollywood”, a song which spoke of the irony of the Hollywood Walk of Fame – how the stars are below our feet, and not in the sky – brought the final punch to the audience. We may not have understood every word, but we were completely captivated all the same.

Following Ilza was the energetic indie artist Ryan Calhoun. In partnership with his guitar and catchy power chords, Calhoun brought a fresh, Nashville-esc energy that the round sorely needed. Rising above the often dark, brooding emotion of his contemporaries, Calhoun’s catchy hooks and chant sections brought the audience the refreshment we needed before continuing on in the round.  A particular favorite, centered around a girl as the reason “Why I Drink Coffee”, could have easily been the holiday jingle for a heartwarming coffee commercial. From car wrecks to coffee shops, Calhoun brought us full circle in the ebb and flow of relationships, using bright metaphors and memorable punch lines to inevitably bring the audience’s hands together every time.

Next up we had newcomer Sonia Rao. Relatively new to the music scene, Rao brought a rawness and devotion to her craft which was evident and admirable. Starting her set with a nod to my hometown, Minneapolis, I couldn’t help but be sold on the young artist. From round to round, Rao brought an intimacy and honesty that was unparalleled throughout the night, matched with a realness and power in her vocals which was simply stunning. Her ambition to create music that was helpful not only to herself, but to others, is exactly what the music industry needs more of, and we were happy to have it showcased to the music lovers of Genghis Cohen and BMI.

On the corner of the stage sat a powerful presence waiting her turn to shine. Latin singer-songwriter, Sharin, whom we’ve had the pleasure of covering before, ended round one with her Spanish ballad “Facil”, a beautiful ode to how easy love can (and should) be. Her second contribution, “Over You”, had been previously pitched to the likes of P!nk and Kelly Clarkson before being ultimately placed on her own EP “Quiero”. From song to song, Sharin showed the audience through her powerful vocals, her expert use of control and emotion, and her carefully crafted pop phrasing that she is a fire ready to be set on the popular music scene. Ending the night with her hit Spanish track, “Sin Ti”, Sharin encompassed everything a Latin-pop artist should aspire to be – soulful, powerful, passionate, and hungry.

Follow the links above to learn more about each artist, and we look forward to hearing more about their blossoming careers as they continue to break on the Los Angeles music scene.

The next BMI Acoustic Lounge will be held at Genghis Cohen on January 5th at 7pm. No cover. 

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

Behind the Scenes with Sharin

Today I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dominican singer-songwriter, Sharin, who made her live debut in Los Angeles this past Tuesday.

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How did this journey begin for you? Did you always know you wanted to pursue music as a career? 

Music was always the plan. I didn’t take it very seriously until I was about 12, but I always sang from a young age. I started playing piano when I was 6, began writing my own songs when I was 9, and was singing in the church all the time.

When Selena died it really made me want to pursue music because it hit me so hard – she was a huge influence in my life. I started to sing a lot more in church and to sing more of my idols’ songs as practice. At school I was always doing the National Anthems and then I went to a college in Kansas on a vocal scholarship, but it wasn’t a good fit, so after a year I moved to Miami to really focus on my career in music.

In Miami I was doing it all: modeling, the Miss Universe/Miss Florida pageant, contacting label people, I became good friends with an A&R at Sony… But three months later, I was diagnosed with cancer and had to stop everything.

You’re very open with your battle with stage 4 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer. How has this experience shaped you and your music? 

I don’t think a person so young who has never had any health problems would ever think they would have cancer, which for me was essentially a death sentence. I was in a really bad state because I was stubborn and didn’t want to go to the doctor. They said if I had waited another week I wouldn’t be here today. Music is what kept me going because I kept feeling like it wasn’t my time yet.

My battle with cancer has given me purpose more than anything. I think I now have a good sense of life in terms of how fragile it is, and have gained a deep understanding for people who suffer and feel alone, and feel pain. As far as music goes, when I get on that stage it’s just full passion – I just want to communicate, I want people to be moved constantly. That’s my goal.

You’ve spent time all over the country – Tampa, Boston (Berklee College of Music), Miami, and now LA – how have these experiences inspired you? 

It’s amazing, I’ve always lived on the East Coast. I have a good sense of what Miami, Boston, and NYC are like. Being on the West Coast now I don’t have as many connections, so it’s super inspiring. To know the major cities in the country is an honor and a privilege. The mountains, the sunlight – California definitely inspires me.


How has the past year in LA changed your career and your outlook on your future in the music industry? 

Before, I was a door away from my audience and my market, now I’m directly at the source. I’ve met so many encouraging people. It’s very young out here, and I love that. It’s very creatively driven – which is different than the East Coast. In LA you’ll run across people trying to do acting, trying to write, dance, trying to do music, it’s very creative more than anything.

What is the impact you hope to have on the music industry? 

I hope to be the first female Latin voice that does really good quality pop music but plays guitar, plays piano, composes her own songs… I want to be the first Latin woman to do that in a soulful way.

What advice would you give to other people following their dreams, specifically in music? 

Education is key. They need to be educated – on the business, on their craft. At the end of the day, this is a business and it’s a very serious one, and no one will take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously. No one has your back, only you, and knowledge is everything.

What is next for Sharin? 

Eventually, I’d like to be touring internationally, to collaborate with great artists that I admire, and to start my own label. I love discovering new talent and helping them grow. I’d especially like to do that in the Dominican Republic. There’s a lot of talent out there and not enough help. I’d like to help the talent be educated and not be stuck in the old business model that can be very exploitative over there.

My immediate goal is to create a stronger internet presence and stronger fan base so I can really penetrate my market and the people that appreciate my style of music. I want to continue to make my social media presence stable and constant so people have a sense of expectancy from me.

 

To learn more about Sharin and to hear her newly released EP “Quiero”, head to www.sharinmusic.com.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

Sharin LIVE at The Mint

Latin singer-songwriter Sharin hit the LA stage for the first time on Tuesday night, lighting up The Mint with her irresistible charm and heartwarming music.

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Sharin, who moved to LA less than a year ago, has lived all over the country, starting in Tampa, FL, where she was born and raised and first fell in love with music. By the age of 9, she was composing her own pieces using a variety of instruments. The Berklee graduate brought an acoustic guitar with her to the stage for this performance, a show that was originally meant to be a full band experience, but due to unforeseen circumstances, became a one-woman presentation.

Sharin handled the situation with grace and sang her original music in not one, but three languages during her set at The Mint. From her opening number “Over You” to her Spanish hit “Sin Ti” to the Portuguese rendition of the title track of her newly released EP “Quiero”, Sharin was able to captivate the audience regardless of the language in which she sang. This ability to draw in a primarily English-speaking audience reflects on her unique capabilities as a songwriter and as a performer.

When watching Sharin, it is evident that her love for music runs deep, and has been influenced by the ups and downs she has experienced in her life. From attending one of the most rigorous musical programs in the world to battling stage 4 Non Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer, Sharin has landed in LA with the determination to share her love for life and music with the world. We wish her all the best in doing so.

To learn more about Sharin and to hear her newly released EP “Quiero”, head to www.sharinmusic.com.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.