Mary Lambert is good at two things; crying and singing. Nowhere is this better reflected than on her debut EP Letters Don’t Talk. The collection of songs, released in 2012, established Mary as a formidable Seattle artist and caught the attention of local hip-hop duo, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, with whom she wrote and sang the same-sex rights anthem “Same Love”. The revolutionary single has allowed Mary’s voice to reach millions. She has toured nationally and performed live on The MTV Video Music Awards, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, VH1, and The Colbert Report. “Same Love” has sold over a million copies in the US alone, peaking at number 11 on The Billboard Hot 100. She recently released her newest single, “She Keeps Me Warm”. The music video for the song received over one million views in its first week. Mary graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Composition. She is also an award winning spoken-word artist. She published her debut book of poetry, 500 Tips for Fat Girls, in January of 2013. She plans to release her first full length record in 2014.
A Great Big World
Connections define music as much as notes, melodies, and rhythms do. When it strikes the right personal chords, an album can change moods, outlooks, and even lives. New York pop singer-and-songwriter duo A Great Big World—Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino—treasure the precious bond between artist and listener. Their full-length debut for Black Magnetic/Epic Records, Is There Anybody Out There?, forges an unbreakable link in that emotional chain.
In late 2013, everybody who had heard the group’s single “Say Something” reacted to it. After playing during a pivotal segment of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, this little song began its journey to becoming a big platinum-selling hit. The terse, tearful piano and Axel’s heavenly hypnotic vocals tugged on heartstrings worldwide. One heart that felt it especially hard belonged to none other than Christina Aguilera. “We got this email from her that was written like a poem about the song,” Axel recalls. “She told us that she wanted to work with us, and we were completely floored. We couldn’t believe it. A week later, we were in Los Angeles recording it with her. Now it’s even more universal, relatable, and broader in scope.”
“Everything just started happening after that,” Vaccarino goes on. “Soon, it was like we’d lived a whole lifetime in just a few months.”
A Great Big World went on to perform the song with Aguilera on NBC’s The Voice, and that version took off to #1 on iTunes. The same phenomena occurred after a heartfelt performance at The American Music Awards, which generated worldwide applause. They closed out the year bringing the audience at The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to its feet followed up by sold out New Year’s Eve gigs supporting Maroon 5. However, their journey formally begins with the 2014 release of Is There Anybody Out There?
Songs like “I Really Want It” coast forward on swinging piano and uplifting choruses that instantly invigorate and inspire. It’s pop with a purpose and a positive message. “It’s about committing to the fact that all we have is the moment,” Vaccarino reveals. “We only have right now. There is no future and no past, so we should do what we want to.”
“The song was a confidence builder,” Axel agrees. “It goes back to the origins of the group. We didn’t want to get stuck in our day jobs. We knew that we had to do this now and take control.”
Elsewhere on the album, “Rockstar” encourages chasing dreams with shimmering keys, spritely falsetto, and a soaring guitar solo. “As we get older, we lose sight of our dreams” Axel explains. “Most people aren’t doing the thing they wanted to do when they were kids. It’s buried somewhere. This song is about reconnecting with your inner-child – the part of you that is still dreaming.”
The song also poses the album’s titular question—Is There Anybody Out There? Vaccarino explains “A huge part of why we write music is to not feel like we’re alone. We’re all just trying to feel connected; it’s a vital part of the human experience. Also, we’re secretly hoping the aliens will hear us.”
Now, as for Vaccarino and Axel’s connection, they first met in the NYU practice rooms while still in college. After a few twists and turns of fate in 2012, the friends formed A Great Big World and released a six-song EP funded by Kickstarter. It spawned the viral sensation “Everyone Is Gay”, and “This Is the New Year”, which ended up being performed by the cast on Fox’s Glee. Soon after, Black Magnetic/Epic Records offered them a deal.
For the future, A Great Big World still dream huge. In addition to endless touring, the boys are in the midst of writing a Broadway musical and a host of new songs. Ultimately though, everything comes back to that simple connection hinted at in their moniker. “We’re all a part of something bigger,” concludes Axel. “I remember Chad and I went to Yosemite in the middle of recording. We just looked up at the stars. We felt so small, but we felt like everything would be fine.” Vaccarino leaves off, “There is no separation between people. We’re all an integral part of one great big world.”
JD Samson is best known as leader of the band MEN and for being one-third of the electronic-feminist-punk band and performance project, Le Tigre. For more than a decade JD’s career as a singer, producer and DJ has landed her at the intersection of music, art, activism, and fashion.
In 2007, MEN began as a DJ/Remix/Production team featuring JD. Eventually, MEN became a live band and art collective. MEN’s debut full length record Talk About Body was released in February 2011 by IAMSOUND in the USA and through Sony/Columbia in Europe. This was followed by the release of the EP Next in April 2012. In October 2013 MEN will release their second album Labor featuring the singles “All The Way Thru” and “Making Art”. Since their inception, the band has toured extensively internationally from LA and New York to Moscow and Shanghai to Paris and Sydney, whether it be at museums or dance-clubs, performing with the likes of Gossip, Peaches, and CSS.
With Labor MEN have made “a record of a moment”: the recorded sum of a decade of countless events. Burnished by the presence and the absence of individuals, time, and critical process. Refined in rage and frustration. Clarified in dedication, and hope.
When lead singer JD Samson and core MEN bandmate Michael O’Neill set out to make the record of these moments, Samson knew she wanted to undergo an emotional excavation, and create in a space more removed from the community self-reference of previous efforts. To make something that more universally changes hands. “We wanted to speak more widely,” says Samson of MEN’s latest, Labor. “I think what happened was that somehow, the push to be more open to new territory, led me to be more emotional, and personal.”
What MEN created is a sonic estuary, a place where Samson and her collaborators empty the contents of their minds and turn in their hands everything from gender identity to the tension between artistic autonomy and commercial success. United in Labor are mantras of the self-loathing, the chant of the penitent, the protest of the oppressed, the elation of the reckless.
Alex Newell was born in Salem and grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts. Newell is known for his role as the spectacular transgender character Wade “Unique” Adams. He obtained the role by his performance on a popular Oxygen reality show, where he placed second, earning him a guest role on the show. Newell is currently working on his first album with Atlantic Records.
Jeanie Tracy’s singing career began at an early age in her local church and school choir in Fresno, California. After her debut as a solo artist with her first album “Me And You,” she saw her music growing in a different direction- soulful R&B. Tracy is a two time Grammy winner for her songs on the Carlos Santana’s SUPERNATURAL cd, and on the Titanic Soundtrack. She was recently inducted into the West Coast Hall of Fame and continues to write and sing songs that inspire people to feel good about themselves.
- Mia Shahood is a 6th grader from Chelmsford, MA who is a cheerleader and ally to the LGBT community. Mia is a vocalist and will be opening up the Pride Festival.
- Penny Annalise, drag performer
- Big Ol Dirty Bucket is a Boston based funk band that has taken over the indie/underground music scene. The ten- piece band’s hits include “Photonic Amplifier People and “The Getaway,” and is known for keeping a crowd on their feet.
- Yune Neptune, drag performer
- Ray Isaac is an independent Singer-Songwriter-DJ who is known for his intoxicating lyrics and original performance style. His first single, release in January 2014, “U Want or U Don’t” is now on VEVO and he continues to release popular club tracks.
- Jack Romanov is four member band comprised of Suffolk University alumni. Their hits include “Get Some Sleep” EP and have played in Boston, New York City and across Massachusetts
- Washing Well Wenches are a Renaissance inspired band that perform at Festivals and Renaissance fairs around the country