Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Broda: Storytelling 101

Mark Twain. Charles Dickens. Dr. Seuss. All great storytellers who put their thoughts to paper. Lennon and McCartney. James Taylor. Johnny Cash. Also, great storytellers who put their pen to song. It is an art form that is sorely missed in today's music industry. The art of telling a good story. Today's damaged music environment seems to contain three minute adventures into voyeurism, booty calls and how tough it is to be rich and famous. I recently came across a refreshing exception to this rule one cold Friday evening in Martinsville, VA at the Binding Time coffee shop.

I saw a poster advertising a singer by the name of Broda who was to appear there on Friday, January16. The temp never got out of the teens that day and I braved the elements to take a chance on a singer and her acoustic guitar. There was a small crowd gathered in the shop and Broada began her set at 5:30. What proceeded to happen over the next two hours was a soul riching experience in what she calls "Acoustic Americana." Broda sang songs that took you places. Suddenly, it wasn't seventeen degrees outside because you were with her at the county fair at the Battle of the Bands or walking into Hendrick's Store with her. She sang about everything from her dog to her hooptie, which by the way is for sale.

Broda is no ordinary fly by night performer. She is educated in the field of music with a degree in Music Education with a double certification in instrumental and choral tracks. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Governor's Mansion and the White House. She was in several bands of different styles after graduation including a southern rock and a funk band before venturing out on her own as a solo artist. I spoke to Broda after her performance that night to learn more about her musical path that she was venturing out on.

"I was trained in classical piano and it was pretty well structured, so it didn't give me the room to experiment. Being in these different bands allowed me to do that. When my last band broke up because of alot of "band drama", I decided then in the Fall of 2006 that I wanted to do this solo," she said. Broda ventured out to coffee shops and eating places and just about anywhere that would let her play her music.

"My influences range from Brahms to Bonnie Raitt to Wynonna Judd to the buttery goodness of Ella Fitzgerald. All four of those artists display so much emotion and heart in their music, that's why they have inspired me. You're right, the art of storytelling is missing today in music," said Broda.

Being with the state that the industry is in today, I asked her how it felt to be a new artists striving to get noticed. "Well, the internet is a blessing and a curse. Ten years ago you couldn't record and put out an independent release like mine but today you can. The problem is that everyone can also do it too. I mean, I even recorded a couple of tracks at home with my handheld digital recorder. I spend my time off now updating all of my online pages, MySpace, Facebook, so that I can keep my fans updated."

Broda is also involved with Indiegrrl, which is an outlet that supports women in the arts whether it's music, art, poetry, whatever form that is out there. It has allowed Broda to meet other artists and find out that there are other women artists who may be struggling with similar issues. The Indiegrrl festival is coming to Spencer, VA on May 30th to the Spencer Penn Center and is a free event that will contains lots of performers of all types of styles.

Broda has just released her first Cd entitled "Spiral Staircase" and it is well worth listening to. The lyrics definitely take you to a place where you feel like you are a part of the story that she is telling. Songs such as the touching and melodic "Hendrick's Store" to the quirky, toe tapper "Five County Fair" have you wanting to go back and listen to them over again because you don't want the escape to end. I dare anyone who listens to the title track to tell me that you cannot relate to the lyrics. My last question was my what if you were stranded on a desert island with only one cd, what would it be question. "It would have to be "No Additives" by my old funk band Grey Sky Sally. Even if I was stranded, I would still be surrounded by my dear friends."

I am glad that I braved the elements that night and got a chance to see Broda perform. She will be bringing her talent back to our area on May 30 at the Indiegrrl festival in the Spencer Penn Center in Spencer,VA from 10:00 am until 7:00pm with many other artists. I encourage everyone to come out no matter what types of music that you like and support the arts. Thanks again to Binding Time for showcasing such a great talent and to Broda for allowing me the time to talk to her. With as many budget cuts that seem to be hitting all aspects of life, it is very important to support the arts. I think we take for granted the joy that we get from books or TV or from music or movies and we need to do all we can to support these artists. I hope to see everyone in Spencer on May 30th, you will not be disappointed.

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