Get to know our latest Center Stage artist, Vincent Poag.
Born and raised in a blue-collar section of Massapequa, Long Island. Born in the 50’s, he was exposed to, and a product of, the Broadway musical era; the music of Gershwin, Porter and Rogers and Hammerstein. As a teen, Poag saw singers like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley give way to a unique new breed of musician – the singer/songwriter. Influenced by the explosive cultural shift of the 60’s, led by such icons as Bob Dylan and the Beatles, Vincent Poag began his musical journey.
"I've been influenced by many great artists but Bob Dylan inspired me."
Poag worked in the family’s hardware store from the age of eight and shortly thereafter received his first guitar. He immediately started playing and writing his own music and by the time he entered college he had formed a 3 piece acoustic trio.
Poag with his trio moved to Georgia after college to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter in Atlanta’s burgeoning underground club scene. When that didn’t work out, broke, Vincent returned to New York to drive a bus, play bars and peddle his songs to publishers and record labels. Unfortunately the pressures of making a living forced him to channel his creativity and drive into business ventures, eventually building a successful non-music business.
He later married and had a family but the songwriter in him never died. From time to time he would write a lyric or a song on a subject that resonated with him, only to be tucked away in a desk drawer.
Fast forward to 2008… on a lark as a birthday gift his wife bought him a series of guitar lessons. Now Poag, more settled in his career and family, could revisit his first love and explore his musical potential. The dream that so long ago was put on hold, and the songs that had been tucked away in a drawer were revitalized. Somewhere between hope and possibility in a voice somewhere between Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Randy Newman, Vincent Poag was reborn.
The dreams that were put on hold have become material that demands to be heard.
“This Christmas” was Vincent Poag’s first single off his debut CD Circling Back -- a perfect amalgam of his incredible range with a simple message of hope and friendship. Peaking at #34 on the FMQB/ACQB Chart, this is a holiday song that is both timely and timeless. Additionally, the next single “Stress,” with its rhythmic Island sound, hit #5 on the FMQB/ACQB chart, alongside artists like One Republic, Kelly Clarkson, Adele, and Coldplay.
His sophomore album, For The Girls, was released in April 2014, and is proving to be a continuation of Poag’s unique expressionism. “For The Girls,” which, as Poag states, “represents man’s inept struggle with the opposite sex,” “Scarlett & Me,” the first single which he wrote “in a lighthearted complimentary spirit with the hope of cracking of smile,” “Momma,” a heartwarming homage to his “favorite girl,” and the Bourbon Street flair of “New Orleans” are just a few of the standout songs in Poag’s impressive catalog.
Poag’s musical strength lies in his ability to tell a story or describe a feeling that compels you to listen to his lyrics but it’s his melody that transports you and draws you in. Poag moves easily from reggae to blues, jazz to rock. He never repeats and always surprises.
Describe your sound in one ramble-on sentence..
I'd like to think my songs are a tasteful blend of genres constantly evolving, bound by playful, heartfelt, meaningful, inspirational lyrics.
What inspires you to make music?
Life is hard and we all need a break. I'd like my music to help a little.
What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?
It's exploring the musical instrumentation and arrangement possibilities and the idea that a song can make a little bit of a difference, even if it's for one person. Writing a song is like giving birth to a child with a life of its own.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a musician?
Biggest challenge for me is finishing a song musically as there are so many options and decisions to be made along the way. Secondly, its getting songs heard. The world has become infinitely more difficult for musicians with the minuscule compensation from streaming, as well as outlets for song placement. There is also limited acknowledgement of all the other credits involved in the songwriting and musical production.
What's one of your all-time favorite recordings?
Favorite all time recording. Too many favorites but one is “I've Got You Under My Skin” written by Cole Porter and performed by Frank Sinatra.
Name three people who have influenced your music, and tell us why- Living or dead.
First influences were the great Broadway musical composers like Rogers and Hammerstein, Frank Sinatra and Elvis. Then it was Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Tom Waits, Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Neil Young, James Taylor, Randy Newman and the list goes on and is still going. They are all creatively brilliant yet different, each connected in their own inexplicable way. The biggest influences and inspirations were Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Bob for his unparalleled originality and powerful poetry and The Beatles because they were the most tasteful musical group ever.
Do you have any recent or upcoming projects you'd like to share with us? Tell us about it.
I am currently working on my next album, CD or should I say stream. One of the songs is about Nicholas Winton, the British Schindler. He is a truly inspirational, unlikely hero who saved 669 children in Prague from the Germans in 1938-9.
What is your ideal or target audience?
My target audience is anyone who appreciates my songs. The beauty of songs is that they resonate with different people at different times, ideally timeless and ageless.
Do you write/compose your own songs? Briefly describe your songwriting process.
I write my own songs. The process varies. It usually starts with an idea lyrically though often it starts with melody. The whole thing is somewhat surreal as to where it comes from and where it goes musically and lyrically. Quite magical mysterious and right out of the air.
What do you like the most about Radio Airplay?
I like that Radio Airplay gives exposure and a voice to the independent artist. It allows listeners to form their own opinions about the artists they like based on creativity instead of popularity.