Thursday, April 6

Center Stage - Halie Loren

We're pleased to introduce Halie Loren, newest Center Stage artist, and grand prize winner of the Radio Airplay Love Song Contest for her song, Cuando Bailamos

Her debut jazz CD, 2008's “They Oughta Write a Song,” won the International Independent Music award for best vocal jazz album of the year, and she was quickly signed in Asia by JVC/Victor Entertainment.  Halie has since released eight additional albums, and has gone on to win many awards as both a singer and a songwriter.  She is signed in North America with Canadian-based Justin Time Records. Loren’s original song “Thirsty” won the Independent Music Awards’ best jazz song of the year in 2011.  Her 2012 release, “Heart First,” was honored by Japan’s Jazz Critique Magazine as the best vocal jazz album of year, and reached No. 1 on the iTunes Canada jazz albums chart. In 2013, “Simply Love” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Jazz / Japan and entered iTunes Canada as #1 jazz album.  2014’s release, “The Best Collection” also charted as Billboard Japan’s #1 Jazz Album, as did her 2015 release, “Butterfly Blue”.    

Along with recording success, Loren’s live performances have expanded to include performances with the Jazz Orchestra of Sicily, the Corvallis-OSU Symphony Orchestra in Oregon, the Monroe Symphony in Louisiana and the prestigious International Britt Fest Orchestra. For the past four years she has traveled east to west in the US and other parts of the world, including Canada, Japan, Italy, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Haiti.   Loren is continuing to tour across the US and other countries, and will be adding additional countries to her tours in 2017.  She is currently in the first phase of a new album, to be released in the late fall, 2017.  

Learn more about Halie; what  inspires her, what she's been up to, and what she's got in store for her bright musical future in our latest artist Q&A

What was the inspiration behind writing and recording your song "Cuando Bailamos"?
The concept was about the intriguing moment of meeting an enchanting stranger on the dance floor and feeling drawn into a daydream of wondering "is this the beginning of something life-changing, or is this just the magic of a fleeting shared moment of intimacy?" That spark of infatuation and wonder can be so intoxicating.
As for the story of writing the song, it was a collaboration between myself and my dear friend the late great Larry Wayne Clark. We were communicating via Skype, two thousand miles apart from one another (me in Oregon, Larry in eastern Canada while receiving cancer treatments)... we had written many songs together in the past, and wanted to create something new together despite our distance from each other. I'm so glad we did, as it ended up being our last collaboration together - and a beautiful way to remember our songwriting partnership and our friendship.

Describe your sound in one ramble-on sentence
A merging of fresh and vintage, of pop and jazz, foraying into the bright and skippy as well as dark and brooding, thoroughly steeped in heart-on-sleeve romanticism.

What's your earliest music-related memory growing up?
Singing along with my sister's tape of Madonna's “Like a Prayer” when I was 4 years old.

If you were to cover another band/artist's album, which would you pick and why?
I would choose Joni Mitchell's “Blue” - its one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time, and traverses so much interesting emotional territory and compelling storytelling through song. Joni's compositions also lend themselves to really cool alternative arrangements, which is something I look for when I cover songs.

Do you write/compose your own songs? Briefly describe your songwriting process
Yes, I write and compose quite a bit – most of my album releases to-date, though, have included a combination of jazz standards/songs from the American Songbook, re-arranged pop/rock covers, and original music. Only my first album release, “Full Circle”, consists of almost entirely original music. I'm looking forward to working on another album of that nature in the near future, though.
As for my process, it's different each time, but I most often begin with a piece of melody and construct chords at the piano around that melody – sometimes the lyric develops alongside the melody, but often only a bit of the story presents itself to me at the very beginning. It then becomes an effort of discovering the story that is trying to unveil itself. Sometimes it comes right away, other times it evades me for weeks or even years. In co-writing situations, things tend to unfurl more quickly in that two or more people are putting heads together, which often helps all parties involved to get out of the rut of preconceived notions about what a song “should” become. That was certainly the case with “Cuando Bailamos” – my co-writer Larry Wayne Clark always planted ideas in my head that I would have never conjured on my own, and this case was no exception. Ultimately we ended up with a song that took a direction that surprised us both, completely unlike what we thought we were setting out to write at the beginning of the process.

What was the highlight of 2016, either for you personally or for you music career? What was the low point?
There were many moments that felt like distinctively bright spots in my career and my life... including performing a co-bill concert with legendary pianist Oliver Jones at the Victoria Jazz Festival, releasing a new live album (in Japan only) and following it with my biggest Japan tour yet last April, recording and producing a new EP with “halie and the moon” that I'm very proud of (called “A Million Suns: vol. 1”), singing with the Britt Orchestra at the illustrious Britt Festival in Oregon... the low point, for me, was seeing our national political climate descend into such toxic territory – where it remains. I do have hope that we can find our way through it... music and art certainly help to heal rifts, and I'd like to think we artists can be an immense force for good.

Can you give give us a little hint on what's to come in 2017?
Well, I'm about to embark on a new album project... so there's that! I'm also about to release a new album with another band I'm part of called “halie and the moon” - we are just finishing up production on it, and it'll be coming out in May 2017. I'm also excited to be performing in different parts of North America throughout Spring and Summer 2017 (around the U.S. and Canada), and will be engaging in some collaborative performances with dancers, choirs, and symphonies later in the year as well. It's going to be a wonderful year in my creative life, I do believe!

What do you like more: Performing live or recording in the studio?
They both have vastly different merits... I love the ability to have big dreams in the studio, to paint a very detailed picture of a story or idea through many layers of musical colors if I want to. Live that is rarely an option, but the live energy of being totally in the moment, reveling in the immediacy and the playfulness of improvisation and crafting a “musical conversation” on the spot with the other musicians and with the audience, is such a highly charged and exciting thing.

Any embarrassing on stage moments you'd like to share? C’mon, don’t be shy.
I'll never forget the time I was performing outside on a 99 degree day (which is what I blame for my mind turning to mush while I was on stage) and introducing the Bob Marley song “Waiting in Vain” as a song written by Bob DYLAN. I'll never live it down...

What's one thing people should know about you?
I grew up in Alaska, so my love of nature runs as deeply as anything for me... and I've always loved animals. Because of this, I've been a vegetarian for the past 20 years. Luckily, I'm also big fan of eating vegetables!

What do you enjoy doing outside of music? Does your hobby rejuvenate your creativity?
As I mentioned, I'm a nature-lover, so I enjoy hiking and camping a LOT. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into the peace of the immersive outdoors is hugely restorative. I also love reading, which launches me into other people's worlds and gives me all kinds of perspectives that absolutely help me with my creative efforts. I'm a life-long visual artist as well, which serves me with many aspects of my career – I incorporate it however I can, whether it's designing my own album artwork or taking photographs of the places I get to visit on tour.

What do you like the most about Radio Airplay?
I appreciate that it is such a great way to discover new music, and that so many people from all over the world have found my music through here as well!  It's been great to see in which parts of the world some of the new fans of my music are currently living... I love seeing how music can serve as a common thread between listeners from such diverse places and backgrounds. It is a true universal language!

A Woman's Way - Halie Loren