Blog by Nia Andrews herself
Video & Photos c/o Frolab.com
sunday july 18. what a special night. my solo debut at angel’s piano bar. i’d had a feeling about the place the first time i walked in there and knew i wanted to play there. maybe my childhood obsession with josephine baker resurfaced the moment i saw her smiling wide behind the bandstand. or maybe it was the vibe of the place.
i’d performed as a background singer, but i’d never done my own thing. after hitting jam sessions pretty regularly to get more cozy on mic without having someone else to hide behind, i knew it was time to break off and discover what my own thing would feel like. i keep my head down and work quietly until the work is done and i’m ready to show it. that’s kind of how this debut was. it seemed to come out of the blue, but for me, it had been brewing. i knew i wanted a rhythm section, and i knew i wanted to turn specific songs inside out with a jazz undertone with a few moody interludes and hip-hop breaks – a melee of sound that greatly sum up where i come from musically. it took some time to put the band together, but then i found paul legaspi and charlie domingo. with my partner-in-crime, mark de clive-lowe (whom i met at a jam session last year), we now had a band and were ready to go.
my set list consisted of songs i’d written over time and jazz-infused covers of some of my favorite songs that have influenced me most profoundly. i love joni mitchell’s lyricism and musicality – so we did “help me”. i did my all time favorite brazilian songs. a little nancy wilson/canonball adderly was in the mix as well. i like bringing a bit of tension to the music that i do, so mark and i worked on moodier arrangements of these along with some of my existing songs to create a special set specific to angels.
the 1st set, my ENTIRE family showed up. a little overwhelming. ok, REALLY overwhelming. also really amazing. my 3-year-old son at one point sat directly in front of me as i started the song i wrote about him, called “i’d do it all again”, nearly sending me spiraling into tears! but by the 2nd set, the babies went home, and LA’s artists community came out. the creative solidarity between us all created magic in that room and it was palpable. with my band by my side and josephine holding me down in back, something happened in there. i sweated my hair out. my make up smeared. and we packed the house and blew the roof off of angel’s. i played my tambourine so hard i got a blister! it was more fun than i could ever expect. and to think i was nervous about not having anyone or anything to hide behind for the first time. no piano or guitar like most singer/songwriters. no big name artist like my days as a background singer. not even any bangs to cover my eyes! nope…just me, naked and bare. it felt good to shed. and i absolutely cannot wait to do it again.