Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

That’s Lea

Baltimore singer shares songs of ‘Worth’ at Carroll event

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Photo courtesy of The Carroll Arts Council
Baltimore based singer and songwriter Lea will make her Carroll Arts Center debut at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Westminster theater.
For years, Carroll Arts Center executive director Sandy Oxx liked to pop in a CD by a little-known artist named Lea during her 40-minute commute to work, saying she found the music ‘‘engaging and earthy.”

‘‘It was soothing, but not like the music you have during a massage or yoga session, this music was inspiring and made you think,” Oxx said.

Not knowing much about the self-made musician, Oxx was shocked to find out recently that the young singer with the ‘‘stunning vocals” hailed from the Baltimore area.

‘‘I discovered out of the blue that she was relatively local and I went to hear her sing in Frederick. Next thing you know, she’s coming to ‘my’ stage,” said Oxx.

The award-wining singer and songwriter will bring her raw talent to the Westminster stage for a concert Oxx hopes attracts a lot of attention at 8 p.m. Saturday.

‘‘I’m really looking forward to it and I’m curious to see the venue,” said the singer who has a loyal following in the Baltimore and D.C. area.

A performer on stages throughout the region, the singer also just returned from a three-week tour in Germany that she called ‘‘terrific.”

‘‘It gets better every time I go. The audience is very receptive,” she said.

Lea, who goes by her first name as a performer, tries to conduct a small tour of Germany each year, but she’s hoping to return at least three times in the coming year.

She first went to Europe several years ago when she had to opportunity to study music abroad. There, she sang with the British trio ‘‘Indigo Wild,” while honing her solo career. Since her return she has made a name for herself, playing at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in addition to countless local venues.

Besides being a solo performer, Lea also regularly sings and plays guitar with a trio including musicians Doug Alan Wilcox and Will Henderson.

The three — each veterans of the local stage — bring their own style of music, making a compelling collaboration.

During The Carroll Arts Center concert, Lea plans on playing songs from her newest CD, ‘‘Something Worth Keeping,” released in January.

A folksy, acoustic collection of songs, the singer said reaction to the album has been good so far.

Lea was also recently recognized for her first CD, ‘‘Great Big World,” which garnered five Washington Area Music Association Award nominations — a huge nod from local music critics.

‘‘Her unique sound and emotional depth are an underlying force when she performs her original songs described as a smooth combination of the ‘lyric frankness of Blues.... the melodic complexity of Jazz...within the genre of Folk’,” note press materials.

Lea’s love for music came first from her family who was always immersed in their talent while she was growing up. According to her Web site, Lea’s father traveled the world, playing trumpet with the 70s soul band, Black Heat, and her mother taught her to sing from her soul by initiating her, at age 8, into the Jones Family Gospel singers.

Oxx is just one of several audience members who is looking forward to listening to the soulful singer display her talent at her upcoming concert.

‘‘While she is being nominated for Album of the Year by the WAMMIES, I think she should be nominated for a Grammy. She’s first rate and a marvelous talent,” Oxx said.