The wonderfully talented Alyssa Bonagura released a new album on Wednesday, October 30th, 2012. Why should you pay attention? If you’re a fan of music and appreciate a genuine artist who was born and raised with and in the business, then you’ll want to have a listen.
My first exposure to her music happened as it does for so many here in Nashville; accidentally. I had taken a walk with a friend to Puckett’s (http://www.puckettsgrocery.com/) downtown location where, besides great food and libations, they also serve up a serious helping of live music; usually featuring collections of some of the best studio and touring musicians in town. That Saturday night was no different with the feature act being Ballie & The Boys, a country band featuring New Jersey natives, and long time Nashville fixtures Kathie Baillie and her husband, Michael Bonagura. It was very obvious from their opening song that this was going to be a real musical treat. There was no denying the depth of their talent and, more impactful, the chemistry that, having seen an act or two over the years, can only be produced by folks working together for, in this case, decades. I later learned that, like so many others, this group had both enjoyed and been victimized by the “industry”. After writing hits for others, including Marie Osmond, and performing on other artists projects, they were signed by RCA Records in 1987 and had 3 top 20 hits on the Billboard Country charts. For reasons only the business could unearth, the promotion for the act ebbed, and what should have been (and still may be) a Hall of Fame type career, faded back into the grind of playing when and where they could. There have been countless parallel stories, but this one is different because these folks, despite earning the right to be cynical and bitter would have none of it. The love of their craft and their drive to share it kept them looking forward, and we’re all better for it. I say all this because had they decided to pack it in, it’s highly likely that their daughter, Alyssa, would not have been immersed in the musical universe. Instead of sharing her talents with us, she might very well be studying business or fashion or, well, anything but the performing arts if her parents had given up like so many others with their background. Instead, as she told me, she literally grew up with a guitar in her hands, encouraged and taught by her parents, and those around her, to hone her God given gifts and, despite their challenges, to give it a go; give it all she’s got. Midway through Ballie & The Boys set at Puckett’s that night they introduced Alyssa and had her sit in. I was captivated. Here was this 23 year young woman, artfully, bodaciously singing and playing these superb songs, most written by her and her writing partners. She was so genuine in her approach and her performance highly enhanced by her incredible comfort of the stage. I was hooked, and so were the rest of the folks there that night.
With the help of Kickstarter, and those who deservedly and devotedly believe in her, the independently produced project Lovehard is now available. It includes the song below, which many of you undoubtedly heard in Lowe’s commercials this summer, along with several other truly outstanding songs. I wish I could tell you that radio will determine that these songs; this artist, deserves some glory, but the fact is that this business is highly prejudiced against independents. I do believe that, because of the power of social media and the ability to share sentiment, Alyssa’s album will not only be well received, but successful in spite of, or despite, any lack of airplay this deserving performer should get.
It seemed fitting that, with her parents’ home state under severe threat from Hurricane Sandy, not to mention the tens of millions of others in its path, the ability to discover some sunshine, even if it’s just the musical variety, might not only be appropriate, but also somewhat comforting in the wake of what, as of this writing, is some very cloudy times ahead for so many. Lovehard is available on iTunes, click here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/alyssa-bonagura/id569054733
And here is a review of the album: http://goodnighthestia.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/love-hard-alyssa-bonagura/
And here’s Alyssa’s first official video from the project: