Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Soulful Chicago musician Angelique Anderson bringing powerful vocals to new music project


For her latest project, soulful songstress Angelique Anderson teams up with fellow Chicago musician Michele Thomas to form Acoustic Blue.

Acoustic Blue will perform at 11 p.m. Jan. 30 at Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon Ave., Chicago. Kelley Ahlstrom will perform at 10 a.m.

I had the chance to talk to Anderson about Acoustic Blue.

Q - Great talking to you. Your latest project is Acoustic Blu. How did that come about and what do you want to do with the project? How did you hook up with Michele Thomas? 

Acoustic Blu came from Michele and me wanting to do a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James. It seemed natural since Michele has primarily been a jazz singer and I do take a lot of influence from Etta James.

We are using it to branch out and try some music we've wanted to do but didn't have a platform to deliver. For her, it is some less jazz influenced music and originals.

For me, it's getting to deliver my music in a more acoustic setting and covering some more challenging artists. We'd also like to start having a different artists join the collective each time.

It's a good way build a music family. At our Jan. 30th show, we'll have Kelley Ahlstrom. 

I met Michele when I was looking for a vocal coach. Out of all of them, I thought she was the best fit for me because she doesn't just focus on classical training but prepared you to sing in the real world. 

Plus she is super supportive and patient which you need when you are laying all your cracks and horrible notes on the line. 

Q - You released your debut album, "No Ordinary," in 2013. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them? Besides your Acoustic Blu project, are you working on new music? 

All of the music for "No Ordinary" comes from a tumultuous breakup. Isn't that the required response for any artist? It is true though.

At that time, I didn't have a clear long term goal. It was really people like Michele, drummer/producer Darren Scorza, DJ Caswell James and family and other friends propelling me to get my stuff out there. 

The album was much more cathartic than that for me. It helped me lick my wounds and start on another part of my life.

As for new music, I am tossing around some ideas now. I'm in the very early stages of an EP. 

My goal is to get a couple of tunes for this polished up and into my set list. If things go smoothly, maybe I can have the EP wrapped up later this year or early next year. 

Q - Who are your biggest musical influences and what kind of impact have they had on your music? 

Definitely Etta James. She's mainly known for her bluesy voice but the way she finessed that for "At Last" or "Sunday Kind of Love" made me want to sing.

Plus her whole "this is me attitude" is a great as well. She mainly encourages me to do things my way and trust that the right people will hear it.

Otherwise there is Nina Simone, U2, Otis Redding, Zero 7, and Led Zeppelin. I think they've all snuck onto the album in some form or fashion. 

Q - I understand that you stepped away from music for a while. What made you want to get back into music and are you happy with the decision? 

I am totally and utterly in love with music and singing. There are few things that bring me more joy, allow me to intimately connect with people, and provide excuses to hang out late and have a few whiskies.

So far the welcome has been amazing. I hope that it continues and that I am able to put some new music out there real soon. 

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and what do you think you add to it? 

Honestly, it's tough because its filled with so much diverse talent. There are some really good acts out there and while we have quite a few venues, there is a bit of vying for space. 

I think I have my own blend of soul, alt-rock, and jazz. I've covered anything from Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" to "At Last." 

I don't think you see many women doing that. "No Ordinary" does a similar thing starting with the rocked up "It Goes On" to ending with the very jazz influenced "In Between". 

Q - Do you have any dream projects or collaborations? 

Other than currently working with Michele, Darren, and Neal Ager, I'd love to get together with Al Green, Chet Faker or Alt-J. 

I can dream, right?