“I had something to say, and it was time to say it. That’s what I did with this collection of songs. The common thread here is setting the bar—for yourself, for your relationships, and for society,” reveals multi-award-winning artist, Lo Marie.
The Madison, Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter speaks up mindfully and majestically while easing in and out of genres with grace and authenticity on her upcoming 10-song singles series. These tracks will be bundled together as the album, The Bar, and together they explore empowering and enlightening narratives while stretching Lo Marie’s jazz sensibility to accommodate forays into funk, bluesy-pop, and theatrical rock. “I let the music speak for itself no matter what, and that meant removing genre barriers,” she explains.
Lo Marie previously released the debut EP, Beyond the Age of Reason (2012), produced by ace Nashville session man Jerry Kimbrough. This well-received effort earned Lo Marie an international following out of the gate, enabling her to tour the US, from New York to Los Angeles. Her follow-up, Solid Ground (2015), also produced by Kimbrough, won the “Jazz Album of the Year: at the 2015 MAMA Awards (Madison Area Music Association Awards). In 2018, Lo Marie won MAMA awards for “Best Female Vocalist,” “Best Jazz Performer,” and “Cover Song of the Year” for her duet, "I've Got A Crush On You," with the legendary guitar player Cliff Frederiksen. In 2020, Lo Marie swept the MAMAs, netting 5 awards, including “Artist of the Year.”
Outside of her solo career, Lo Marie keeps active with the charitable arts event organization, the Lo Marie Foundation, and performs in the Zappa tribute ensemble The Furious Bongos alongside many of the musicians you'll find on her recordings.
Lo Marie’s latest album is both emotionally direct and musically eclectic. The Bar opens with the intimate cocktail jazz of the title track. Here, Lo Marie sings of betrayal with almost sinister sensuality, teasing out her powerful mix of emotions—anger, sorrow, and frustration—while vocalizing with controlled soulfulness. Her smoldering phrasing matches the sting of her lyrics. One choice passage reads: If the world was caving in/I hope you’d act and not be shy/Now I’m all alone and thinkin’/“Did I set the bar too high?”
On “The Gap” Lo Marie masterfully juxtaposes political commentary on the devaluing of women in professional settings with frisky funk-rock. She’s booty-shaking and thought-provoking with lines such as: Got me feelin’ might shady/just let me be a lady/Work hard to make an honest dollar get .80 on the hour. “I hold no bars in this song, but you can effect change with a smile on your face,” Lo Marie shares.
On “Fear Is A Vampire” Lo Marie is boldly self-reflective while being musically theatrical, pairing moody verses with rocking and rousing choruses. Her opening lines are: Fear is a vampire/I’m guilty/I let it feed on all my open wounds/A sweet sweet surrender safe and familiar. “That song is about questioning my own bar as it’s easy to be afraid and let yourself sit back and watch life from a distance,” she says.
Lo Marie self-produced her previous album, but opted to co-produce The Bar with her bassist, mix engineer and musical confidant, Conrad St. Clair. Since her last album, Lo Marie has learned to use the recording process as an additional creative tool, and she’s made detailed sonic choices to honor and enhance the music of The Bar. The album also features contributions from distinguished musicians such as guitarist Teddy Kumpel (Joe Jackson) and bassist Bryan Beller (The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Dethklok).
Lo Marie’s story began with her singing in the church youth choir. From there, it was piano lessons at age 8, voice lessons at age 11, and guitar lessons at age 15. “I started playing guitar to impress a boy,” she confesses, laughing. Throughout high school, Lo Marie participated in show choir, musicals, and madrigals while venturing out on her artistic journey writing songs and performing outside of school.
At first, Lo Marie aspired to become an opera singer, but soon found she craved more open artistic expression. Lo Marie discovered a satisfying creative outlet in jazz, eventually studying with well-known guitarist Jerry Kimbrough while formally studying music at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Music in Voice and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. While at Vanderbilt, Lo Marie also studied under the great Billy Adair, the university’s director of jazz studies, and played in his professional big band, The Establishment.
Today, Lo Marie is an established artist breaking through boundaries personally and professionally. “This album has allowed me to look at myself and others around me, and make shifts in my life to reflect my values,” she details. “I hope The Bar encourages reflection and offers forth empowerment, both individually and culturally.”
"If there was ever any doubt that the Madison music scene oozes not only with talent but also with class, one need look no further than Lo Marie. Her tasteful blend of jazz and soul comes alive on Le Reve, a seven-song album that is nothing short of world-class.
-Rick Tvedt, Local Sounds Magazine