Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Powers of Music- Kerri Powers Reloads and Recharges

Kerri Powers now has a perspective that she didn’t have earlier in her musical career, when she first started out. Powers, opening for Melanie at The Center for Arts in Natick on December 4th, and headlining her own show on December 6th at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA, is emerging from a self-imposed hiatus, taken primarily to raise her son.


“I have lot more faith and confidence in my own ability.  I tend to be highly creative and visual, but when I started out, I didn't really have a belief in myself. After giving birth, you get this sense that there is nothing you can't do.  Raising my son, and just so much life experience, have put me in a much different place.  I’m much more likely to go with the flow.”

That ‘flow’ moves through the singer-songwriter Powers with intensity and strength, born of the challenges in life- childrearing, separation and divorce, and probing the depth of her own artistic ‘calling.’  She is re-emerging as a much more self-assured and deeper artist, more solid in her craft, and focused on her calling. 

“I have more clarity, a greater sense of honesty. I feel blessed I can do this, now.  I can’t imagine a life not doing it- music, art- I am clear that this is what ‘I’ do. I know you need, these days, to have 100% of your soul engaged, and faith.  It is not an easy industry to make a living in.”

Personally introspective and intense, it seems increasingly natural that Powers is supremely comfortable with the blues as a force that informs her musical sensibility. There would seem to be a paradox for her- the transparency with feeling and emotions that characterizes the blues, and her own more recent insight into that kind of openness and seamless honesty in her own art. 

“I think from the time I was young, I always resonated with the blues. All music stems from that form.  Of all the music I know, I think it’s the best way to connect with people.  It opens the heart.  If you are gonna put music out there has to be about feeling, connecting with others.  I’ve always been shy, so I know it seems like a paradox, but the blues have always been my way to get out there more.  To me, it’s natural... it's all about the feel, about what it evokes in people.  It’s a very powerful form of music. All music comes from that place- all from the blues.”

As she has grown as an artist and songwriter, she has found a changed music industry. 

"Well, this industry is not easy- it’s completely different than when I started a couple of decades ago. Because of the changes in how artists are marketed, and market themselves, it’s tough.  It’s a great time for indie artists, in some respect, but it is also a heavily saturated market.  I find I just have to do what feels right- do what I do, and go along for the ride." 

Powers’ original songs have a spaciousness of form, an easy confidence about them. They are infused with the blues, but are also threaded with other American musical idioms- country, r and b.  She can power off blues riffs with the best of them, but moves easily through an interesting and sinewy musical landscape.  Her most recent album features two covers- the heartfelt Janis Ian tune ‘Jesse,’ and the BeeGees classic ‘To Love Somebody’.

“When I do a tune written by somebody else, it has to completely absorb me from the get go- has to make me cry.  I am drawn to that very intense vibe. Actually, it was Gram Parson’s version of ‘To Love Somebody’ that caught me. I just went crazy for it, I cried when I heard it. That doesn't happen often for me, so I guess that's how I know.”

She’s not afraid to be interpretive with the work of another songwriter. 

"I believe in artistic license. I think it's right from an artist’s standpoint. If you can’t believe in in yourself enough to wear ‘different hats,’ and enjoy the process- maybe this isn’t for you.  Not everyone is gonna like what you do compared to what they are used to. But it is about being true to ourselves, as artists, as well." 

With her new self-titled new CD, Kerri Powers, she has re-entered the music scene emphatically and with confidence, after a self- and circumstantially imposed hiatus.

“I always hoped I could continue making art.  I never had grandiose ideas about where it would go, though I do think that when we’re older, we learn not to mess with expectations. I love having the ability to grow with what I 'm feeling and fortunate enough to put be in a place to put it out there.  I never had dreams of a star, never got caught up in all that stuff.”

“I guess I never truly was able to ‘stifle’ all of that stuff inside of me. There was a time I had to take a break for an important priority, but that artist part was always there.  I couldn’t leave it behind and be a complete person.”

Powers remains true to her art, and her heart. She can be found online at: Kerri Powers

She is appearing at the Center for the Arts in Natick on December 4th, at 8pm. She can also be seen at Temple Isaiah in Lexington on the 6th of December. 


Kerri Powers
Kerri Powers 
Available through website: Kerri Powers

Powers eponymous second album is a strong offering, deeply reflective of a thoughtful and somewhat restless talent.  She is a gifted melodist, painting in deep and at times subtle shades of blues and angularity. This is a sparse view of the aural landscape, well suited to her muscular lyrics and delivery.  In Powers’ lyrical world there are few places to hide. 

In her return to recording and touring as a lifestyle choice, Powers is on the fast track as an artist evolving. There is a self-confidence about this set of music that suggests an artist growing comfortable in their own skin, and with their own gifts.

Powers has some real blues chops, mostly restrained on this CD, but threading neatly throughout her tunes. However, those confusing restraint with sedate are warned that Powers has some sharpened steel running through her words; one need only sit through the opening tune, ‘Tallulah Send a Car For Me;’ which sets the stage for Powers to assert herself with authority, as Kevin Costner once said in Bull Durham.  “Can’t wear my alligator boots in church- preacher says all they ever do is drag in dirt, well I think I got some dirt on his clean white shirt.”  And if that isn’t fair warning enough, she also confesses ‘I love lighting firecrackers in the dark.’

And yet, the aching transparency she shows in her cover of Janis Ian’s Jesse reveals a vulnerable heart behind all the bluster of Tallulah. The third tune, an original, ‘Old Shirt’, reveals another aspect of the artist a person; the hurt, and forgiving person, who has ‘come apart at the seams that hold an old shirt together.’

A mature work that delivers, and yet promises in it’s next incarnation to move us even further along on this artistic, evolutionary journey of Powers’. Terrific, listenable, and moving. 

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