By Geoffrey Rowlands
It isn’t just bad boy rappers who get expelled from school. Step forward American singer/ songwriter Lissie, full name Elisabeth Corrin Maurus. Currently enjoying her biggest hit to date with her fourth studio album, Castles, Lissie was kicked out of high school during her senior year.
“It was over something stupid which I did,” she admitted. “Sometimes you do stupid things when you’re a teenager. I don’t want to get into specifics but it was sort of like the culmination of a lot of negative things that happened.
“It was probably for the best. I had a lot of miscommunication with teachers. The choir teacher wouldn’t let me be in the choir. It was just a rotten time.”
Her development as a musician and songwriter was forged through the problems Lissie was having at school.
“I’d always sung since I was little and started writing poems in high school. I taught myself to play guitar as a way to provide music for the poems. It was a time in my life when I really leaned on my music as a way to stay sane.”
Leaving her Rock Island, Illinois, home, Lissie moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, where she spent two years at Colorado State University.
“I enjoyed my time in college and had intended to go through all four years. But I knew I wanted to play music. I was doing gigs in Colorado and spent one semester in Paris where I also performed shows. The performing bug had really bitten me by the time I returned from Paris. I decided to quit college, move to Los Angeles and try to make it as a singer.”
Her first recorded output was a four-song self-titled EP which she released in 2007.
“I rented a studio for two days and produced the EP myself. Some of my friends performed the music. The end result didn’t sound super-duper professional but I wanted to have a product on the market which I could sell at gigs. The songs also captured me at that time so I’m very proud of the EP.”
The quality of her songs earned Lissie the opening spot on a US tour with Lenny Kravitz.
“Lenny’s manager knew me and knew my songs. I couldn’t believe it when he called me and said I’d be going on tour with Lenny as his opening act.
“It was a great experience, particularly the concert in Chicago. That was kind of like a homecoming show for me. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all there. So too were tons of people I’d grown up with. The show went great and it felt so special knowing my family and friends were all proud of me.”
Another EP, Why You Runnin’, was released in 2009. This gave Lissie her first taste of chart success reaching number ten on Billboard’s Americana / Folk Albums chart. But it was the following year when things really took off for Lissie with the release of her debut album, Catching a Tiger.
The album did not crack the Billboard 200, though it did peak at number five on the Folk Albums chart. Lissie found she was appreciated rather more on the other side of the Atlantic. Catching a Tiger did well in numerous European charts, hit number 12 in the UK and number four in Norway.
“I’m not sure why but my work seems particularly popular with British and Norwegian people. I even got a massive hit single in Norway with When I’m Alone, the second track from Catching a Tiger.”
When I’m Alone, which was chosen by iTunes UK as their Song of the Year for 2010, can be heard over the end credits of the 2014 film, Dumb and Dumber To. It was not the first time Lissie’s own songs, or her covers of those by other artists, have been used in films, television shows and commercials.
She is also in demand as a guest vocalist. Lissie has recorded with artists such as Robbie Williams, A-ha and Snow Patrol.
Catching a Tiger was followed by further success with her 2013 album, Back to Forever, and 2016’s My Wild West. Both albums found places among the lower reaches of the Billboard 200. But it is Castles which has now given 35-year-old Lissie her first top ten entry in a major chart debuting at number nine in Britain.
“It doesn’t seem fair to not say Norway is a major chart. All my three previous studio albums have made the Top 10 there. But it is wonderful to have Castles in the UK Top 10. It’s funny in that it’s only a few places higher than the peak positions of my other albums but getting into the Top 10 rather than the Top 20 really does make all the difference.”
Singer Jess Glynne has set a UK chart record for British female solo artists by achieving her sixth number one single.
The 28-year-old Londoner was previously tied with Cheryl Cole on five chart-toppers. Her mark has come about thanks to the modern development of artists using featured vocalists on their songs. Only two of her number ones, Hold My Hand and Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself, are Jess Glynne solo songs.
Not Letting Go was a Tinie Tempah track on which Jess contributed additional vocals. The remaining three were songs by other artists for which Jess provided the vocal. These are Clean Bandit’s Rather Be, Route 94’s My Love and Rudimental’s These Days.
Music fans are divided in their opinion of the new record. Some have nothing but congratulatory comments for Jess. Others question how she can be credited with the number ones in a personal capacity when she was effectively part of a duo or group. One wag even suggested she should change her name to Featuring Jess Glynne.
Whatever the merits of her achievement might be, Jess is less than half-way towards the record for UK chart-topping singles by any solo female artist. This is held by American superstar Madonna who has 13 number ones to her name.
Matt Cardle has had a testing time for much of the last five years. The winner of X Factor in 2010, Matt released an album in the October of 2011, 2012 and 2013. But the workload, combined with personal issues, became too much. It saw him turn to alcohol and drugs. Matt was in rehab even before his third album was released.
“I really needed to take some time to sort myself out,” he confessed. “I also wanted the songs on my fourth album to have depth and weight. In many ways, all the things I was going through made my new album possible. It was difficult to put my experiences and emotions into songs but the whole process has made the album very real.”
His album, Time To Be Alive, is set for release on April 27. Available now though is the lead single, Desire. The accompanying video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRI640zVZTI.
Following on from last week’s piece on Australian superstar singer and actress Kylie Minogue, the official video for her new single, Stop Me From Falling, has now been released. It can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_DgXvcfhYg.
Kylie obviously hopes the song will become her 51st single to find a place in the UK top 40. If it should do so, it would rather spoil the symmetry of Kylie having 50 top 40 hits when she turns 50 years of age on May 28
Stop Me From Falling is the second track taken from Golden, Kylie’s newly released 14th studio album. The song mix of pop-dance meets country has not been universally acclaimed by music critics. Album reviews have been generally positive but the overall feeling seems to be that the country experiment doesn’t really work and we should expect a disco comeback on Kylie’s next album.
Fan response to the album’s lead single, Dancing, would appear to echo the reviewers. It peaked at number 47 in the UK and just one place higher in Kylie’s native land.
Stop Me From Falling is certainly a stronger song and this, combined with all the album release publicity, should see Kylie return to the upper reaches of the singles chart. If it fails to hit the heights, she had better record that next disco album as quickly as possible.
Not content with bringing disgrace on their club yet again by smashing up the Manchester City team coach as it approached the Anfield stadium, Liverpool Football Club fans have now unleashed their hatred on Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards. Her ‘crime’ was wearing what they considered to be the wrong scarf.
The girlfriend of Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Perrie posted a picture on her Instagram account of herself and a friend at the Champions League quarter-final game. They were wearing fifty-fifty scarves which bear the colours and badges of both competing clubs.
These scarves are simply souvenirs of the game and have become popular with many fans at big matches. But a horde of enraged Liverpool fans have used social media to vilify the South Shields, Tyne and Wear-born singer. The degree of anger and abuse is truly unbelievable.
Ironically, Little Mix promote BeatBullying, the largest anti-bullying organisation in Europe. Perhaps BeatBullying should spread their message among the vindictive fans of Liverpool Football Club.
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