The word “career” is interesting. While we all believe we understand what it means, defining it – in terms of a chosen profession or vocation can be difficult. And sometimes our perspective gets skewed. Sometimes our attraction to the big picture and the bright and shiny alters what we might ordinarily perceive as a career and, more importantly, what success in that career might mean.
Check it out.
Last season, Aiken resident Beth Spangler made significant inroads on the reality television show The Voice. And while she was removed from the running before America really got a chance to know her or her talent, I have to believe she considers that experience a career success.
Consider this – The Voice has completed seven seasons. Its primary competitor American Idol is now in its lucky 13th. Add into the mix the slew of like-minded talent competitions – The X Factor, America’s Got Talent, Nashville Star and so on – and the number of winners easily reaches triple digits.
Now, how many of them can you name? How many of those winners have found the level of stardom that attracts talent to these shows? Not many. For every Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, there is a Taylor Hicks or David Cook, who, despite an initial flush of success did not become household names.
Now does that mean they have failed? Does it mean they do not have careers? Does it mean they have returned to working at coffee houses or amusement parks? Hardly.
They are still professional musicians and that, for anyone who has ever dreamed the dream, means a lot.
On Thursday, March 19, Spangler will take the stage at the URS Center for the Performing Arts, 126 Newberry St. SW in Aiken. Tickets are $50. The concert will feature songs from her debut EP, Audio Selfie. (She has two singles available on iTunes, Like a Bird and Bigger Than Love.)
Bringing her music to a hometown crowd is in no way a consolation prize. It’s a professional gig for a professional musician. Will it be good? Will it be polished? Probably – because that is what professionals do.
So while it is true that a Voice victory did not allow her the luxury of skipping steps one and three on the way to pop stardom, the lessons learned there – and that sense of what might have been – might in fact carry her farther down the path.
PUPPIES AND LEGENDS. Should Spangler find herself in need of songwriting mentors, she need look no further than two local favorites who have recently released new records.
Tara Scheyer recently released her fourth volume of tunes for tots, appropriately titled HiFi Felix Vol. 4. What’s interesting about the collection is that it shows both growth and an understanding of what has worked in the past. There are new versions of old favorites, new songs targeted squarely at her very young audience and a few tunes that seem to recall her days fronting the indie act Snapdragon. With 16 songs it is, by HiFi standards, something of an epic. But it never feels overburdened. The songs keep rolling along, seguing easily from one to the next. And at the end of the hour the temptation is not to move on to something more mature, but to hit repeat and sing along again.
The Livingroom Legends are continuing to celebrate the release their long awaited third album – LLIII – with a couple of upcoming shows.
The band will be part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, playing at the Augusta Common at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17. On March 20, they’ll hold a CD release party at Helga’s, the Central Avenue bar where the Legends serve as unofficial house band, at the very hospitable hour of 6:30 p.m.
I’ve long believed that in his own quiet and careful way, lead Legend Ken Stephens has become Augusta’s strongest songwriter, filling in the unenviable space of excellent-but-underappreciated which was vacated by the late, great Larry Jon Wilson. It is not, I believe, a coincidence that the Legends choose a similar style of songcraft, as the amalgamation of country, rock and Southern storytelling feels very much like home for Augusta-area audiences.