An Interview With Newcomer Songstress, SUNNY OZELL On Her Debut Studio Album, Her Love Of Paul Simon and How Her Hubby, Patrick Stewart Has Influenced Her Sound!
Posted On 07 Jan 2016
Tag: Aimee Mann, All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Boulder, Caetano Veloso, D'Angelo, Fleetwood Mac, Gillian Welch, Groove Collective, Hank Williams, Hotel Cafe, I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You, Los Angeles, Louisiana 1927, Melanie Dunea, Move Along Train, New York, Patrick Stewart, Paul Simon, Pops Staple, Randy Newman, Reno, Reno Opera Company, Rhythm of The Saints, Sunny Ozell, Take It With Me, Thriller
On the heels of the success of her studio album Take It With Me in the UK, classically trained vocalist and songstress Sunny Ozell will be releasing the LP stateside in the first quarter of 2016.
Ozell infuses her music with a soulful patchwork of blues, jazz, classic country, gospel and roots music, a style that she honed throughout a decade of performing live shows in NYC. Ozell’s elegant aura and luminous personality will light up the stage as she offers a rich and mesmerizing journey through different musical styles and eras in a way that only she can deliver.
On Take It With Me, Ozell has set out to showcase her unique vocal talents across a spectrum of pieces that includes both brand new songs and rarities by some of the greatest songwriters in music. Whether she’s singing Randy Newman’s lyrically charged “Louisiana 1927,” the rolling gospel of Pops Staples’s “Move Along Train,” or the old-style country of Hank Williams’s “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You,” Ozell finds a way to unearth new meaning in these songs. While she spends much of her time songwriting (work has already begun on her next all-original album), she also has a special knack for interpreting the works of others, often digging deep to shine a new light on a composition, perhaps even discovering qualities in them the author never suspected.
Ozell hails from Reno, Nevada where she spent most of her childhood and grew up living a robust, and rather “western” outdoor life. At the age of four she began studying classical violin and at 10, classical voice, becoming the only child member of the adult chorus in the Reno Opera Company at the time. At college in Boulder, Colorado, she majored in English Literature and sang in blues bands in her spare time. During her college days she also became the singer with what she describes as “a 10-piece Afro-Cuban funk mess,” a band modeled somewhat on the jazz-Latin-pop fusions of Groove Collective.
Ozell eventually made her way to New York City and it was there that she ultimately found her distinctive sound, influenced by the remarkable community of professional musicians she’s proud to claim as peers. It was also in New York City that she met her husband, actor Patrick Stewart.
Learn more about Ms. Sunny Ozell in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So, how have your shows been going?
Sooo marvelous. It’s been a minute since I’ve hopped in a van with a pack of musicians, and while it can become drudgery pretty quickly, this particular jaunt was all pleasure. I adore the guys I get to make music with, to the point that the whole endeavor really feels like a privilege. And the turnouts at the venues have been great, with audiences even knowing some of the songs, which is always a delightful surprise.
It sounds like you’ve been interested in music for a very long time. Can you remember your earliest musical memory?
I remember singing myself to sleep when I was very, very little, and my parents coming in to check on me. I also remember my first violin recital when I was four, and the adorable little navy velvet dress I wore.
How would you describe your sound to someone that has never heard it before?
I think the sound we went for (and successfully achieved) is something pretty classic…like the classic pop records of the 70’s, without having a “retro” vibe. A little dash of roots/country, a bit of soul, a bit of jazz.
How important was moving to New York for your career as a musician?
There’s no question that there are plenty of genuinely vibrant cities that foster incredible music scenes, but the pace and competition and sheer size of NYC really made me step up my game, and to be very honest with myself about what I did well. Any night of the week, you can go hear world class music being made, and repeat exposure to excellence is never a bad thing.
What artists have consistently inspired you and your sound?
It’s hard to say honestly what music has influenced my sound…I almost think that’s a thing for others to comment on. But there are certainly a lot of artists that I continue to turn to: Paul Simon, Aimee Mann, D’Angelo, Gillian Welch, Caetano Veloso, Fleetwood Mac, and more recently Bahamas, and Jason Isbell.
Can you remember the first record you ever bought?
I owned a cassette of Thriller, but I think the first record I ever bought with my own money was Paul Simon’s “Rhythm of The Saints” when I was probably about 12 or 13. And truth be told, I just had that record on the other night, and I still absolutely adore it.
When do you hope to release your album here in the US?
I believe we’re looking to the early winter of 2016, and we’re so excited about it. Can’t wait.
Is your husband, Patrick Stewart musical at all? Does he ever help you out with your music?
While his scope is somewhat narrow when it comes to what he listens to, he thankfully has great taste. He’s responsible for turning me on to Randy Newman (particularly his early 70’s stuff) and I’ll be forever grateful for the education.
What do you hope is the message of your music?
I believe in the power and validity of well-crafted songs…tunes that are well written, sensitively and intelligently performed, and recorded in such a way as to honor the magic of the moment. We went into the studio to capture what we do live, and I think we did a great job.