Purple Kind of Blue
Tori Amos, Paula Cole, Fiona Apple and Sarah McLachlan reinvigorated the piano in the '90s pop/rock world, transforming it from a mere accompaniment tool to it's own dynamic voice that could pounce and wail, sigh and strut. Now, in the new millennium, Meredith Blis is drawing comparisons to these stars as she blazes her own path in the tradition of such confessional singer/songwriters. Her first full-length album, 'A Purple Kind of Blue' (winner of the 2006 New Mexico Music Industry Award for Best Pop CD, as well as a Best Vocal Performance nominee) spotlights a musician who lines her elegant melodies with quirky edges. Whether she's throwing in a Jimi Hendrix-style intro for her ruminative track 'Legacy' or drawing inspiration from bathroom graffiti for 'Untitled Love Song,' Meredith's melodic-piano-driven-pop-meets-blues is a refreshing change of pace. 'I don't always write a song in terms of what's going on in the moment, but for them to be real they have to come from a real place inside of you,' the New York-based artist says of her music. 'I don't think I put myself out in people's faces. That's really scary and that's really brave, and that's one of the things I really admire about Tori Amos. There's a subtlety to my style, and I'm sneaky in that I use metaphors, which I think let's people interpret things through their own experience.' Meredith's instruments are a nimble, jazz-tinged piano and a voice that leaps from a smooth croon to a powerful siren. Like her song 'Such a Lovely Girl' proclaims, 'A lot a bit of tough . . . Full of heat/But pretty damn sweet' are strong aspects of her material. So are 'half a cup a sugar, a quarter cup of salt, a quarter cup of raindrops [that] makes one huge cup of heart,' to quote her new tune 'Subterranean Lovesick Daughter.' Music has been integral to Meredith's life since day one. Her father, Milton Sincoff, was a longtime executive at Arista Records, and her mother played piano. Her grandmother studied voice and piano at the Juilliard School, and her grandfather owned a music store. Meredith tinkered at the keys as a girl, but her heart was set on being a dancer. However, two knee surgeries forced her to re-evaluate her career, and she switched her creative expression from dancer to musician. She began focusing on music during her senior year at Sarah Lawrence College, and after graduating she continued her education by studying classical composition and music theory at the Juilliard School. 'One thing I can always say about music is it always makes sense. I see this so clearly with classical,' she observes. 'When nothing else makes works-be it relationships, finances, your hair cut-you can always sit down at the piano and make sense of a piece of Mozart. It's always there for me, and it's a joy.' Since then Meredith has developed into a seasoned artist of the New York live-performance scene. Satalla, The Cutting Room, Le Bar Bat, Cafe Vivaldi and CBGB's Gallery are among the rooms she has played. The throaty, sensual quality of her vocals and their smoldering tones, perfectly showcased in her torchy number 'The O Song,' conjure Janis Joplin's vibrancy and Aretha Franklin's soul. The delicate piano tinklings in 'Such a Lovely Girl' and 'Fairy Dust' hint at Amos' influence. But the overall sound, a mixture of honey and vinegar, is all Meredith's own. In addition to the New Mexico Music Industry Award, her originality has twice won the Internet song competition Rock Solid Pressure, snagged an honorable mention in the spring 2006 Peace-Driven Songwriting competition and has made her a featured performer at the 2004 CMJ Music Festival and the 2005 HOWL-Fest celebrating the arts in her native East Village. 'A Purple Kind of Blue' is the realization of a creative dream. Meredith longed to record away from the bustle of New York so she could fully immerse herself in the project, and she found the time was right when she was temporarily living in Taos, New Mexico. Her music carried the heart of New Mexico, though a New York sensibility informs Meredith's sound. The cinematic qualities of 'Mermaid Girl,' the sprightly jazz inflections of 'Two Way Street,' the city's romanticism and hints of cabaret make 'Might Aphrodite' tailor-made for a movie soundtrack: They are what give 'A Purple Kind of Blue' a dry-eyed sentimentality. As Meredith promotes the album through her Purple Sky Records label, she is making a game plan for her next record. She is considering writing a concept album, possibly one that's based on fairy tales. Moreover, her writing is beginning to include the strong blues influence that began her performance career. Studying the greats like Dr. John, Marcia Ball, Etta James and Bonnie Raitt. Her next album is bound to include her talent as a blues vocalist with her pop sensibilities as a songwriter. You can catch her delivering material every Wednesday from 7:30-8:30 at Mannahatta Lounge, located at 316 Bowery on Bleeker Street in New York. In addition to her music career, Meredith works as a talent buyer to promote independent artists in New York through the I AM (Independent, Alternative Music) Showcase, which she created. She also teaches voice and piano. Having recognized her passion for helping others in her role as a certified Kundalini yoga teacher, she is a Yoga for Youth volunteer, where she teaches yoga to troubled and incarcerated youth, as well as a volunteer for Musicians On Call. Meredith is also proud to be part of the World Hunger Year Artists Against Hunger and Poverty initiative.