Hailing from both Arizona deserts and Colorado mountains, singer-songwriter Lara Ruggles embodies a distinctly feminine and ear-catching modern folk style. Her rich, powerful, “soulfully fierce” vocals bring depth to honest, emotionally evocative lyrics and diverse piano and guitar composition. Lara began writing music at the age of eight with a piano composition titled “The Real Lara’s Theme,” but it wasn’t until her teens that she learned to sing harmony, stood in front of a mic, and picked up her first guitar. A common reaction to Lara’s performances goes something like this: “You sound kind of like a cross between Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman. But totally different, of course. And now that you’re playing piano, there’s some Tori Amos in there. Yeah, and Natalie Merchant. Oh, and when you did that thing with your voice, it reminded me of Alanis Morrisette, and maybe even…Shakira!”
The Tucson Weekly said it like this: “It was recently announced that Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair Tour, which rounded up some of the biggest female musicians of the day a decade ago, is being revived in 2010. While she's not yet big enough to warrant an invitation, Colorado singer-songwriter Lara Ruggles would fit the bill well. Her slightly ethereal songs, backed by her piano- and guitar-playing, fit nicely into the template forged by McLachlan (and Tori Amos, Jewel and the young Joni Mitchell)—and she sings the hell out of them.”
“[Mae's] songs are charming even outside the context of the original [“One Year of Songs”] project, and she captures her prolific streak with a reflective sigh.” - The Washington Post
While most attendees at an industry conference in New York were wistfully sighing over their coffees and gazing at the room’s blank white walls, Heather Mae was staring them down with the colors of fierce creativity--and she hasn’t stopped.
Hidden beyond the maze of dull chairs and heavy bricks of PowerPoint text was the speaker’s pipedream suggestion. While most of the uninspired audience dismissed the idea of writing a song every day for a year, Heather Mae became relentlessly committed to the challenge. Sparking a 365 day journey, she trekked through over 30 states, making footprints of over 7,000 lyrics and 100+ artist collaborations. Her music is supported by an ever-changing cast of complementary musicians known as “The Make Believe,” some of whom she met during this project. Taking step one on October 1, 2010, Heather Mae is reaching another landmark 2 years later, releasing her LP “One Year of Songs.”
The Pop-Folk LP is her first full length project, a follow-up to her debut EP “Gonna Be Alright.” The growth is undeniable, as the album swirls with inspiration from her yearlong project, showcasing 10 songs from her 365-piece collection.
At the heart of each arrangement are stirring ukulele melodies, which are either supplemented by equally as optimistic lyrics or balanced by contemplative ones. Be assured that both sides of this story-telling coin are inspired and cathartic.
Though Heather Mae channels the influence of traditional singer/songwriters like Ingrid Michelson, Anna Nalick, and Nora Jones, she (unsurprisingly) is willing to step out of this comfort zone, layering haunting but comfortable harmonies a la the Fleet Foxes or Barenaked Ladies. Rounded out by strategic guitar turns, her sound emits the same clarity that’s reflected in her lyrics.
Heather Mae’s music could show up on your local radio station or the next Garden State-esque soundtrack. It’s the seasoning of her yearlong commitment that gives birth to this rare flexibility, having opened her musical identity to each experience of the project.
"Something happens to your art when you challenge yourself with a massive amount of work and a set deadline” said Heather Mae. “I used to wait for creativity to hit me, but after ‘One Year of Songs,’ I can brew creativity on the spot."
Sarah Clanton Schaffer
This cello playing vocalist from Greenville South Carolina may have been classically trained from kindergarten but her heart belongs to rock n roll. Cello is her primary instrument but she uses it to sing. Her smooth like honey vocals venture through soul, jazz, rock and folk. Along with her quirky vocals and long hair flying in musical abandon (some may call it headbanging), the rhythmic yet melodic voice of the cello provides a unique storytelling experience. The guitar and mandolin often make an appearance in the musical mix as well.
After graduating from Furman University in 2007, Sarah gigged around the South East with various ensembles and has collaborated with folks like Taylor Moore, Edwin McCain, opened for artists like Ben Sollee and others. Sarah also spent time (2008-2011) producing and booking the solar powered festival Music in the Woods at Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, South
Carolina for the non profit Dryridge Productions.
Most recently Sarah joined The David Mayfield Parade for a nationwide music tour. From the East
Coast to Colorado and back it was a great time! It was especially an honor to a be a part of the PBS Bluegrass Underground special recorded at the Cumberland Caverns with The Del McCoury Band and The Civil Wars, to air sometime late 2012.
Along with Parading around the country, Sarah is for the first time embarking on a solo album! When she isn't on the road, Sarah lives in Greenville South Carolina, where she spends her time writing music, collaborating with local and regional artists and writers and teaching cello lessons. Look out for
her band, Sarah Schaffer and The Clanton Road touring in late summer/fall 2012
Listeners and fans have compared Sarah with of such great artists as Rickie Lee Jone, Norah Jones, Regina Spektor, Frank Zappa and John Lennon. Check it out! Catch a show! And make up your own mind about this whimsical adventure seeker with stars in her eyes.