The Stettler Variety Showcase presents the fabulous vocal stylings of Vancouver’s Maya Rae on March 8th at the Stettler Performing Arts Centre. There will be two performances – 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for students and are available at WISH Kitchen & Gifts or at the door.
As her bio points out, “In an age when so much music feels overproduced and lacking in genuine emotion, her songs come like a breath of fresh air. Vital, committed and uplifting, the upcoming sophomore release from Maya Rae Can You See Me? is the real deal.”
“I’ve been singing ever since I was about nine years old,” she explained during a recent chat. And it wasn’t long before she started laying down tracks, recording a Christmas single at 11. That tune landed radio airplay, and it also wasn’t long before people started taking note of this truly gifted young performer.
Rae has been singing professionally since the age of 12, and she recorded her first album Sapphire Birds featuring jazz and classic pop standards at 13.
She comes by it all quite naturally, as she describes her family as music lovers.
“I definitely grew up with a lot of The Beatles and groups like that. But really, I kind of got myself into jazz,” she explained of her genre of specialty. She also recalled being struck by the musical magic of legendary singers like Ella Fitzgerald at an early age as well.
“I started listening to a lot of her music and the music of other powerhouse women,” she added, noting that at just 17 years of age, it’s also a genre not a lot of people her age listen to these days. “I wanted to help bring it back for my generation,” she said. “There is something about the whole kind of energy around it.”
Her live performances also allow the listener to hear a young storyteller on stage, weaving her original tunes through a concert that is also a delightful combination of jazz standards and classics.
“I write songs that convey a message of self-love and female empowerment,” she explained. “The main message that I want to get across to my listeners is to promote one’s authenticity and to bring hope and empowerment to those who listen.”
Meanwhile, Rae is very excited about the early April release of her latest disc Can You See Me?
“I recorded that album almost a year ago in Nashville,” she said, adding that she started writing songs for the project with her brother Gabriel back in the summer of 2018. It proved to be a rich and rewarding collaboration, as her brother is a poet and Rae tends to specialize in crafting melodies.
It’s also a notable change of pace for Rae, as it’s not a ‘jazz’ album per se.
Rather, the collections has been inspired by classic singers like Carol King and Nina Simone, performers such as The Beatles and Joni Mitchell as well as modern-day hitmakers such as Ed Sheeran and Adele.
Rae simply felt ready to record an album of original material, noting that the style could be described more as being along the lines of roots and folk.
“It’s very different from my first album,” she said, adding that she’s very excited to explore new sonic territory and see what audiences think of the finished work. “I’ve been writing music since I was nine years old – on my first album, there are two originals. There has always been the ‘jazzy’ influences, but I tend to write whatever just comes out,” she added with a laugh.
The record was produced by veteran roots musician and producer Steve Dawson.
On the strength of the demo she sent him, Dawson invited Rae to head down to Nashville, saying that he had time to lay down tracks the very next week.
“When I sent him the demos, he was very excited,” she said. “We kind of went into the project blindly, not knowing what to expect – but it was a very cool experience, and it was a very collaborative experience,” she added. “He really encouraged all of the players on the album to pitch in their ideas. He had a very ‘open’ approach, and it all paid off.”
Meanwhile, for Rae, the magic of artistry boils down to connecting with audiences.
“The main reason why I love to play shows is seeing how it all affects other people,” she explained, noting that seeing how people specifically respond to her tunes keeps her inspired. “It’s about making other people feel good which is very rewarding.”
Again, tickets for her Stettler show are $30 for adults and $15 for students and are available at WISH Kitchen & Gifts or at the door.