For the average music fan, it is easy to get caught up in the theory of the woman singer as a diva. Commercial radio, music video channels, and the entertainment media constantly bombards the music enthusiast senses with women who demand certain perks for their album covers, have commercial endorsements, and have their every step chronicled by an ever adoring public.
Yet for every mega-superstar who appears to be nothing more than today's version of yesterday's idol, there are countless performers honing their skills on the underground music circuit. True, even the title "underground music" has a feeling of entertainers plying their trade to small audiences in the backrooms of Big City America, but for those who have experienced this scene, they have been treated to something special – artists who are not only phenomenal singers, but also songwriters who are relaying their message to an adoring audience waiting for their moment in the sun.
Honey Larochelle is one of those exciting artists building a following across American club scene with her own brand of rock, jazz, funk, and soul. In other words, simply good music. And from all appearances, she would not have it any other way.
"You get to do music your own way and create your own pressure and measurements for success," says the Vancouver, British Columbia native.
When following the trajectory of Honey Larochelle's burgeoning career, it is apparent that she was destined for a career in the performing arts. With a laugh, Ms. Larochelle discusses her first pubic performance, "I was five years old performing at Vancouver telethon with a choir. They put me right up front and my mum told me to shine my light. There were thousands of people there and I was just beaming at them."
Ms. Larochelle never turned back since then.
Within a year of that televised performance, she sang as a backup singer for a John Denver album. Since then, she spent the early part of her professional career as a backup singer for artists as diverse as Roberta Flack, Maya Azucena, and Donna Summer. Being true to her craft, she has taken something from each experience.
"I learn something new from almost everyone I work with… it becomes a history lesson," Ms. Larochelle stated.
Over the past year, Mr. Larochelle has balanced singing as a backup singer with fullfilling her own dream to be a solo artist. Her voice supported the last two Brand New Heavies tours. In the end, Ms. Larochlle was provided more than an internship, she received an corner office on how to approach a lasting career. Ms. Larochelle became a concert staple. Not only did she sing backup, but she was also given a chance to take center stage on one song each show. Her presence electrified the crowd.
"[N'dea Davenport, Brand New Heavies lead singer] is so beautiful and (took) me under her wing to develop me as a complete package and not just a good singer. She gave me a nice introduction at every show and a moment to really shine. I'm so thankful for that."
Macy Gray has also been a mentor for Ms. Larochelle having recently appeared at a performance at Brooklyn's Solomon Porch Cafe.
"I learned that she does most of her writing in the booth. (That's) a tactic that I've never had the guts to attempt," says Ms. Larochelle, "but after watching her do it, I'm excited to try it out."
The songwriting talent is one that separates Ms. Larochelle from other singers. This is a quality which allows for her to explore her emotions as a singer.
"Writing your own songs makes you way more attached to the meaning, so when you sing it, you're expressing your own feelings and listeners will likely be moved… [t]he notes don't have to be perfect, but your soul has to be wide open, and you have to be giving all of yourself , without holding anything back.
"Life is my biggest inspiration. Each song is born from different experiences, some from a mood, others from a specific message. But all (of my songs) definitely let you peek into my life, and hopefully something into your life too."
Honey Larochelle has been fortunate to have her songwriting interpreted by Gray, and wrote four songs for Jennifer Hudson's latest release, and numerous aspiring artists.
With the ability to write songs, having a great voice, it is Ms. Larochelle's ability to perform live which makes her a triple-threat. Besides touring with a variety of different acts, somehow, she has found the time to develop her own band. A chance to have a residency at Harlem's famed Lenox Lounge, not only allowed her to perfect her stage performance but also get closer with her new family.
"A residency is an opportunity for a band to grow together, and for a following to grow with it. It gives a band and the fans something to depend on, something to prepare for, and something to look forward to.
"[The Lenox Lounge residency] was an honor. To know that Billie Holiday and Ray Charles were among the many greats that set foot on that stage was extreme."
Through it all, Honey Larochelle talks a grassroots approach to develop her music career. Essentially, she is content on developing a loyal audience that will help spread the word about the good music their friends are missing. Once this base is developed, it will allow her music to begin reaching other audiences who are not so much "in the know". Though she does not have a major label deal and a constant media push, one gets the impression that Ms. Larochelle would not have it any other way.
"You get to do your own music your own way and create your own pressure and measurements for success.
"As an independent artist with no label support, the struggle is mostly financial. These days it's still really expensive to make music, but it's being distributed basically for free, so finding investors is more challenging. My goal is to have a happy medium – find a label that will help support my grassroots methods, fundraise, campaign, and enroll."
As Honey Larochelle continues to make inroads on the soul music club scene, she is eagerly awaiting the release of her first solo album, "Flight of the Honey B". A woman of many talents and emotions, the release is slated to bow during the first quarter of 2008.
According to Ms. Larochelle, "It should make you dance, make you party, make you appreciate your family, and make you feel beautiful. It should be a tool for falling in love."
With that credo, the industry should definitely look out for Honey Larochelle, a burgeoning talent waiting to be heard.Powered by Sidelines