Best of the Listening Room | Meet Madeline Edwards

Best of the Listening Room | Meet Madeline Edwards
February 17, 2021

We’re shining a spotlight on some of the standout performances that have taken place in the listening room this year. Each week, we’re sharing a song or two from a past livestream show you need to hear.

This week meet singer-songwriter, Madeline Edwards, who serenaded the listening room with her signature raspy, rich vocals. Like the sounds of Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse? Then this rising artist is for you!

Can you name a moment that you realized how important music is to you? How did that moment shape your transition into a music career?

I was 4 years old when I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing the intro of ‘Blue Skies’ on a record. In the intro, she mimicked the brass section and actually made her voice sound like a trumpet. I don’t think my child brain could wrap my mind around what this was or how she was doing it, but I specifically remember experiencing sensory overload for the first time in my young life. That was when I think I had my first conscious thought of even wanting to do music or learn more about it. Over time, I learned exactly how Ella learned to make her voice do that and started learning how to do it myself. The rest is history.

Are there any specific albums that have had a big influence on your music career and style?

Definitely the Michael Jackson “Thriller” record. I grew up listening to it - I think from the time I was 5 years old to now, I can say I’ve played that record on repeat over 200 times. Regardless of whatever genre I venture into, I can still hear little traces of his inspiration (and that record in particular) in my melodies and songwriting. The second album would absolutely have to be “Con Todo El Mundo” by Khruangbin. When I heard them for the first time, it was like a weird nostalgia that I had never experienced before. I listen to that record and others of theirs pretty regularly before diving into the production process on my own projects.

Tell us about your latest single, “The Road.” What inspired you to write it? How do you feel while performing it now?

‘The Road’ is very special to me. I went through a lot of really hard shit before I wrote this. 2020 was obviously a rough year for everyone. For myself, I hadn’t put out music in over a year, my mom finally filed for divorce and my whole family was healing from the abuse of our dad. I went through counseling and healing from a sexual assault I went through on a label I was signed to years ago (a Christian label ironically). This song is an acknowledgment that the only thing that got me through all of the trauma and abuse was God. I still tear up when I perform this song because it takes me back to those pretty dark places and the strength he gave me to get out of them. I tell people it’s a miracle that I still even believe in God. The song (and the entire EP) are a very honest depiction of an actual, genuine relationship with him, which includes the good, the bad, and the ugly… a lot of things that people, especially Christians, are afraid to talk about.

Dream collaboration and why?

I would love to collaborate on a project with John Mayer. I’ve always gone in and out of waves of listening to him. In my opinion, he’s the only artist I’ve really heard that has successfully swung in and out of any genre he wants and makes it completely his own. My goal with these next few projects is also to make my mark as a multi-genre singer-songwriter. I’ve traditionally done jazz and R&B, this upcoming EP is gospel-pop and the following project will be country-western and Americana. John has been in my collection of inspiration with these projects, and it’d be interesting to create something with him within one of those genres, or better yet, come up with our own genre entirely.

How has your music career changed in the past year since the start of COVID-19?

Oh man, everything has changed over the year, and not even necessarily due to Covid. I mean, sure Covid has changed how much I perform or even how I perform. But even just over the last week, I’ve gotten married and moved from Houston to Nashville. My life has gone from being a professional gigging musician and feeling secure to pursuing being a full-time recording artist and songwriter and being scared as hell. It will all be worth it though. Covid has changed the way musicians pursue their craft, myself included. It’s a good thing. It’s teaching me to be scrappy again. There’s no way to be scrappy if you’re secure or comfortable.

How have you been keeping busy throughout quarantine?

Producing two records at once is enough to keep anyone busy, quarantine or not. The music industry has changed so much this year that it has become a part-time job just even researching how to stay relevant in such a fast-paced industry. You look into Instagram analytics and once you think you have them down, then “Look!” there’s a new medium out and it’s called Tik Tok. You do what you can to boost streaming on Spotify, but have you put time into your Apple Music page or Tidal? There’s so much to keep up with as an independent artist. You basically act as your own manager, publicist, marketing agent, graphic designer, agent, merch manager…. Oh yeah, and then you have to allow time to still be an artist. This has been life in quarantine this year.

If you could play a Sofar show anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you want it to be?

I think I would absolutely lose my mind if I played a Sofar show on a rooftop somewhere in Paris. I spent some time there with my brother after graduating college, and I still get emotional thinking about those memories. I don’t think I’d be able to make it through the show without breaking down multiple times and crying. Ugly crying. Nothing about the crying would be graceful.

Any projects you’re working on right now?

I’m currently releasing a gospel-pop EP titled “The Road,” which the single is on. And in the meantime, I’m also currently writing and producing a country-western/Americana project in Nashville. I’ve got a pretty mixed bag of country legends that have inspired me in the making of this upcoming record, some of them including Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Ray Price, Shania Twain, Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton and Kacey Musgraves. I’ve been taking a year to research the genre and learn, learn, learn… going all the way back to 1940’s bluegrass. It’s all part of the process of taking each genre and not only doing it, but doing it well.

Find more emerging artists performing in the Sofar listening room, and check out all of our Best of the Listening Room featured artists on our YouTube channel.