Audra Mae’s soulful voice soothes Houston

Audra Mae's soulful performance was more than pleasing to the Houston crowd. Mayra Cruz / www.sevensixtyeight.com

Audra Mae's soulful performance was more than pleasing to the Houston crowd. Mayra Cruz / www.sevensixtyeight.com

It must have been the strong, melodic sound of Audra Mae’s voice that brought in a Houston crowd out of the pre-summer heat and into the Meridian on Wednesday night. Presenting a mix of various genres, Mae flirted with the blues, country and rock for a sound all her own.

Though small in attendance, the audience was in for a treat as Mae entertained them with songs of her recently released album, The Happiest Lamb. Mae said she was looking to tell stories through her music when making the album.

“If it’s a good story, it’s a good story,” she said on writing her songs.

Inspiration usually arrives by words that sound catchy or a melody that she hums all day, she said.

Mae, the great-grand-niece of Judy Garland, said performing and singing was normal in her family, having starred in musical theater since the age of four. Singing at any time of the day was not unusual in her household.

“It wasn’t weird to suddenly burst into song,” she said. “We still do it.”

However, at times she didn’t realize the attention she was gaining with an unintended audience while she was growing up.

“I didn’t realize how thin the walls were,” she said. “My brother and his friends could hear me in the next room.”

More recently, Mae has enjoyed widespread attention after her cover of “Forever Young” was featured in the first season of the FX drama “Sons of Anarchy.” Although she’d been told that the song would be featured in the episode, Mae said she was still surprised at hearing it.

It was while watching the episode on her laptop that at one point, it flew out of her hands when she heard her voice, she said.

“I got sucked into the episode,” Mae said.

While she works on her music, she ultimately wants to be known for her eclectic style of music - similar to Willie Nelson, Bette Midler or Burt Bacharac, she said.

“Anyone who has survived doing their music so long that no one is surprised anymore,” Mae said. “That’s what I aspire to do.”

Along with headlining Philadelphia band Good Old War, the show kicked off with a rendition of Janis Joplin’s Turtle Blues. It showcased Mae’s rich, powerful voice while conveying all the complexity and tortured soul quality of the original.

She followed with the title track off of Lamb, along with the very memorable, expressive tunes of “The River,” “Snakebite”and “Bandida.” Mae’s mostly stripped down performance filled the venue with a voice that refused to be ignored.

Good Old War followed Mae’s performance, sounding out straightforward and catchy rock songs that recalled the sounds of California-based Rooney. It was towards the end of the night that the band got the audience to rally around them as they finished up their set.

Between both acts, it was Mae’s voice that was more clearly heard in the crowd.

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