Cariad Harmon, Suzie Brown & Scot Sax, Jon Paul

Cariad Harmon

Listening to Cariad Harmon, it's hard to believe that the singer-songwriter spent much of her youth galavanting through the streets of London and dancing until the wee hours of the morning to legendary house and techno DJs at West London's now defunct Club UK. It's not surprising, however, to learn that after the parties were over, Harmon returned home to secretly throw on a Tracy Chapman or Bob Dylan album and strum her acoustic guitar.

Being caught between two worlds is a common echo in Harmon's life. She grew up in the crossroads of two cultures: the cynical sensibility of England, and the romantic innocence of the American dream. With an English mother and an American father, Harmon has often struggled with feeling like an outsider in both the English and American worlds; she now embraces this feeling in her folk-inspired songwriting, which can be ironic, cheeky, vulnerable, and euphoric at times. Harmon's range in style stems from experiences in frustration, confrontation, and new beginnings, with surviving the precariousness of New York City (her current home base) serving as the overarching theme on her upcoming album.

In Harmon's music, conscientiously-crafted harmonies, sensitivity toward the arc of a song, and drum beats that stray from the typical country ditty complement her writing. Harmon's lyrics are delivered with emotional directness and effortlessly flow as she splays them over delicate and nuanced guitar work. Influenced as much by contemporary artists Father John Misty and Ray Lamontagne as legends such as The Band and Carole King, Harmon's most obvious talent lies in her ability to tell stories.

Both of Harmon's Grandmothers, for example, were talented artists who never had the chance to realize their potential because of the times they lived in; her family's story feeds Harmon's no-excuses attitude and readiness to scrap for her dreams. This conviction pushes Harmon to explore the intense emotional lives of others, while also serving as the protagonist of her own work, in which her overwhelming willingness to realize the totality of her art is obvious when she sings I wanna be famous, son of a gun…I want you all to know my name when I'm done. Oh, I wanna be someone. I wanna be someone. ("I Wanna Be Famous")

Harmon's debut album Four Letters caught the attention of music mini-mogul Adam Dorn (a.k.a. Mocean Worker), who released the album on his label MOWO! Inc. in 2009. In addition, Harmon's music has been featured in the film The Hawk is Dying (starring Paul Giamatti), and earned her the semifinalist title in the 2013 International Songwriting Competition.

Cariad Harmon's self-titled album boasts performances by Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius and Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees, and will be released in November 2014. Co-Producers Oli Rockberger and Chris Abell (Mat & Kim, Pete Yorn, Alabama Shakes) heavily influenced the record's sound, while executive producer Matt Pierson (Grammy nominees Kirk Whalum, Brad Mehldau), who is largely credited in the Jazz community, produced 5 of the album's 11 tracks, and mixed and mastered the project giving the album a salient voice.

Harmon will perform at the CMJ Music Marathon this fall with a showcase at Rockwood Music Hall, where she performs regularly, in Manhattan. Previously, Harmon has been covered by Verbicide Magazine, New York Magazine, and Rolling Stone's Mark Kemp, who says, "Like [Joni] Mitchell and [Norah] Jones, the fragile-voiced Harmon endearingly cuts off her words at the ends of her lines; unlike them, her lyrics seem to span many decades."

In yet another instance of straddling two worlds, Cariad Harmon's listeners will discover that the performer sings her Americana-inspired music with an English accent — something she avoided doing for years. By using her natural voice, Harmon's songwriting expands to capture her outlook, which allows her stories to flow more freely, and shows that being of two worlds doesn't mean splitting oneself in two, but rather living twice-as-fully.

Suzie Brown & Scot Sax

Suzie Brown writes songs to process her life. For a singer-songwriter, it’s not that unique of a creative impulse. But when you’re also a cardiologist, used to being stoic and selfless on the job, the catharsis is even more essential.

“Music is my place to be honest,” says Brown. “I can say how I'm really feeling. I like not having to be so strong."

With her gift for unforgettable melodies and evocative lyrics, it’s hard to imagine it’s been only six years since she penned her first song. In that time, she’s been nominated for several Independent Music Awards, named a finalist in the Mountain Stage NewSong contest, a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition, among other accolades, and had her music featured at Starbucks, The Gap and Anthropologie.

Scot Sax knows his way around a song. He has been writing them for years, whether it was with his own bands Wanderlust and Feel, or as a purveyor of hits for singers like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It was Sax, in fact, who co-wrote the country duo’s Grammy-winning smash “Like We Never Loved At All.” His catchy “I Am the Summertime,” penned while with the band Bachelor Number One, was featured in the blockbuster “American Pie.” And he’s netted countless TV credits, with song placements in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”

Brown and Sax met by chance at a mutual friend’s wedding. 11 months later they were married. It didn’t take long to realize that their chemistry was infectious both on and off the stage, and they have been slowly but surely combining their musical worlds. Sax co-produced Brown’s latest album ‘Almost There’ with Oliver Wood (Wood Brothers). Brown’s folk/Americana roots influenced Sax to explore a more raw, stripped down sound on his latest release “I’m in A Mood.”

The couple relocated to Nashville in the winter of 2014, and have spent much of this year co-writing with some of Nashville’s finest writers. This November, they are embarking on their first tour as a duo.

Before the release of Jon Paul's debut self-titled EP, he was a finalist in the regional rounds of the 2011 New Song Mountain Stage Music contest. The EP, produced by Chris Jacobie, hosts a fantastic lineup of musicians including Ramy Antoun (Alexi Murdoch, Seal) Michael Bellar (Amos Lee) Eric Heywood (Ray LaMontagne) and mixed by Richie Biggs (The Civil Wars, Nickel Creek). "It was an honor getting to work with players that I admire so much. I'm really happy with the way it came out, and can't wait for people to hear it."

Jon Paul, a 2008 Berklee College of Music graduate, studied songwriting and guitar performance, but has been involved with music all of his life. Growing up with a severe stammer as a child, music was his only way to escape the trapped feeling of not being able to communicate what he wanted to say.

Jon Paul has been pleasing audiences everywhere from all around the Northeast, Texas and England with his unique approach to songwriting. His debut EP is a launching pad for a musician that won't be going anywhere for a while, "music is one of the most important things in my life. As long as I'm alive, I'll still be writing."

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