Belmont sophomore Lea Marie Golde is one of the most buzz worthy musical acts on campus. With such a mixed following of admirers, analysts and onlookers offering both support and criticism, the sophomore songwriting major’s popularity — and posters — cannot be ignored.
Golde, more widely known as Lea Marie, had the first show in Curb Café history where mandatory wristbands had to be given out to manage the crowd at her October show, according to event coordinator Emilija Clark. This was her third show in the Curb Café, and students began to arrive at more than two hours early to see it. During the show, there were more people outside watching through the glass than inside the venue, Lea Marie’s manager Richard Swor said.
Lea Marie already has produced an 11-original song CD as well as a DVD with six original music videos. A third album, “Undercover Lover,” is in the works with a January 2012 release date.
“I would say [my style] is definitely pop. I’m a cross between Lady Gaga and Madonna. But I like to call it, ‘MaGaga’ because it describes perfectly what I do,” Lea Marie said.
Last month, Vision multimedia editor Annalise Kraus sat down with this singer/songwriter to find out more about the artist behind the popular Curb Café shows.
BV: How did songwriting become a passion of yours?
LM: I come from a very musical family. Somebody was always playing the piano, the violin or singing. A bunch of my cousins also went to Julliard. There was always music in my home. I decided I wanted to get serious about playing the piano when I was 8 years old, and the first four chords my piano teacher gave me, I wrote a song. I’ve been writing for over a decade now, and I’ve taken many songwriting classes. I actually went to the Kauai Music Festival and places all over the United States for songwriting workshops. I would say songwriting is something that kind of came naturally to me. I don’t know why, I just started writing and it’s become a part of me. It’s like songwriting would be the sun with all the planets revolving around it. Songwriting is the center of my universe.
It sounds like you’re really involved in producing your own music.
BV: What is your favorite part?
LM: I think it’s really exciting when I have the melody in my head and I finally get to hear what it’s like with the piano. Also I love when I’m in production of a song, the element that just pushes it over that edge when you’re like, ‘Wow! It’s really produced now.’ To actually hear the vision you have in your head out on the loudspeakers. There’s nothing I enjoy more than hearing a song that I just wrote, fully produced. It’s like the glory moment, it’s so exciting and I can’t wait for other people to hear it. I also love a live audience and interacting with them.
BV: What or who is your inspiration for writing, producing and performing music?
LM: There are so many artists that have influenced me throughout the years. I really love Billy Joel, Elton John, Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell. They’re all wonderful artists. I also am inspired by Britney Spears, Madonna, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, all the people that are in that juggernaut. I would say I take a little bit from other artists, but I also bring a lot of originality and uniqueness to the table in my artistry and through my writing. I am a pop artist and that’s what I do, so I want to also wear something that expresses who I think I am as an artist.
In addition to writing music for your own performances, you are also hoping to add writing music for TV and film to your repertoire.
BV: How did that start?
LM: The first movie I ever saw that I came home really inspired about was “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I went home right away and wrote a song about it. I also wrote a song after I saw the film, “Enchanted,” and more recently “Twilight.” I then realized that I could write for TV and film, so I got a bunch of those songs together and I submit them online through various websites. They could either play the song in the actual movie or they could put it in the soundtrack. So, hopefully, that’s something I will be able to get into in my future.
BV: You auditioned for “American Idol” in August 2008 and your audition was broadcast on the opening night of the season. What was the experience like?
It was great. I auditioned when I was 16 and I was actually in Nashville for a songwriting workshop at the time. They had already had the San Diego auditions, so I decided to fly out to Arizona and try out. I brought my songwriting book with me—which had about 200 songs in it—and I presented it to Kara DioGuardi on the panel. She flipped through it and told me that for someone who has so much material, I was obviously very dedicated and should keep it up. She was very encouraging. I was the first person, actually, to go on the show as a songwriter first and a singer second. … The audition was a wonderful experience. I released an album a few months later and the exposure from “American Idol” boosted the number of views on my website.
BV: You wanted not only to have a musical career, but also to continue your education after high school. How did you decide to pursue your academic career at Belmont?
LM: I knew I wanted to be a songwriting major and there are only a few schools in the United States that have a songwriting major. There’s Berklee and Belmont, so there weren’t too many choices, but I chose Belmont because it is in Music City and there are so many opportunities here. It’s a very songwriter-oriented town, I would say, and I was really drawn to that.
BV: Being a student in addition to pursuing a musical career, how do you balance the two?
LM: Because I am a full-time, year-round student, I go to school over the summers doing full semesters in addition to full semesters during the regular school year. All of my traveling is to Los Angeles for shooting music videos and performing in other places than Nashville. I usually travel over spring and Christmas breaks. I would say I do a lot of juggling. Usually during the week I mainly focus on schoolwork, but I try to do one thing for my musical career every day. It could be writing a new song, or submitting a song for film and television. Then usually over the weekends I will work on my songwriting.
BV: Has all the hard work you’ve put into your music paid off in any recognition or awards?
LM: When I was 15 years old, I submitted my demo to “Music Connection” magazine. It was a 3-song demo and I wanted to see what the response would be. They called me at the end of the year, and they told me, of all the demos that were submitted that year, I ended up having the No. 1 pop demo of 2007. I was very happy about that, so I finished up working on that demo and then released it as an album.
BV: Like any artists, there are those who really enjoy the music you produce, but there are also those who don’t like it. Knowing there may be some people in the crowd that don’t necessarily like your music, how do you still have the confidence to get up and perform?
LM: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you’re going to be in this industry, you know that everybody has an opinion. There are so many people that have written me wonderful letters, so why even focus on the negativity when there’s so much support?
BV: Other than Belmont’s Curb Café, where else do you perform?
LM: I perform at the Hotel Indigo. They have a wonderful red piano that I love. I also have performed at The Listening Room. If it’s a more acoustic venue, I will do a “Lea Marie Unplugged Night” with my keyboard, with maybe a violinist and a cellist. If it’s more of a pop venue, which I perform at most of the time, I’ll bring my dancers and my pop tracks and put on a real show. I also have performances in 18+ clubs around Nashville in the works.
BV: What do you do in your free time, any hobbies?
LM: I love to swim. I actually used to be a competitive swimmer. I love painting. I used to do a lot of oil painting. I also love going to musicals.