I first noticed Alaina Stacey when she appeared in a Profiles Theater production of the play, “The Dream of the Burning Boy,” in the spring of 2013. A senior at Whitney Young High School, she turned in a knockout of a performance, portraying a nerdy girl devastated by the sudden death of her brother, and appalled by the memorials devised for him by his unfaithful girlfriend and classmates.
While I fully expected Stacey to head off to college, or to stay in town and continue working on countless other Chicago stages, she did neither of those things. In fact, she proceeded to develop her other major talents as a singer-songwriter.
I initially heard her perform with a small band at Martyr’s, the lively club at 3855 N. Lincoln, and was again mightily impressed — this time by her lush voice, her captivating melodies and lyrics, and her wholly easeful stage presence. And by that time she had decided to take “a gap year” between high school and college, moving down to Nashville to try her luck in the music business.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, once again at Martyrs. Stacey was back in town, visiting with her parents and an older brother, Jordan (a Cornell grad who worked briefly as an actor but “transitioned into film and editing”). And she was performing with Maybe April, the group she formed with two other immensely talented young musicians who are now all based in Nashville — Kristen Castro (of California, a sensational guitarist, as well as vocalist), and Katy Bishop (a golden-voiced singer from Arkansas). The three women, who also were recording several songs for an upcoming album while here (release date to be announced), were next heading off for another gig at the Postock Festival in Albany, Wisc.
The members of Maybe April first teamed up in the summer of 2012 while participating in the Nashville-based GRAMMY Camp that is billed as “the live-in music industry camp where participants with varied interests learn how the music business works and can begin developing a strategy that will increase their chances at having a successful career in music.” It was a magical mix.
The appeal of Maybe April is multifaceted: The lustrous harmonies of the voices; the appealing mix of their personalities; and their winningly under-amplified sound which lends their performance an almost acoustic quality. Those songs are a mix of country/folk-Americana/indie sounds and feature sophisticated lyrics that suggest the glowing beauty of this trio of feminine souls hides a certain amount of heartbreak and worldliness, though not the loss of a romantic spirit.
At Martyr’s, Stacey told the story of how the group recently met two of their idols — Bonnie Raitt and Kris Kristofferson. After hearing Maybe April play, Kristofferson told them: “Don’t ever quit.” And that might just keep them going for a very long time to come.
For updates on Maybe April, visit the group’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MaybeApril. (It already has several Nashville dates on its calendar for the coming months including: Aug. 26th at the Tin Roof Revival; and Sept. 14 and Nov. 1 at the Commodore Grille.)
Here’s a link to Maybe April’s video page: http://www.maybeapril.com/videos/
(Note: The first video on that page links directly to youtube: http://youtu.be/Fjv_M1QILYA ) and is the video collage of a Martyrs’ show filmed earlier this year by Jordan Stacey and John Dickson of Hutchinsons Media (http://www.hutchinsonsmedia.com).