Billboard-charting vocalist Heather Masse is bringing unreleased pieces from her album “Hold On” to Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Sept. 23. She will be joined by the bestselling author and radio legend, Garrison Keillor, and pianist Richard Dworsky, who served as music director for Keillor’s radio variety show “A Prairie Home Companion,” on which Heather was a frequent guest.
“Hold On,” Masse’s first original album in 10 years, is a collection of acoustic pop and jazz performances and features her long-time pianist and frequent collaborator Jed Wilson. It will be released on Oct. 11.
“Heather has been a vital inspiration to me both musically and personally,” Wilson said. “I think this new album is particularly remarkable as it exhibits her profound gifts as a songwriter.”
Masse, who was trained as a jazz singer at the New England Conservatory of Music, also collaborates as a member of the Billboard-charting folk group, The Wailin’ Jennys. “Bird Song,” the title track of her first full-length solo album won an international acoustic music award. In 2012, she was awarded a Juno award for The Wailin’ Jennys’ album “Bright Morning Stars.” Masse’s multifaceted musical experience in folk, pop and bluegrass infuses her latest original compositions with stylistic blend and nuance.
“I grew up singing hymns in church and listening to Joni Mitchell and Simon and Garfunkel, so there’s a big side of me musically that has that aspect, but I also grew up listening to a lot of jazz vocals like Ella Fitzgerald and John Varn, and I went to music school for jazz voice,” Masse detailed. “I have a big place in my heart for both genres, so it’s an easy blend for me to put them together.”
Tracks such as “The Garden” and “A Little More” reflect Masse’s folk ties, whereas “Crazy” and “Rozzy’s Song,” her loving tribute to late, great trombonist and friend Roswell Rudd, exhibit Masse’s jazz expertise. What unites each of the 11 tracks on this album are their gracefully reflective, introspective and comforting nature.
If Masse could encapsulate the essence of “Hold On” in one word, she said it would be “intimate” for the deep reflection of inner wisdom that inspired the album.
“I wrote ‘Hold On’ about trusting humanity and finding hope and peace amidst today’s chaos,” said Masse, who defines the intensity in terms of today’s climate change, political unrest and the general lack of trust and respect among humanity.
“Music has always been a way for me to process hard times or heartache or me questioning things, so through raising children, I use music as a way to process all of this hard stuff. [Songwriting] brings comfort and trust in myself and humanity,” Masse said. “My hope is that those messages are also felt for everyone else and bring them that same kind of comfort.”
“Hold On” will be released on Oct. 11. Tickets for Heather Masse at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club at 7 p.m. on Sept. 23 are available here.