Now more than ever, it’s important to hear LGBTQ voices raised, expressing strength and pride. And of course, it’s always nice to hear these sentiments set to some beautiful music. That’s exactly what Richmond will get a double dose of at The Tin Pan in the West End on Wednesday night. Heather Mae and Crys Matthews, two LGBTQ singer-songwriters with beautiful voices and powerful messages, will be hitting the stage that night, and showing up for this one is a great way to chase away the midweek doldrums.
Heather Mae got her start as a singer-songwriter as she was graduating from New York’s American Musical and Dramatic Academy in 2008, kicking things off with a bang with her “One Year Of Songs” project, which saw her writing and recording a song a day for a year. However, not long after she completed this project, she was sidelined for a couple of years due to nodules on her throat that required a lengthy recovery. “I was told I would never sing again and I went through an introspective time,” she says on her website. “It was having to sit in silence that changed me. I hadn’t ever used my voice for good and that became my mantra as I recovered.”
These days, Heather Mae is touring behind her 2016 EP, I Am Enough, which deals with subjects near and dear to her heart, ones she’d never felt confident enough to sing about before. “I had been too afraid to put myself out there and be exposed. It’s one thing to write about love, it’s another thing to write about loving your partner – who is a woman,” Mae says on her website. “To sing about what life is like as a plus size woman, the self acceptance and right to feel great about myself, and social issues that meant the most to me. Before I went through this health challenge, and almost lost it all, fear held me back. It wasn’t worth the risk. But I got the message that it can be taken away in a second, and I knew it was time to step up.”
The EP’s title song is a body-positivity anthem that interjects pop elements into Mae’s folk-based sound. Originally performing with nothing but her voice and a ukulele, she’s incorporated influences from the thoughtfully constructed pop sounds of artists like Tegan and Sara. And she’s made it a priority to sing about important issues, attempting to connect with audiences of all demographics. “As a queer woman, it is important that I speak to my experience in hopes that others see what makes my experience unique, but even more importantly, what makes our experiences similar,” she says in a recent press release.
Crys Matthews, who will join Heather Mae at this performance, is a Virginia native with a memorable voice and a politically-informed songwriting approach of her own. She’s strongly invested in the folk music tradition, and won the grand prize in 2017′s NewSong Music Competition, which earned her a much-coveted performance at Lincoln Center on November 30th of last year.
Also in 2017, Matthews released both an LP, The Imagineers, and an EP, Battle Hymn For An Army Of Lovers, through a successful crowdfunding double-header campaign. And her most recent YouTube video finds her doing a solo performance of a song called “All We Can Do,” which was written about last year’s total solar eclipse. Awesome.
You can catch Heather Mae and Crys Matthews live at the Tin Pan, which is located at 8982 Quioccasin Rd in the West End, on Wednesday, March 28. Doors open at 8 PM, and admission is $15. Tickets can be purchased here. For more info, click here.