Sasha Colette Can't "Leave It Alone"
“Heaven’s doors are closed to those with bloody hands,” sings Sasha Colette in “Ballad of Nicole Penix Vanzant” about an unsolved 2009 murder in Eastern Kentucky. Colette brings her band, The Magnolias, to The Empty Glass Friday.
Reposted from The Charleston Gazette
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sasha Colette’s story reads like it’s right out of Hollywood: small town Eastern Kentucky girl raised on church music and some hard times is brought through them with her free spirit and faith in herself to make music and fans after leaving home.
Colette has gone from piano lessons at age 6 to guitar at age 12 to a 16-year old waitress looking to record some demos. Now 22, she has, along with her band The Magnolias and multi-instrumentalist Bud Carroll, just released her third CD, “Leave It Alone.”
She’ll bring her version of Americana and folk to The Empty Glass Friday.
Fresh off the release of the new eight-song CD, Colette talked over the phone about her self-described “poetic life.” For the past six months or so, Colette, born and raised in Olive Hill, Ky., has lived just up Route 60 in Morehead, Ky.
“I have a home now,” she said of her living situation. This is noteworthy because for a few months last summer, Colette found herself living as a “professional camper” before making the move.
“There are people here who play music,” Colette said. “The original core of the Magnolias are all based out of Morehead. We’re spending a lot of time together now as a band. I enjoy being where my friends are, where my people are.”
Morehead is home to Morehead State University, a school that factors heavily into musical path Colette and the Magnolias have found themselves on. It was a music program there that helped Colette find her soulful voice as a formative 16-year-old.
“I took lessons for about a year from a lady on campus, and she worked with this black gospel ensemble. It was mostly African Americans -- well, there were two white girls -- and I was the youngest. They just had that soul,” she said emphatically, trailing off in awe. “They gave me some soul, for sure. They taught me how to sling it out there.”
Colette’s soulful voice is on display on the new CD, which also features Carroll’s contributions on guitar and in the studio.
“I don’t want to call him a rock star, but he’s a rock star,” Colette said laughing.
“With Bud, I’d play through a song and he encouraged me to do it my way and not try to step in and take over. Most musicians would take the reigns and stamp it with whatever they’ve got, but he was encouraging enough for me to say ‘I did that myself.’”
Last year, Colette did a collaboration of another sort. She teamed with reporter and writer Fred Brown Jr. on “Ballad of Nicole Penix Vanzant,” a swaying country song about the still unsolved 2009 murder of the 27-year-old Frenchburg, Ky., woman. (Frenchburg is about 25 miles from Morehead.)
“I’ve worked with him before on some songs,” Colette said of Brown. “He gave me the Nicole Penix Vanzant song and told me to see what I could do with it. I put some music to it, and we figured we could do it for this Fuse the Muse project here in town, where a local art center had a program to bring two mediums together, whatever they may be.”
The song was put to a video and has since been viewed by thousands of people on YouTube as well as featured in local and national press outlets. Colette says the song is as much a search for justice as an exercise in creativity.
“The video has been super well received,” she said, slowing down, speaking carefully. “But it’s strange being involved in something like this because what you’re saying for TV interviews or wherever, talking about this, it’s not just for fun, you know? It’s enjoyable [playing the song] but it has a serious, responsible part to it as well.
“I got to meet Nicole’s mom, at the show, when we premiered the video. And that really sealed the deal right there. I was so happy that I was involved in a project that I would want to happen if I were to have had the fate that Nicole came to.
“If that happened to me, and my mom was left like Nicole’s mom was left? She had no closure. All she knows is, it’s really unfair. It’s unfair and it’s just heart wrenching. Nobody deserves to be left like that.”
Whether the ballad brings about justice or not, it’s just another case of Colette doing what she loves to do.
“I’m just taking pen to page as best I can because it’s what I enjoy.”
WANT TO GO?
Sasha Colette and the Magnolias
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
INFO: www.reverbnation.com/sashacolette or 304-345-3914
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