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The sound of downtown in the Boro


November 30, 2017

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For those that love live music and local artists, there is often an association of places with specific types of music. New Orleans lives and breathes jazz. Nashville is the home of country music. Across the country and around the world, specific places have their own unique sound. So what, then, is the sound of Statesboro?

If this were a recipe, we would have to start with the gospel, bluegrass and country that are woven into the fabric of the region. Add a dash of Blind Willie McTell for his song “Statesboro Blues” and a helping of southern rock thanks to The Allman Brothers Band version of that same song. No discussion of Statesboro music would ever be complete without the music of Emma Kelly, and the presence of Georgia Southern guarantees that there is always going to be a youthful vibe to our signature sound. Quite a varied mix.

With all of these influences, is there one performer who manages to capture the essence of these elements and weave them into a coherent, unique sound? Local singer/songwriter Brandi Harvey hopes that she can. 

A native of Gainesville, Florida, Harvey grew up performing in various churches across northern Florida and South Georgia where her father was a minister. After moving back to Statesboro a few years ago, she began collaborating with other local artists on a variety of musical and stage productions at the Averitt Center for the Arts, including the Motown musical Dreamgirls, the Patsy Cline tribute show Always...Patsy Cline, Russ Lanier’s Music of the Eagles, and most recently with the Fleetliners’ Women of Country Music.

We sat down with Harvey to ask her about her musical influences, style, and aspirations, and why she hopes to be the “Sound of Downtown,” as dubbed by Stephen Maenpaa at 40 East Grille.

“I grew up singing in church, but my influences range from Karen Carpenter to Joan Jett to Whitney Houston. I have always had a hunger to expand my ability, so I grew up listening to anything I could get my hands on," she said.

When asked about her personal style of music, Harvey replied, “The word ‘eclectic’ comes to mind! Seriously, my base is jazz and blues. That’s where I feel most comfortable, and then I throw in a mix of everything else. I love the music of Patsy Cline because of its timelessness and soulfulness, but then I also love Imelda May for her sass and attitude. I try to capture that in my performances. I want people to feel my love for the music as well as being entertained by it.”

As for her aspirations, “When I was little, it was my dream to be a 'rock star.' While I don't feel the need to perform stadiums at this point in my life, I feel like the journey is one that a lot of people can relate to. I want to share that journey, and the music that comes out of it, with others. Music has a way of connecting people in a way that nothing else can."

So why should Harvey wear the mantle of the Sound of Downtown?

 “I want to represent Statesboro because I love it here; I love the opportunities that it has given me and that it still continues to give me. This is a unique and special place. For all the tradition and southern charm, there’s an energy here; an appreciation for the arts, for music, and an optimism that I really want to be associated and identified with,” Harvey said.

Harvey performs most Thursday nights at 40 East Grille with the duet R&B, and on weekends with Richmond Hill-based band Moss City Groove.


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