READY TO ROAR Bee.
"Seeing Mary Bee interact and talk on a daily basis is totally different from hearing Mary Bee sing — it's like night and day," writes producer David Gonzalez, who worked with Bee on the new disc, Fiesole. "Talk to Mary and you'll get a lot of whispering and a lot of the shy, innocent girl thing, but then she starts singing and that little girl starts to roar like a lion wearing a corset. The transition is amazing and funny at the same time."
Fiesole (Lake House Sound) is the new collabo release from Gonzalez and Mary Brierly, known to all as Mary Bee, and the 10 tracks provide a full-fledged platform for Ms. Bee, who has previously worked with indie-folk crooner/guitarist Ben Pilgrim and the talented teen collective known as the Rhodeshow (Mary teamed with Joe Beats on "I Had a Feeling" on The Rhodeshow 2.0). Gonzalez served as a longtime mentor for Broad Street Studios and had a 10-year run working with youth at AS220 while breaking out as a hip-hop producer and performer, inspired specifically by "Prince Paul's early projects." Gonzalez was born in Brooklyn and raised in Rhode Island.
"I was always in a church choir, always taking piano lessons, always imagined being the fifth member of Boyz II Men."
Gonzalez, who relocated to Chicago from Providence last year, continues his work in the Windy City as director for a non-profit agency offering social services for middle school youth.
"Working with youth has always been fun and rewarding, but after the last Rhodeshow project, I was really looking to work on a project with someone closer to my age group," he told me. "Plus, I really wanted to create something different amongst all the talented producers in Rhode Island."
Gonzalez sent Mary 60 to 70 beats to filter through, and the back-and-forth process proved successful.
"This has been my favorite process of writing music yet," Mary said while tending bar at AS220. "Writing our parts separately allowed us to still keep each side of the music personal."
But it was a recent trip to Italy that clearly inspired Mary (perhaps it's no coincidence that Madonna remains her favorite singer); Fiesole is a town in Florence.
"Italy was particularly special because I met family who still live right outside Pompeii," she said. "It was wild because they had photographs of my mom and grandparents that I had never seen."
Modesty and adorable shy-girl routine aside, Mary did get a Fiesole advance in the hands of label reps at LA-based label Lake House Sound during a recent West Coast swing, wheeling and dealing and ultimately charming the label.
"Mary basically did all the talking and set it up," Gonzalez recalled. "Lake House instantly offers tremendous exposure well beyond Rhode Island."
"Hypnotic beats layered with soulful vocals and creative harmonies" reads the press release, and Fiesole opens with two of the album's best, "Without Fear" and "Everything," the latter a personal favorite for Mary, along with the title track. The R&B vibe shines through with the smoothed-out, speakeasy bassline on "Rainbows," while Gonzalez lays down rhymes on "Make Your World," "You Do You," and the closing two-minute gem "My Lament." But Mary Bee rightly remains the focus on Fiesole.
The disc will be available at her upcoming CD release party at Tazza and at MaryBeeMusic.com and iTunes. Those who bring winter and/or child care donations to the show will receive a free copy of the album.
MARY BEE + ROZ RASKIN & THE RICE CAKES + WHO DEM + ANJEL & AMBER NEWMAN | Friday, February 5 @ 8 pm | Tazza Caffe, 250 Westminster St, Providence | $5 | 401.421.3300