Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
YouTube has brought forth new artists that would not always get the exposure the Internet offers. Two women in music this article will focus on are Julia Nunes and Marié Digby who both allowed this powerful media tool to work for them to achieve the success they are shining in today.
Nunes, whose father and grandfather have worked in the music field, has shared both original and cover songs through YouTube gaining a huge fan following. With the recognition and popularity she earned with these videos she has played the Bonnaroo music festival both in 2009 and 2010, opened for Ben Folds in 2008 and The Bacon Brothers in that same year, and is currently opening for Ben Kweller.
Julia is a born performer. Harmonizing quirky humour with her talent, – and often her equally quirky trademark ukulele – light emanates through her infectious smile to transport the viewer into the music. This works perfectly for visual performances such as the intimate Internet music video or live on stage, but her true test will be whether or not her music will be able to stand on its own in audio format alone.
Her cover of The Foundations’ song “Build Me Up Buttercup,” with nearly two million views on YouTube at the time of writing, is a must-see and a perfect example of Nunes’ unique blend of comedy and skill. “The Debt,” from her second CD I Wrote These, shows off her depth as a songwriter as well as the range of her vocal talents with the utilization of beatboxing. Her current CD is the EP I Think You Know.
Marié Digby started a little differently. In 2004 she won the Pantene Pro-Voice competition and was signed by Hollywood Records (Disney – Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers) in 2005, but didn’t achieve notoriety until 2007 when she posted a cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” on YouTube which fans quickly fell in love with resulting in radio play as well as being featured on the television show The Hills and then an appearance on Last Call with Carson Daly. She has released three full albums and one EP, including Second Home, which was recorded in Japanese, reflecting her Japanese ancestry.
Although there is no denying she is a YouTube sensation, this hasn’t come without controversy. A 2007 Wall Street Journal article suggested that Digby and her record label were involved a strategy to take advantage of her anonymity and use the video sharing site to launch her career under the premise that she was actually an amateur. Digby has denied that this is the case. In actuality, it doesn’t really matter since Digby will have to keep her fans by proving her talent just like any other artist.
With her clean, smooth voice and exotic looks she really does have all the tools necessary to achieve superstardom. She has that poised and polished look and sound one would expect from a major label represented artist. Original songs that stand out include “Stupid for You,” “Say it Again” and “Avalanche,” which all are pretty, Disneyesque pure pop songs. “Swoon” and “Voice on the Radio” possess a little more highly skilled lyrics, but they are earlier in her career and her latest album doesn’t show the same depth. Digby is still a very young artist and can, hopefully, improve her writing abilities to become a truly respected singer/songwriter. She is someone to watch.
These are two distinctly different artists, but whether your interest lean toward raw vibrant potential or up-and-coming polished pop lyricist it is likely one of them will wind up on your playlist.