What I like most about music is its power to transport you to another place and to change your emotion in a single moment. When I first heard Marla Joy sing, I was transported to another era where auto-tune and iPod DJs did not exist. She was introduced to the crowd at Bagatelle to sing a few songs, and while I pegged her to be a rugged, angst-y kind of Ke$ha-type pop star, when she belted her first note, I nearly dropped my glass of pinot noir. Marla sang her self-written track “Changes” with such soul and raw passion I thought I was witnessing the ghost of Janis Joplin in the heart of New York City’s Meatpacking District.
After her 3-song set that night I took down her name and shamelessly started researching her music and background like a teenager that just discovered Justin Bieber. Turns out Marla took the long road from Canada to downtown Manhattan. At the age of 14, she was taking care of herself, practically homeless and completely inspired by music of the late 60s and early 70s—Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin were her closest confidants and singing was her escape from reality. The uninhibited emotion of those artists that still resonates with every new generation as much as the last. Marla Joy has that same kind of timeless spirit in her music.
As with most things, I thought I was way ahead of the game, but alas Marla Joy had already made her mark in some of the most famous venues in New York like Don Hills, The Highline Ballroom and Arlene’s Grocery. She’d also opened for Citizen Cope and performed with Prince on his coveted after parties/jams on the legend’s Canadian tour. OK, so I wasn’t her first fan. But she’s still fresh to the scene so watch out! She’s currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on her debut album with Grammy award winning producer Syience, who’s produced for everyone from Jay-Z, Beyonce and Mary J. Blige to John Legend, Ne-Yo and Frank Ocean. In the meantime, while we wait for Marla’s debut check out this future superstar’s website: marlajoy.com