Amanda Duncan
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Amanda Duncan

Warrington, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Warrington, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band Pop Acoustic

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When most of you think about what type of music is the most popular on OurStage, you probably think hip hop, rock, pop even country. Well this past February the grand prize winner, the person that was chosen out of tens of thousands of artists on OurStage, the person that won $5,000 was none other than singer-songwriter, acoustic-folk-bluegrass artist Amanda Duncan — but that’s what OurStage is all about. Amanda Duncan may not make music that you would normally hear on the Top 40 charts, and she may not be the artist with the largest fan base, but her music truly sets her apart. Her song was voted the BEST track out of all genres on OurStage not because of her popularity, but because her music is genuinely THAT good.

Armed with a guitar, mandolin, various hand percussion instruments, a killer voice and—as you can see above—a great sense of humor, Amanda Duncan is slowly winning hearts all over the country with her heartfelt lyrics that cut right to the core ( in the most positive, simplistic way you could imagine). Her song “Fall Into You” was recently nominated for an Independent Music Award for “Best Love Song” and according to her blog her songs had a whole classroom of unruly second graders up and dancing. Needless to say, there’s a lot of love surrounding Amanda Duncan and it really comes at no surprise. Her brutally honest lyrics are juxtaposed perfectly with melody and instrumentation that leaves the listener feeling as if they’ve been basking in the sun. Check out the OurStage player below for some perfect songs to add to your spring playlist! You can purchase her latest EP Love I Have For You right here on iTunes! - OurStage.com


I remember when I was playing full-time in the music scene. While there were some crazy bands out there, most of us had no phony expectations about what we were doing.You pretty much did what you did because you were known for that and it just came naturally. Early development included heavy practice, vision and, above all, passion for the music. But, as you start to chase those elusive dreams of fame and fortune, the managers and agents ooze out of the woodwork, hissing commands like, “Don’t do that! Think this way! Wear this! Play here, but don’t play here! Smile, baby smile!!”… And so, the innocence begins to scream away like a deflating balloon on the hot summer roof of a North Jersey strip mall.

This being said, that’s one of the many reasons I love Amanda Duncan. She safeguards her appeal by never forgetting why she’s doing what she does.As she says in her song “Love I Have For You”:“Fifty cent words cannot explain all the feelings I have for you.No need to pay for words to say, for something so deep down and true.”

Duncan’s innocence and genuine appeal are completely contagious, and you might think she could care less about this dysfunctional business of music, but of course that’s not the case. Never underestimate a player such as Amanda Duncan. While it is true that she may be petite, Amanda is blessed with one giant set of pipes and a knack for writing lyrics so honest they cut right to the core of her audience’s listening lobes.It doesn’t hurt that she’s entertaining and funny as well.

So, as the story goes, after discovering her uncle’s guitar in high school, she began writing songs about silly things at first, but as her musical understanding grew, so did her desire to really connect with people. She realized that if she was feeling strongly enough to dignify a situation there must be others who could relate and benefit from hearing their own story. Amanda says, “There are so many songs out there that are reflective of negative issues of people’s lives.I want to connect with the positive.”

A self-taught musician, Amanda is one hell of a guitar player and most interestingly, a mandolin picker as well.For those listeners looking for something refreshing, Duncan delivers.I got the chance to catch Amanda at The Twisted Tree in Asbury Park on earlier this month and was entranced with her original style as she dropped tunes like “Straight Up,”by Paula Abdul, done smartly on the mandolin, and her own compositions, like the above mentioned gem, “Love I Have For You,”and “Words That I Say,” as well as several others.And I noticed that after Duncan performed her set, she stayed for the whole show as AMA nominees took their turn on the Twisted stage.

And while Duncan excels in the intimate setting, she is no stranger to the big stage, opening shows for Melissa Ferrick as well as Teddy Geiger and even Debbie Gibson.Her talents as a writer and musician show by the steady increase in popularity in the Jersey scene and the world beyond.She has also been nominated for the “Best Female Acoustic Performer” award this year (and may have won that honor by this press time) at the world famous Stone Pony on Nov.17.

Duncan has been Influenced by everyone from Bela Fleck And The Flecktones to New Jersey’s very own Joanna Burns.She infuses the pop country structure with a folkier sound reminiscent of Joni Mitchell meets Natalie Maines and makes it all her own.

While currently unsigned, Amanda concentrates on building her sound and maintaining a nice web presence as well as collaborating with artists in and around her native New Jersey, something that seems to be catching on quite a bit lately.And with Amanda involved, it can only be good news for us music fans.Go see what she’s up to online at amandaduncan.com



- John Pfeiffer - The Aquarian


Lucent in her aura of breezy candor, Amanda Duncan is that rare sort of person who seems like she could conquer the world -- completely by accident.

"I guess I just try to write good songs that make people feel good; that's really my main goal. I'm not trying to change people's lives in any major way,'' says Duncan, of Hazlet. "I just want them to feel like dancing or just kind of smile, maybe put my CD on in the car and just jam out.''

On Saturday, Duncan will celebrate the release of her new EP with a show at the Hazlet Firehouse hosted by 16-year-old talk-radio extraordinaire Zach Sang (of Internet radio station WZAP) and opened by the touring high school music program Rock 'n' Roll Chorus.

"The firetrucks are going to be all cleared out; a stage is going to be set up,'' she said. "We're having local businesses cater some of the food, and we're trying to get a raffle going of some sort. Basically, we're throwing a huge party, and everyone is invited.''

The decision to throw an all-ages release party in such an unconventional setting is an accommodation to Duncan's younger fans and her own larger-than-life aspirations.

"I'm a very grass-roots type of person; I've found that approach works best for me,'' Duncan said. "But I also have big ideas. I can't help it; it's just how I work. And I wanted to find a place that was big enough but also community-oriented. I've done a lot of volunteering throughout my life -- that's always meant a lot to me -- so it was important that this show was held in my hometown.''

Of course, the show might have never got off the ground had it not been for the support of Duncan's unwavering longtime fanbase.

"It's so funny, my parents are so, so excited, they've really got involved in helping me with this,'' she said. "I guess a lot of musicians wouldn't let that happen, but for me, my parents are so proud, and it's an honor. Everywhere they go, they keep talking about it. It's amazing what good promoters they are. I made up a flier, and my mom went and sent out 400 invitations to family and friends. In a sense, it's kind of like my wedding.''

Performing with Duncan will be fellow Hazlet musicians Joanna Burns (who produced Duncan's EP), Dave O'Brien, Charlie Pranio and Mike Basmagy.

"It's so weird because when I was in high school, there really wasn't a whole lot of music making going on. Some of us were musicians, but we were considered the weirdos,'' Duncan said. "Now, there's so much music coming out of this area -- me, my band, Joanna Burns, Phil Bensen (who sings backup vocals on Duncan's EP) -- there are a lot of people coming out of Hazlet that are really doing some cool things.''

Duncan thrives on the art of collaboration, its constant challenge and long-term rewards.

"I feel that working with other musicians, as opposed to just writing songs in a vacuum, really helps turn you into a better musician,'' she said. "A lot of times I co-write with Joanna (Burns), and she'll say, "Well, I think you could change this,' or "I really like that, but if you did this, it could really make things pop.' It's important to have people whose opinions you trust, people who will help you improve what you're doing and not just tell you what you want to hear.''

Duncan, whose goals include establishing a foothold on the college-campus circuit, says although she's been performing and composing since she was a child, her career is only now at its daybreak.

"This show, this album, it's a really big deal to me. I've been writing songs for a long time, and finally I have something legit as far as recordings go,'' she said. "It's funny, everything is finally coming together, and, well, I'm just really excited. I've been playing and recording all this stuff for so long, I just kind of feel like, once this is over, my life can begin. Once I have these CDs in my hand, my life can begin. It's been a long process, and I can't wait.'' - Asbury Park Press by Stephen Bove


Discography

Everybody Comes Around Here (Single)
Amanda Duncan's Holiday Classics EP
Love I Have for You EP

Photos

Bio

When you find yourself drowning in a sea full of dime-a-dozen singer-songwriters Amanda Duncan will be the one to throw you a lifejacket, pull you onto the rescue boat and bring you to an island where only happiness exists. Amanda's dedication to writing unique refreshing songs has won her various songwriting awards as well as audience's hearts. She has shared the stage with acts such as Eric Hutchinson, Zee Avi, Ari Hest, Secondhand Serenade, Melissa Ferrick, Lindsey Stirling and most recently Dierks Bentley.

She is a soldier in the new army of musicians who rely only on themselves to make things happen whether it be branding her name with graphic art or even engineering her own records. She draws from a diverse blend of the crooning hits of the 30's and 40's and the pop-country of today, to craft what has become her light-hearted, head-bopping acoustic sound. After touring the past 2 years at over one hundred colleges Amanda has buckled down to record her first full length album.

As a spectator, you'll probably be impressed by her hummable melodies and powerful vocals but what she'd rather is that you find a little bit of yourself in her lyrics and leave a little happier than when you came in.

Accomplishments:
Winner of The 2013 Philadelphia Songwriters Project Songwriters Contest
Nominee for the 2012 Independent Music Award for Best Holiday Song "Light Those Candles Bright"
Winner of the 2011 Independent Music Award for Best Holiday Song "Mistletoe" featuring Chris Ayer.
Winner of the 2010 Campus Activities Magazine Award for Best Female Performer
Winner of the 2010 Independent Music Awards Best Acoustic Song for "Love I Have for You"
Nominee for the 2010 Independent Music Awards Best Holiday Song for "The Cookie Song"
Winner of the 2009 & 2010 Asbury Park Music Award for Best Female Acoustic Act
Nominee for the 2009 Independent Music Awards - Best Love Song Category for "Fall into You"
Top 10 Finalist for the Lilith Fair: Philadelphia
Grand Prize Winner of the OurStage.com song contest for February 2010

Band Members