Holly Spears
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Holly Spears

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
By: Natalie Hastings Sept. ‘09


Holly Spears Debuts New Album Oct. 2 at 20th Century Theater
Redemption Road explores self-restoration from a life without direction

CINCINNATI (Sept. 16, 2009)—Holly Spears, a soulful singer/songwriter from West Virginia who made her recording home in Cincinnati after touring with Blessid Union of Souls and opening for the Gin Blossoms and the Spin Doctors, will debut her new album Redemption Road at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Midpoint favorite Artists & Authors will also perform.

Redemption Road is Spears’ third album, which she self-produced. Her first two were produced by Eliot Sloan of Blessid Union of Souls, and a single she wrote has been featured on Making of the Video segments on MTV, VH1 and MTV2, among other outlets.

“In a world of over-produced, self-indulgent pop rock, Holly’s simple, to-the-point sound is a breath of fresh air,” said local musician Josh Seurkamp. “Her songs have the ability to grab you by the face and make you pay attention, her lyrics are compelling and honest, and her story is amazing.”

The songs from Redemption Road explore Spears’ life journey from the joy of her discovery by Blessid Union frontman Sloan while still in high school to the loneliness of a full-time musician’s lifestyle, with little direction or self-worth, to a sense of peace and fulfillment through a relationship with God. Along the way, her songs explore joy and suffering through seeing intense poverty in Africa, meeting girls in India who are victims of sex slavery and Spears’ own walk back through childhood to redeem her past. Through it all, there is hope, for both Spears and those she encounters in suffering.

Spears wrote all of the songs on Redemption Road and plays both piano and acoustic guitar. The album also features Ric Hordinski on keyboards, electric guitar and bass, and Josh Seurkamp on drums.

The release show takes place at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. For more information about Spears and to hear samples of her music, visit myspace.com/hollyspears or hollyspears.com To order tickets for the show, go to www.brownpapertickets/event/78478. View her electronic press kit at http://www.sonicbids.com/epk/epk.asp?epk_id=187064.

- Natalie Hastings


Chic Spotlight: Holly Spears
Tenacity, intelligence and talent. Holly Spears – a local singer/songwriter – has it all. But life hasn’t always been so cushy. Learn how she fought, risked and dreamed her way out of the sticks of West Virginia to tour nationwide and record with rockstars like the Blessid Union of Souls.

Cincy Chic: When did you first get into music?
Spears: My first musical experience was on the piano. My dad used to show me little things on my great grandmother's piano when we visited her.I always looked forward to going to her house because she had apiano and she was really funny. I started taking lessons around first grade and then my parents bought me a piano after they realized I was pretty good at it.

It was the best birthday. A truck pulled up to our house with a selection of pianos and I got to pick which one I wanted. I out-learned my teacher and stopped taking lessons, until we found another teacher who helped teach me modern sheet music that I liked from the radio.

Cincy Chic: When did you start singing?
Spears: I first started singing in church and the school choir. Other than that, I was really shy. I always felt a special connection with the choir teachers at school. One teacher really got to know me and volunteered me for a lead part. After the feeling I got when I sang by myself in front of an audience, I had no problem trying out for leads and hungered for the parts. Later, during my 6th grade year, I played for the high school band.

When I got to the 8th grade, I was given a lead roll in a high school's play. I continued to sing at school in every musical aspect. Then, I started singing at local fairs and festivals with music tracks behind me.

My first demo was recorded with those same tracks using equipment at the church we were attending at the time. My grandfather was there with me, as he and my grandmother were the first to buy me the tapes to sing along with.

Cincy Chic: As a talented singer and pianist, when did you become interested in playing the guitar?
Spears: I picked up a guitar when I was 15 after watching a documentary on Melissa Etheridge on the Lifetime Channel (we did not have MTV or VH1). She inspired me to want to sing and play the guitar and write my own songs. My mother bought me my first guitar out of the classifieds for about $25. It was a classical acoustic guitar.

After she realized I really wanted to learn, was learning quickly and teaching myself how to play, she ordered me a $300 acoustic guitar from Fingerhut Magazine. I still have it today; I named it “Harmony.”

Cincy Chic: Where do you get the inspiration for the songs you write?
Spears: When I first got my guitar, I began writing songs about things I went through, such as love. I still write about love or love lost. Hopefully, I’ll have a different experience soon, but maybe it is my fate to write songs that help people in their relationships. Who knows, right? This led me to play the guitar and sing at the Fair instead of using the music tracks. One of the neighborhood boys got tragically and mysteriously killed. I wrote a song about him and was requested to play it in ceremonies surrounding his death.

Cincy Chic: When did you first decide to join a band instead of just writing songs by yourself?
Spears: After the funeral of my neighborhood friend, I met a few guys from a local band who were friends with him, as well. Through our conversation, we found out that we were all playing at the same fair. They asked if I would like to try out and play a few shows with them, including the fair. I did, and we clicked instantly.

They became my second family. After the shows they had promised me, they decided to keep me on full-time. This was until another band saw me at a larger performance and stole me from them. It was the hardest decision I had to make up until that point in my life, because they had become a huge part of me life. I went with the new band and starting playing more and making more money.

Cincy Chic: Besides playing at festivals and fairs, what other musical endeavors did you take part in?
Spears: One day, during my junior year of high school, as I always listened to the radio while getting ready for school, I heard the morning DJ announce a jingle contest. I immediately ran upstairs to my karaoke machine and started recording an idea I had, including the harmonies and guitar music. My dad yelled that we were going to be late for school. I packaged up the cassette and had my dad mail it out that morning.

After the long stretch of the contest, and having people call in to vote for my selection, which they called "The Harmony Jingle," I won. This led me to go to the studio and re-record the jingle on a more professional level and landed me a spot on their morning show, so they could introduce it. One of the jocks at the studio was familiar with my music teacher and found out how much music consumed my life. He offered me an internship.

This - cincychic.com


I Believe: Blessed Union of Soulrs Launches Unit for Awareness Week
By Elizabeth Dugan
March 2006
Delirium Journal
At 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, 2005, the field house of King Horn vibrated with the sounds of screaming fans and pounding music. The Student Planning Committee (SPC) held a free concert for students featuring opening acts Holly Spears and 2 Skinny Dorks and the main attraction, Blessed Union of Souls. While the turn out for the concert was probably less than expected, it was enough to add noise to the loud rock music. Most of the audience stood for the concert, which consisted of an hour of opening acts, two 15 minute breaks, and the main performance by Blessed Union. Seating was available in the back, where parents, older students, and faculty sat.

Holly Spears opened up the night with a half hour show. A native of West Virginia, the singer was discovered by Blessed Union of Souls’ lead singer, Eliot Sloan. During her performance, she sang two cover songs, including “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees. The guitar playing diva sang three other songs from her CD, which is currently in production: “Girl on a Mission,” her theme song; “The Only One,” and “Hey,” during which she encouraged audience participation. After her performance, Holly sat at a table in back signing demo CDs, which were sold for $12. More information on Holly can be found at www.hollyspears.com.

After a fifteen minute break the opening act continued with the band 2 Skinny Dorks, a group of five performers. They have opened for and performed with groups such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, O.A.R., The Roots, Dave Matthews Band and, of course, Blessed Union of Souls. Only three band members, Jake Blazer, Matt Corey, and Eric Penrod, appeared at ONU. The only two not to appear were Big Bass, who plays bass guitar and sings, and Elijah Gilmore, the band’s drummer. These three men, at least one originating from Cleveland, Ohio, came out singing and rocked the field house with their songs “Hey Love,” “Just Believe,” and “Home.” After singing some of their own work, they performed a cover song before mixing it up with a song that is presently in production. Overall, 2 Skinny Dorks received a larger reaction from the audience than Holly Spears and used more instruments than just a guitar, such as a saxophone played by Matt. The highlight had to be the solo spots for each of the artists, where several times Matt rocked out on his saxophone, while other times the spotlight was turned over to Eric for some electrifying guitar playing. Jake took the floor for his own a capella performance of one of their songs, which got the crowd jumping with energy. For more information, visit their website at www.2sd.com.

A second break preceded the main concert. As Blessed Union of Souls mounted the stage, the field house exploded in a sea of screaming fans, flashes of light from cameras, and waving hands. The band opened with fast paced, up tempo music as the crowd continued to squish together trying to get closer to the band. The music blasted from speakers with a deafening roar. The noise only gained volume when the band began to perform “I Wanna Be There.”

Blessed Union continued on with new songs from their new CD, due out in May, including “Bittersweet Sublime” and “I Still Believe in Love.” When the band began to perform “Mama,” the screaming hit a crescendo, and lighters, cell phones, and anything else that glowed, began to appear as people swayed. As the performance continued, the screaming and cheering continued as couples and groups of people began to dance. Halfway through the concert all but Sloan left the sage. Singing, and playing piano as backup, he performed “I Believe.” Before he began, he said that he felt the song was a good symbol of “what you guys are doing here,” referring to the concert and the many activities held during Unite for Awareness Week. Sloan even received a t-shirt from one of the audience members for Unite for Awareness. Many students and other audience members sang along to the solo voice.

The reminder of the concert was fast paced and pulsated with electric guitars, drums, and other rock instruments. The band didn’t end with a single song, but rather a medley of songs. No sooner had the group left the stage than the audience cheered for an encore. Blessed Union closed their show with two songs, both unnamed, and wished the audience a pleasant night.

After the show Holly Spears, 2 Skinny Dorks, and two of the members from Blessed Union sat out at the table selling CDs and autographing shirts, hats, and other such items for fans. Despite the almost insanely loud volume, the lack of seating, and the heat, the concert was a success. Three great acts and three hours of music made for a great study break for the students of Ohio Northern.

In honor of Unite for Awareness Week, here are the lyrics to “I Believe” by Blessed Union of Souls:

Walk blindly to the light and reach out for his hand
Don´t - Delirium Journal


Spears poetic, introspective

Thursday, February 09, 2006
Fairfield Echo

Holly Spears is a singer/songwriter/musician from the small town of Wana, W.Va. She has carried her talents from the dues-paying days of playing in local bands to touring with international recording act Blessid Union of Souls.

Spears has recently had her music featured in MTV's and MTV 2's Making The Video, and in to addition writing with Blessid's lead singer Eliot Sloan, she has inked a publishing deal with Chanthony Music.

With more than 400 shows under her belt and only a guitar on her back, Spears has captivated the ears and hearts of everyone who has heard her introspective and poetic lyrics.

Sloan said of her, "Holly Spears delivers each lyric as if it were her last. She gives herself totally to the music and one can't help but to feel the emotion of every story she tells."

Spears will perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Rohs Street Cafe, 245 W. McMillan St., Cincinnati. For more information, visit www.hollyspears.com. - Fairfield Echo


Cincinnati CityBeat
September 21, 2005
Harry's Upstairs
9:40 p.m.
Holly Spears

(Wana, W.V.) Acoustic Pop

Returning to MPMF after a successful showcase last year, Holly Spears plays honest, soul-baring Acoustic Pop that recalls the glory days of the Lilith Fair. With a publishing, management and independent record deal already in place, she's poised to take her career to the next level.

Dig it: matchbox 20, 10,000 Maniacs, The Cranberri - Cincinnati City Beat


Holly Spears taking next step on stage
May 5, 2005
Dominion Post - Morgantown, WV
Michelle Wolford

Holly Spears quit her day job. The 23-year-old singer/songwriter will leave Morgantown after a busy weekend to pursue full-time music career.
And she's working on a new record, with a little help from some friends in Cincinnati, the city that will be her new home.
"I'll be working with Eliot Sloan of Blessid Union of Souls," Spears said.
"They're based out of Cincinnati and part of their management team is managing me.
"They're trying to attach me to anything BUS does - their guitar player and drummer are going to play on my album."
Spears has already logged some time in the Ohio city. She lived their from 2000 - 2003.
But this is a big move for the Wana native.
"I'm nervous but excited because I hope it'll push me to do more to get what I want because I won't have a real paying job to fall back on."
"Maybe I'm more excited than she is," Sloan said.
"I met Holly in 1999 when she was still in high school," the Blessid Union of Souls frontman said.
"She gave me a tape and I was impressed from Day One.
"I knew it needed some help, but I could tell she fully had the talent and the desire to go somewhere.
"Long-term I want her to be able to put out an album a year and tour. I don't look at her as a one-or two-CD person. Her songs are timeless and the words and music are going to be what carries her."
Local fans have a few more opportunities to see and hear Spears before she heads to the Buckeye State. She appears on the Brian Mo "Top 8 at 8" tonight on radio station WVAQ.
From 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. Friday, she'll take the stage at Gibbie's Pub on High Street.
And from 9 p.m. -midnight Saturday, the Rat Pack Lounge at the Radisson Hotel will host Spears' last performance as a Morgantown resident.
But if you miss her there, you can always catch a show in Ohio -- or Alaska.
"I'll be playing four to five nights a week in and around Cincinnati," Spears said.
"And there's talk about sending me to Alaska for six weeks to play five nights a week."
Spears said the decision to follow her dream came at a Morgantown performance.
"I was signing at an open mic night at Chic N Bones," she said.
"After the show, someone came up to me and said, 'Why aren't you still in West Virginia?' I wondered, 'Yeah, why am I?'"
It switched a light on, she said.
So now it's off to Ohio where she hopes to get back recording with Sloan.
"We've been recording together and by end of next year, we'll have something done," Sloan said.
"We started scratch vocals and guitar," Spears said, "but we've been touring so much, there's no time. We might be starting between June 15 and July."
Spears write her own songs and plays guitar. She said she taught herself guitar and has been playing for about six years.
And the songs?
"The songs come from my experience," she said. "Anything I go through, I write about it. I try to find a quirky way to get it out and make it rhyme."
And where look for Spears' music when it hits local record stores?
"Wherever Sheryl Crow and Jewel would be," she said.
The two singers that have been a big influence on the young performer.
"Melissa Etheridge Natalie Merchant, too."
"She can just write forever," Sloan said. "I can see her 15 years from now still writing and touring.
"She's just a special talent," he said.
"Every time she sits down and sings and plays that acoustic guitar, you remember that there's really something special.
Info: www.hollyspears.com - Dominion Post


From an interview Eliot did with Wisconsin-Music.com
By Brett Christensen
April 20, 2005

WM: Besides Blessid, you’re also producing. I read that you’re currently producing for artist Holly Spears. Is that something you’ve been wanting to do for a while?

ES: Um, somewhat. In a sense that I hear things in the studio. I don’t want to get lost in ‘I’m a producer’ or ‘I’m a songwriter’. You know what I do? I make up songs and I hear things in songs that would sound good, and the title to those just happen to be songwriter and producer. So my passion is to basically be in the studio and make songs sound better. So, whatever you want to call that.

But Holly is a girl I’ve been working with for 5 years now. She has a great talent, a great voice, and she can write songs… they just flow out of her. That’s the first thing I noticed about her. She has this knack for writing really good songs and good melodies. There’s a couple times that I tried to co-write with her, but she has it on her own right now. She’s just letting her feelings express themselves, so I just kind of let her go. But Matt and I will be in the studio producing her album in the new few months.

To read more of this article with Eliot Sloan click here. - Wisconsin-Music.com


Musicians make their rounds to promote concert
The Advertiser - Tribune, Tiffin, OH
March 5, 2005
By MaryAnn Kromer, mkromer@advertiser-tribune.com

Tiffin University students were treated to a meeting with Tony Clark and Elliot Sloan of Blessid Union of Souls (BUOS), and recording artist Holly Spears. The trio stopped at Franks Hall on the TU campus Thursday to speak with students, sing a few selections and listen to some numbers from the TU vocal group Up In the Air.

Students asked about the pros and cons of working with recording companies, how to improve one's performance, the hardest audience to play for, finding inspiration for songs and crafting a number-one hit. The artists also shared experiences from their tours and recording sessions.

A disadvantage of signing a recording contract is the company's efforts to change the image of the band or even the music itself. Sloan said it is difficult to allow changes in one's own artistic product. Clark advised performers to keep practicing and performing together.

"The more shows you have, the better you get," Clark said.

"It brings you closer together as people and as a band," Sloan added.

"And don't be afraid to network with other people," Clark said. "Don't ever burn any bridges."

Spears said the hardest audience for her was a bachelor party. She tends to do songs with a feminist slant, so she had to improvise and be selective for the guys.

"You have to go in knowing the audience you're going to play for," Spears said.

For Sloan, a "sea of people" is an easier audience than a small, intimate crowd, although the band is becoming more flexible with experience. Clark recalled the day in 1995 when a small audience was a let-down for the band.

"'I Believe' had just gone to number one. Then we got to the show that night and there's only 20 people there," Clark said.

Sloan said BUOS worked on "I Believe" in 1993 and '94. They made a demo and sent it to radio stations with a request to give it air time. One Cincinnati radio station was especially helpful in promoting the song. In response to a question about his own musical background, Sloan said he took piano lessons from age 6-14.

"It took me that long to realize I couldn't read music... I play better by ear," Sloan said. "I don't like to go into the studio unless I've been on the road, because that's where a lot of ideas come from."

The singer pulled up a nearby piano and microphone and performed "I Believe" for the Franks Hall audience. Spears then sang her original tune, "Girl on a Mission," and accompanied herself on acoustic guitar. Her sound is a blend of folk, blues and country.

Sloan said he met Spears about six years ago in a show in Morgantown, W.Va. Spears and another artist, Justin Branam, will be special guests at the Blessid Union of Souls concert tonight at the Ritz. All Tiffin University and Heidelberg students will be admitted for $5.

Spears, Clark and Sloan were expected to have similar gatherings Thursday at Terra Community College, Heidelberg and some local clubs to promote the Friday night concert and BUOS' new CD, "Perception."

- The Advertiser-Tribune, Tiffin, OH


Band has knack for hit tunes
toledoblade.com - Toledo, OH
March 4, 2005
It's been four years since Blessid Union of Souls released a new disc, but the Cincinnati-based band has a new one in the works and a tour that will bring them to Tiffin's Ritz Theatre tonight.

While it hasn't been released yet, the band has finished a 16-song disc called "Perception" that features a pair of new members, Bryan Billhimer and Shaun Schaefer, and if it's like their previous four discs, it will be on the radio a lot.

The band rose out of the alternative rock movement of the early '90s, releasing their platinum-selling debut disc "Home" in 1995, which featured their number one hit, "I Believe."

Taking advantage of a winning knack for strong melodies, a series of hits came off their next three discs, including 1999's "Walking Off the Buzz."

That disc contained "Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me,)" a wide-eyed power pop hit about a girl so devoted to her guy that she favors him over Leonardo DiCaprio.

Other Blessid Union of Souls hits include "Let Me Be The One," "I Wanna Be There," and "Light In Your Eyes."

Tickets for tonight's show at the 20 South Washington Street theater range from $9 to $32 and are available at the door. The theater's phone number is 419-448-8544 and the Web site is www.ritztheatre.org.

Opening acts are Holly Spears and Justin Branam and performances start at 8 p.m. - toledoblade.com


March 3, 2005
In Blessid Union of Souls' new release, they mention Holly twice in the cover of the CD. Holly would like for all her fans to support Blessid as Blessid has been supporting her through out most of her musical career. Order a copy or two today...they're not in stores yet, so get a copy before everyone else does! Blessid Union of Souls - Perception - H.S.


Discography

"Redemption Road" Album
Produced and Written by Holly Spears

"The Songs of Christmas" EP
Engineered and Produced by: Mitch Dane
Sputnik Sound Nashville, TN
Comes out November 2011

"Heartache to Hope"
Engineered and Produced by: Mitch Dane
Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN
Comes out early 2012

Photos

Bio

Bare foot, blue eyed, soulful melodies…meet Holly Spears.

Holly has loved music since she was just a little girl growing up in the small town of Wana, West Virginia. She found her voice as a little girl, accompanying her father on Sunday mornings in church choir. As she grew up she began to take her musical talents outside of the church walls, performing in multiple school choirs, musicals, festivals and fairs. To continue feeding the fire Holly’s mother saw in her daughter, she purchased her daughther a piano and scheduled lessons with a local instructor. Holly loved the sound and the feel of the keys under her fingers. She soaked up what her instructor was teaching her but eventually found herself feeling caged in, trapped. She wanted to be free to move, free to dance, free to express the music. It was right about this time when she saw a Melissa Etheridge television special and immediately knew what she wanted, what she needed. After hours of begging her mother and a spotting in the classifieds by her mom, Holly got the first love of her life, her first guitar. Little did she know that that the seemingly insignificant purchase of her twenty five dollar garage sale special would set the stage for a whirlwind of new life experiences coming her way.

While teaching herself to play her new instrument, Holly began writing songs and learning about the world of music business. She joined two different rock bands and interned at a local radio station, honing her musical gifts while learning what it meant to make music for music lovers. During her radio station internship, Holly was introduced to Blessid Union of Souls lead singer, Eliot Sloan. He heard her sing and asked her to send him some of her music. Though she had a lifetime’s worth of music and lyrics written out, she had not yet recorded anything and had no money for recording equipment or studio time. She needed to find a way to create a demo, and she needed to find a way fast. With permission from the radio station, Holly used their equipment to put together a scratch demo for Sloan. He loved what he heard and began working with Holly to develop her unique sound. Balancing school and her passion for music, Holly would attend class on the weekdays and travel to Cincinnati on the weekends to write and record with Sloan and other talented writers and musicians.

After graduating from high school, Holly moved to Cincinnati, began touring with Blessid Union, and opening for bands like The Spin Doctors, Gin Blossoms, Roger McGuinn (the Byrds) and the like, while perusing a degree in Audio-Video Production at Southern Ohio College (now Brown Mackie). Despite no label and very little promotional help, Holly found her music being shared on multiple MTV, MTV2, and VH1 shows and multiple radio and local tv stations.

Taking the next step in her music career, Holly has since moved to Nashville, raised the capital to start her own record label (Girl on a Mission Music, LLC), just put out her Christmas EP (The Songs of Christmas) and is to release her next original full length album in early 2012 called "Heartache to Hope."