Lucciana Costa
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Lucciana Costa

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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""Ann Arbor's Lucciana Costa gets a showcase at The Ark""

Ann Arbor singer / songwriter / pianist Lucciana Costa really likes the title of her brand-new debut CD, “Last Chance for a Pony.”

?“I love the irony of it,” says the 20-year-old Costa, whose Friday show at The Ark with her band will also be a “party” to celebrate the release of the disc.

“All my life, I just wanted to play music,” says Costa, who began playing piano at age 7 - but then discovered the dobro at age 12 and played in roots-rock groups as a teenager before returning to the piano full-time at age 17.

?“I remember as a child, watching the CMA awards on TV, and just wanting so bad to be out there on stage performing,” says Costa. “And you know how every little girl wants a pony? Well, my family and I decided that this was my chance to really try and do this - that I was now at a point where I really could try and start a career.

?“So I like the irony that this is my ‘last chance’ at that pony.”

?The irony, of course, is that since she is only 20, this is hardly Costa’s “last chance” to launch a career in music - it is, instead, her first foray into performing around town on a regular basis. So it’s really more of a “coming-out” party.?

After graduating from high school at 17, Costa spent two years attending a university-prep liberal arts college in London, Ontario - and just returned to Ann Arbor in May. “And for the last year or so, I’ve mostly been in the songwriting mode, so I haven’t really been doing live shows.”?

Costa would appear to have had a leg up when it came to developing her proficiency on the piano: Her grandfather was Eddie Costa, a stalwart of the New York City jazz scene in the ’50s who “made a ton of recordings with various jazz ensembles from that scene,” and who also cut four solo discs. Sadly, her grandfather died in 1962 at the too-young age of 32.? “But my dad played those recordings a lot when I was growing up, so his music was definitely in my ears, from a very early age.”?

After playing Dobro in the alt-country band Smithville and the folk-rock-blues band Uses for Wood, Costa was lured back to the piano, she says, by the music of Ben Folds. “I heard his ‘Rocking the Suburbs’ record, and saw one of his shows, and it was one of the most incredible shows I’d ever seen. And that’s when I began to realize that’s what I wanted to do - make piano-pop music, but also drawing on the jazz of my grandfather, and boogie-woogie. That was the catalyst to my wanting to write songs.”

?The quirky rhythms of some of Costa’s songs will likely prompt comparisons to Regina Spektor, or, to a lesser degree, Tori Amos. But some tunes are more pensive and delicate.

?“Regina is a definitely a big influence,” shares Costa. ?“But I just listen to so many piano players, and, really, so many other artists, that music is always running through my head. ?

“I usually feel like it’s just running under everything, under every part of me, and when I come up with a song, I actually don’t feel like I ‘wrote’ it - I feel more like I just get hit with one line of an inspiration, and then the music just comes to me.” - Ann Arbor Spotlight

""Costa Launches Promising Career""

Lucciana Costa walked out onto the stage Friday night at The Ark beaming, excited and thrilled to be there. A few hours later, when she walked off the stage and the house lights came up, the crowd was beaming, excited and thrilled to be there.

Costa fulfilled a few dreams Friday night as more than 200 people attended a CD release party that, by all indications, was the "on your mark" of a career ready to "get set" and "go, go, go."

Backed by a talented group of musicians that featured some of the best studio players in Ann Arbor, the 20-year-old Pioneer High School graduate entertained the crowd for almost two hours with material from her new CD, "Last Chance for a Pony." She also threw in a brand-new song and a few covers that fit in perfectly with her "smart pop" material.

"It felt amazing, truly," said Costa, who will now turn her attention to putting together a band and touring to promote her CD. "I was a wreck for three days, including the day of the show. I was incredibly excited and incredibly nervous and basically a huge ball of inconsolable energy."

That's nothing new. But this show was certainly something new.

"I am always nervous before a big show, but because The Ark is such an incredible venue and such a staple for me personally. I couldn't even quite wrap my head around the fact that I was going to be playing there shortly."

The Ark is practically a second-home to Costa, and playing there was like inviting everyone over to her living room for an evening of music, laughter and good times.

"The Ark is literally a pivotal fixture of my childhood," she said. "I had fallen in love with the Rankin Family when I was a kid, and my family drove from Columbus, Ohio, to go see them perform at The Ark because it was the tour stop closest to us.

"After spending time in Ann Arbor that night, my parents seriously started to consider moving here, which we did when I was nine. My first night in Ann Arbor I spent at The Ark watching and meeting my favorite band.

"To headline a show at The Ark is something I have dreamed about, literally and figuratively, since I was 9 years old. I never imagined it would happen so soon."

Well-known studio musicians joining Costa on stage featured Chuck Mauk on drums, Pat Prouty on bass, Colin Murphy on violin/guitar and Gregg Leonard on guitar. These veterans helped create the sound Costa was looking for, both on the CD and Friday night on stage.

It was a mutual love affair.

"I was so lucky and happy to have those guys up there with me," Costa said. "They just killed it. They were incredible. The other guys had played the Ark before, so I figured they were cool as cucumbers. But, as I found out later, we were all pretty hyped up for this show."

Leonard, who also produced the CD, is a veteran of both stage and studio. He's played with some very talented people on his musical journey. But Friday night was one stop along the way he won't soon forget.

"It was really a great night," he said following the show. "It's always special to play with great musicians. And I just love these songs."

But it was more than just the music for Leonard.

"What's truly special about Lucciana is that she's genuine," he said. "She's real and people respond to that. And when we are on stage, we feed off that affection the crowd has for her."

Leonard has known Costa since she was 10 years old and came into his Big Sky Recording studio in Ann Arbor to record Christmas carols. He said it was obvious then that she had a lot of talent.

"I just thought these were really, really good songs and we dove into this project and worked hard for three months," he said. "I wanted this collection of songs to reflect her as an artist and as a young woman."

As the producer, Leonard wanted the music to be a mirror of Costa's personality. No gimmicks. No tricks. Put her out there and let her pure talent and honesty take center stage.

"I wanted to capture her voice and her song-writing and say,'This is who I am right now at this stage in my life,'" he said. "And I think we did that."

And they certainly did that Friday night.

Following the show, there were plenty of smiles, thank-you embraces and praise. Costa happily signed CDs and talked with family, friends and new fans, who all congratulated her on a wonderful performance.

During her final number, Costa sings, "Goodnight, goodnight, I'll see you soon." And after that performance, it's a good bet she will be seeing a lot more people real soon.

Terry Jacoby can be reached at 877-995-NEWS (6397) or - Ann Arbor Journal

""Costa, bold, beautiful, at The Ark""

Bold and beautiful.

The "beautiful" part is subjective -- in the eye of the beholder, as they say.

But there is no denying the "bold" part when it comes to Lucciana Costa's performance Friday night at The Ark in Ann Arbor. The 20-year-old Pioneer High School graduate was celebrating the release of her first CD, "Last Chance for a Pony."

And it was anything but a last chance Friday night. It was a beginning. A magnificent beginning to what looks like a promising future for a spirited, talented and passionate young woman eager to chase down her dreams with everything she has.

Costa showed the more than 200 people in the crowd that one of the things she has is boldness. She is not afraid of anything when it comes to her music. So when she walked out onto that stage, she showed from the first note that for the next few hours this stage was hers and we were all going along for the ride.

"She blows you away," said Sheralyn Ganz, who works at Ann Arbor's 107.1. "Somebody who works at the station suggested I go check her out after hearing her CD. I'm really impressed. She puts herself out there."

And the crowd responded, not only to the music, but the performer, as well. In a tough business in a tough town on a tough stage, this 20-year-old musician knocked out one song after another with the confidence of someone twice her age. She wanted everyone to hear the thoughtfulness of her lyrics, the power of her piano playing and the creativity and inspiration of her music.

She was also smart enough to surround herself with a stage full of talented Ann Arbor studio musicians who also got caught up in the momentum created by this special performer. They weren't just playing notes, they were making music and music that mattered and meant something. They played with focus and freedom, and brought just the right mix of playing to Costa's sweet voice and simple, but emotional, lyrics.

One of the evening's many highlights was the song "Devil's Currency." On the CD, the opening track includes a dominant horn section that takes the song in a surprising direction and helps create an almost circus-like sound that really plays off well with the vocals and lyrics. Unfortunately, there were no horn players on the stage, so how she was going to pull this off was anyone's guess.

As she sang the opening lyric (the best lyric on the CD, by the way), "you made a deal with the devil but you had no soul, so you traded him favors," a wonderful sound began to build from the side of the stage. Right on cue, the horn section came walking out to a rather surprised and thrilled crowd.

While that song featured more musicians, another highlight was a song that wiped the stage clean except for Costa. She opened the second set with "Way Too Late," a brand-new song that doesn't even appear on the CD, and "put herself out there" all by herself, playing the song solo on piano. In fact, it would have been a nice touch to play a few songs solo and really let that voice just bounce off the walls.

At one point in between songs, it got a little silly as perhaps the significance of this moment had caught up with Costa. But that wasn't it at all. It was a 20-year-old having fun like a 20-year-old has fun. Listening to her music and watching her poise on stage, it's easy to forget she's only 20.

But what she was able to do under the bright lights of high expectations and big dreams was nothing short of magical. In a musical world dominated by corporate hacks shoving teenagers and twenty-somethings dressed up as pop stars down our throats, it's refreshing to hear one who actually has talent, vision, poise and a purpose.

"I know I keep thanking you for coming, but it means so much to me that you're here," she told the crowd in between songs.

After the show, she admitted she was afraid that no one would come. She won't have to worry about that anymore.

She also told the crowd that playing The Ark has always been a dream of hers. To reach your dream at 20 means that the bar needs to be reset. And after seeing her on Friday night, it's clear she can set the bar as high as she wants.
- Ann Arbor Journal


Advanced Cuts EP (2008)
Last Chance for a Pony (2009)

Several tracks off of "Last Chance" have had airplay on Clearchannel station Ann Arbor's 107.1, including "Devil's Currency", "One Known Casualty", and "Pictures On the Walls."

"Hallmark" and "Devil's" are in regular rotation at several university stations, including WDET (Detroit) and 94.9 CHRW (London, Ontario)



Lucciana Costa's first gig was singing with the Columbus Children's Choir. Not yet six years old, she already displayed a powerful stage presence and desire to perform. Her mom did her part by fudging the rules so Lucciana could beat the choir's minimum age requirement, and Lucciana did hers by earning the privilege of singing a solo in the choir's spring concert. Thus began years of childhood musical experiences.
Lucciana is the granddaughter of a jazz great who lived, breathed, and worked the New York City music scene. However, as a child Lucciana developed an affinity for country music. She fell in love with an instrument she'd never heard of until she saw Emily Robison, of Dixie Chicks fame, play one; so Lucciana tracked down the only Dobro for sale in town and bought it with her childhood savings. As a Dobro player, music became a permanent fixture in her life. She played in an alternative country group, Smithville, at age 12 with musicians many times her age. Learning the ropes as a performing musician and having parents cool enough to abandon all ideas of a normal curfew, she built the foundation to become the musician she is today. Lucciana later joined forces with Uses for Wood, a folk/rock/blues band.
Freshly embarking into her twenties, Lucciana has an incredible amount of diverse musical experiences. Her life and music have become so intertwined that, when asked what kind of songs she writes, she honestly answers,"I don't know."
Having genetically inherited a love for banging on the piano, Lucciana has finally found her true style writing piano-rock songs with a twist.
Hers are the songs from a four-year-old girl who got up at the crack of dawn to write stories of the stuff she thought about. They are songs from the genes of a jazz musician; they're the heartbreaking words of an old country song and the energy of playing The Who's "Baba O'Riley" with Uses for Wood to an electric crowd. They are the songs of a girl who has settled into her own style. Musically and lyrically her songs are glimpses into who Lucciana Costa is, which could be why so many are drawn to her music. The thrill of putting life to music is why she is an artist, and why she is the kind of artist who quickly becomes one you can't get enough of.