Vox Vidorra
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Vox Vidorra

Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
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"Vox Vidorra explores race, inequality, and religion through music"

The debut album by Grand Rapids indie rock and soul band Vox Vidorra explores race, inequality, love and religion.

Molly Bouwsma-Schultz is Vox Vidorra’s lead singer and lyricist.

She says some of the songs on the album were influenced by her upbringing on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. During that time, that part of the city was known for having a lot of crime, poverty and a large African American population. Bouwsma Schultz is biracial and was raised by her mother.

“I think some of our neighbors couldn’t really figure us out because during that time in the late 80's, early 90's it wasn’t as typical to see a biracial kid with a white mother," she says. “We got a hard time from a lot of people, a lot of questioning about identity.”

The song, "Downtown Southside," was inspired by that experience. You can check out a video of their in studio performance here, as part of Michigan Radio's Songs From Studio East:


Bouwsma Schultz says she still faces judgment as a black, female artist in Grand Rapids. She expresses this frustration in the song "Let Me Be," with lyrics such as, “You think I’m just colored and complacent, put me in a box because you don’t wanna face it.”

She says the lyrics of that song also delve into broader racial politics.

“I’m really talking about Trayvon Martin and lots of other African American who have been murdered,” Bousma Shultz says. “This idea that black men are just here to be taken out.”

The album also explores issues of love, relationships, as well as religion. Bousma Schultz says the West Michigan "Bible belt" influenced the song "I Saw Love," with lyrics such as, “I’m not afraid of your biblical rules/ I’m not afraid of you hypocritical fools/ I’m not afraid of your universal law/ I ain’t seen everything but I can tell you what I saw/ I saw love.”

Bousma Schultz says she doesn’t agree with the way religious leaders use the Bible to justify forms of oppression.

“We’ve seen it in our historical past as a nation,” she says. “Whether that be slavery to immigration to gay marriage.”

Vox Vidorra’s debut album, Promise Land, will be released April 25. That night, the band will perform at a CD release show at Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids.

In the meantime, check out another in-studio performance by the band here: - Michigan Radio, an NPR affiliate (michiganradio.org)


"Grand Rapids' Vox Vidorra will get you to put that cell phone down"

Just by watching Grand Rapids' indie band Vox Vidorra, you can tell there is a special connection shared by its four members that has translated into an upbeat show. The band guarantees to make you look up from your phone, be moved, sing and dance. You will have to listen for yourself to determine if "your soul will be saved."

"Vox Vidorra is sort of a culmination of four different people's musical experiences coming together," said vocalist Molly Bouwsma-Schultz who is joined by husband Scott Schultz, bass, guitar, keys and drums; Ryan Wilson, harmonies, keys, bass, drums and guitar; and Theo "Teddy" Ndawillie II, harmonies, keys, drums and bass. The foursome formed Vox Vidorra in 2014.

Within a year, the group was able to produce its first album, "Promise Land," which was released this past spring. "We started to hang out, just jamming and every week there would be two or three new songs finished just because they came together so easily," Ndawillie said.

"We write songs very much as a group," Schultz said. "Molly usually takes the lyrics but for us, we pick apart the structures and we decide the best instruments for each of us to play ... every song works toward our talents but it is very much an outpouring of what we can do collectively."

Wilson added that each member being able to write music expands what the group can do with the songs not only because the members are able to write from different instruments, but "also the communication is great because we can tell each other maybe an idea we have and actually say exactly what note or chord instead of hint around at what we might want."

"A lot of what we do is based off our chemistry as friends," Ndawillie said. "I think it really feeds into our music and how we perform and how we write."

"Promise Land" was recorded live in analog, which Wilson called "kind of nostalgic." "There are things that the digital world is great for but the experience of recording in an analog studio is a great experience to have." The album itself is about recording a particular time, and a particular performance, Ndawillie said, adding that recording live allows for very little editing.

The band has several performances lined up for August including Aug. 22 at The Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce Ave. SW; Aug 28 and 29, for the Porcupine Mountains Music Festival and in September, the Cadillac Craft Beer Festival, Sept. 26.

"Vox Vidorra means the sound of the life you are meant to live, and our music really exists to promote love and being aware of other people, and is just a positive message," Bouwsma-Schultz said. "And hopefully our music will move you in some way."

To follow the music of Vox Vidorra, visit voxvidorra.com. For the full interview or if you are a musician or band interested in participating in Amplified, visit benefits.mlive.com/amplified. - Mlive.com


"The ‘collaborative magic’ of Vox Vidorra: Local Spins Live at River City Studios (Video, podcast)"

The eyes of fans watching Vox Vidorra unfurl its singularly infectious mix of soul, rock and jazz inextricably are drawn to lead singer Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, a bundle of electrical charges who unceasingly stalks the stage – swaying, bending, stooping, kneeling and, inevitably, even writhing on the floor in an ever-passionate vocal display.

“Singing to me feels really good so I guess I’m just in my own world having a good time and I’m glad people enjoy it,” says Bouwsma-Schultz, who remembers “something came over my body” the very first time she sang in front of a big crowd in high school.
But in their own way, the other members of this fast-emerging Grand Rapids band – Scott Schultz, Theodore Ndawillie II and Ryan K. Wilson – are every bit as spellbinding with their knack for brilliant rhythms, melodic nuances and seamless instrument-swapping.

With influences as disparate as Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Charles, Radiohead, Earth Wind & Fire, Harry Nillson and Ella Fitzgerald, Vox Vidorra has quickly established itself as a buzz band and one of West Michigan’s brightest musical prospects. Its first full-length studio album, “Promise Land,” will be released on April 25 at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids.

MULTI-INSTRUMENTAL SONGWRITING, WIDE-RANGING INFLUENCES
“Scott and I put this band together,” Bouwsma-Schultz says of her husband, “because I really wanted an outlet for original songwriting and that’s something I hadn’t really found before. … To have that collaborative magic that we found is sort of unique I think.”

That collaborative magic, enhanced by each band member’s multi-instrumental talents, was dramatically displayed during Vox Vidorra’s recent appearance as part of the HopCat presents Local Spins Live at River City Studios series.

The third edition of the concert-and-interview podcast taped in front of an intimate, invited audience of guests – recorded by River City engineers Roy Wallace and Austin Ruhstorfer, and captured on video by a student team from Grand Valley State University – boasted the band’s trademark, organically soulful approach on five original songs while providing insights to Vox Vidorra’s collective creativity.

“We all bring our individual influences and our own individual tastes in songwriting and everything,” Scott Schultz suggests. “I’ve never been in a band before where songwriting is a collaborative process.”

Or, where each band member can sit down at a piano or drum kit, or strap on a bass, depending on the song, due to their experience in other ensembles. “It carves out our own unique sound from that,” says Ndawillie, who’s played in the bands Archery and The Brilliance, and who’s been commissioned as a composer by the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Wilson, meanwhile, is known for his work with hip hop’s Rick Chyme as well as boundary-pushing bands such as the Scott Pellegrom Trio and Southpaw Players.

Adds Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, formerly with the award-winning blues-soul band Blue Molly: “All of our influences make up the music that we’re doing. I don’t think any of us are really concerned with labels, so just making music we want to make is really our main goal.”

That music – in the form of 11 original tracks – was recorded at Grand Rapids’ all-analog Goon Lagoon studios, an experience the band insists brought out the best in their abilities and distinctive sound. Goon Lagoon producer and recording engineer Tommy Schichtel strongly asserts that the band has potential to be “one of the biggest things” musically to come out of Grand Rapids in many years.

That remains to be seen, but there’s no doubting the unique camaraderie that Vox Vidorra has spawned and the rare musical power it’s unleashed.

Says Ndawillie: “We found it with each other.” - localspins.com


Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Vox Vidorra is an indie/soul quartet from Grand Rapids, MI.

Lead by vocal phenom Molly Bouwsma Schultz, the band combines rich, Motown worthy vocals with an underbelly of indie rock, soul, and jazz provided by multi-instrumentalists Scott Schultz, Ryan K Wilson, and Theo Ndawillie II.

The songs are reminiscent of days-gone-by but are rooted in now, exploring inequality, race, and religion, all with a melodic sheen that allows access to the depth of the recordings. The instrumentation is deliberate and often times sparse, highlighting Bouwsma Schultz’s electric mezzo-soprano, but is also complex, utilizing Ndawillie’s composing skills to employ lush string arrangements, propelling the songs over a familiar backbone that hints at Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin.

Written in a collaborative process, each member is essential to the band’s songwriting. With influences like Harry Nilsson, Patrick Watson, Radiohead, and Ella Fitzgerald, the band isn’t held to one sound, but is held together by Bouwsma Schultz’s voice, three-part harmony, and a strong commitment to melody.

In playing almost 200 gigs in two years (and leaning on Wilson’s dozen plus years of experience in the local scene) the band has honed a stage show that will make anyone look up from their phone.

“[Bouwsma Schultz] unceasingly stalks the stage – swaying, bending, stooping, kneeling and, inevitably, even writhing on the floor in an ever-passionate vocal display. “ remarked West Michigan legend writer John Sinkevics.

The remaining members switch instruments seamlessly, suiting their talents to the song at hand, and provide a steady current for Bouwsma Schultz to swim in. The band’s restraint allows for a dynamic and engaging performance that can harness a crowded bar or command hushed attention from a theater. 

Established in early 2014, Vox Vidorra hasn’t been around long but is making waves in Michigan. Goon Lagoon Studio’s Tommy Schichtel (who co-produced/engineered the debut album “Promise Land”) asserts the band has the potential to be “one of the biggest things to come out of Grand Rapids in many years.”

With attention from NPR/Michigan Radio, Valslist.com and West Michigan’s Local Spins, more and more seem to be coming to the same conclusion. 

“…Collaborative and masterful song crafting… Vox Vidorra stands ready to conquer massive chunks of musical territory in Michigan and beyond.” – localspins.com

Time will tell, but the band’s focus is squarely on creation and community. Scott Schultz said it best stating, “these songs are simply the result of the greatest conversations we’ve had with each other,” a sentiment that mixed with serious musical chops finds Vox Vidorra on a uniquely firm foundation.

Band Members