Beginning with her childhood singing in the church choir, Myoshi Marilla has spent virtually her whole life performing. She learned piano and dance at an early age, and also acted in school plays. As a teenager she was already playing in shows around her native Virginia, and spent two years performing at Busch Gardens. Her ambition as a singer led her out of Virginia and the US, landing her a four month gig performing a Whitney Houston tribute in Tokyo, Japan.
The Tokyo show turned into a springboard for many more ventures, as she virtually toured the world singing, performing in such varied places as Morocco and New Zealand. She ultimately moved to New York City and began performing regularly around that city. Her presence and personality landed her the enviable position of host of The BET J List, the influential show on the BET J cable channel that became the showcase for many independent soul music artists and one of the most important Top 10 countdowns in the soul music world.
While working as the host, Myoshi was also recording her debut EP, attempting to capture in five songs the varied music she loved, from rock to jazz to Latin to soul. The BET J List was cancelled in January 2007, just as Marilla released Myoshi:The EP. A mixture of jazz ("Hello"), old school soul ("Angel") and a jazz/rock fusion ("Smile," "How Does It Feel"), the disc shows a versatile young artist finding her sound. Myoshi occasionally has a light, playful voice, but shows she can also belt it out on cuts such as the disc's best number, the midtempo "Livin For Me." She elected to record the album "live," and it was a wise move. The album has an immediate feel to it and the band -- consisting of trumpeter Kevin Louis, trombonist Dion Tucker, guitarist Chamel Rogers, keyboardist Burny Pelsmajer, bassist Nate Jones and drummer Jeremy Clemons - is solid, if occasionally overpowering. And her mostly self-penned material is melodic and well structured.
Myoshi: The EP isn't perfect, but effectively shows a creative, out-of-the-ordinary artist growing in her craft, and gives listeners - many of whom know of her as a TV host - a tasty introduction to Myoshi Marilla, the singer. We're looking forward to hearing more.
by Chris Rizik