Singer-songwriter Aubrey Haddard, and her whiskey-soaked, sugar-coated voice, have found a way to effortlessly weave through groove-centric music, captivating audiences and cementing her place as one of Boston's most dynamic performers. And now she's ready to set the rest of the world on fire with a timeless sound that bridges the gap between new-wave R&B and old-school blues.
So it came as no surprise to find out that there's a new record on the books for 2018. It was nearly a year ago that Haddard partnered with Boston-based drummer Charley Ruddel and bassist Josh Strmic to start working on Blue Part, a full length studio album steeped in the concepts of love, relationships, and passion. "The vision has always been electric, songwriting-focused, vulnerable but powerhouse," she tells us. "And with Charley and Josh as my band, I think we've accomplished just that."
Haddard was raised in the Hudson Valley area in New York, and credits her musical interests to growing up around her father's love of old movies and musicals, and her mother's choice to play Mile Davis' Kind of Blue and Ella Fitzgerald's Greatest Hits on heavy rotation in her antique store. But it wasn't until her teen years that started to have an interest in pursuing a career. "I saw Susan Tedeschi perform and that was a game changer for me," she tells us. "Sort of an ah ha moment where I realized how much I wanted to be a badass woman in rock & roll." It's that same 'ah ha' moment that led her to start performing with blues bands when she was 16. "My mother, a saint, would drive me to sit in at breweries and dive bars," she says. "I got a feel for playing with a band pretty early on."
Haddard now lives in Cambridge and has parlayed her talent into regular gigs in the area, which is no small feat. But it was her first local performance that remains something special. "I responded to an ad on Craigslist from a man looking for someone to serenade his girlfriend while he proposed to her," she says. "So I sent him a demo of me playing her favorite song, 'Just The Way You Are' by Bruno Mars and he gave me the time and place and a description of what they'd look like." Haddard waited for what seemed like hours on the big night and casually approached them, asking to play them a song. And as soon as she started singing the man pulled out a ring and proposed. "I finished and walked away, heart racing, head pounding, and totally high from the experience. Coolest dollar I ever earned."
But it's not just performing that fuels Haddard. She also has a passion for songwriting, a craft that she began in high school with her sister and friends. And it was after graduation, during a trip with Global Citizen Year in Senegal, that she started writing songs of her own. "A lot of songs flowed during the beginning of that journey, mostly dark-toned, alternative rock songs. Cliche as it may be, it helped me cope with all of the shifting happening in my life."
Now, Haddard is drawing inspiration from many sources. In addition to the nuances of everyday life, she also looks to local artists who showcase their vulnerability through their music. And when she starts role calling local female powerhouses like Julie Rhodes and Sally Stempler, we couldn't agree more. "I also really admire Justin Nash Fisher (an outrageous guitar player and my best friend/roommate), Josh Knowles and Adam Moore to name a few," she adds.
"And I can't not mention the incredible Matt Peiffer, engineer extraordinaire who's worked with me on countless projects, most notably my upcoming record."