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Portrait of Marie Black

Marie Black

About Marie Black

Portland, OR


Exploring the edgier, noir side of acoustic driven rock, Marie Black’s rich lyrical tales of existential, political and emotional groove dwellings have taken fans on exciting, thought provoking journeys far beyond the confines of San Francisco and Austin (her former hometowns) and Portland, Oregon, where she’s built an enthusiastic following these past few years. Writing songs about love, loss, rape, despotism, healing, strength and hope, the multi-talented singer/songwriter—whose latest album Water Me, is emerging this summer--has transported them from a starry desert night to a moonless night in the Tenderloin, where she’s invited the curious to get in touch with their innermost longings.

The title of Water Me comes from an idea that famed psychologist James Hillman once called the “Acorn Theory,” whereby a seed is planted in your heart and when it’s allowed to grow, you become a whole, authentic person. Black’s been on that journey since her days writing recording and performing in the Bay Area, when she released her first recording Saints under the name Marie Swan. While Saints received wide critical acclaim and airplay throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, the new 12 track collection (which concludes with an instrumental coda of the powerfully hypnotic title track) is a more intense and rocking musical experience that moves away somewhat from her youthful musings about love and chronicles her blossoming as a more social and reflective (and thus more universal) songwriter.

An explosive and compelling live performer, Black’s vocal expression has left thousands of fans with that perfect mix of being on the edge of their seats while fighting back tears. SF Weekly once wrote, “Her sultry voice, smooth and sweet as honey, is a perfect foil for her bittersweet songs.” When she lived and performed in Austin, Texas Beat made note of her “raw, powerful dynamic, silky smooth vocals.” Steel guitarist Lloyd Mains spoke for a lot of folks when he simply observed, “She’s the real thing.”

That integrity has led her to become a mainstay at a wide variety of Portland venues over the past few years, including The Thirsty Lion, The Green Room, The White Eagle, The Red Room, Dante’s Inferno, KJ’s, The Bitter End and Nine Muses Acoustic Tavern. Following the release of Water Me, she has gigs scheduled at The Hawthorne Theatre and The Gotham Tavern. She’s also played several Women Who Rock shows and a solstice fair and even an art gallery. Earlier in her career, she was a guest singer at Bobby McFerrin’s Chant for World Peace, on the New Year’s Eve preceding the impending first Iraq War. She also won several prominent songwriting contests, including Bay Area Music Referral for “Rude Boy,” which featured Alex Weir of The Brothers Johnson and the Jonathan Demme/Talking Heads film “Stop Making Sense” on guitar. When she lived in Austin, Black was a celebrated performer at numerous of the city’s clubs and also participated in many Women in Austin music showcases.

For listeners new to the dynamic and eclectic Black experience, the opening track “Drop Of Love” is a solid primer on the musical and lyrical goods she brings to the table. The somewhat folky but also edgy and rockin’ song is the perfect amalgam of her compelling mix of styles, and the hopeful narrative is about finding a loving support system in your life that helps you survive and move forward. Black gets deeply personal at times--“Amphibian” is about the destructive abuse of power in religion, which she knows well because she was shunned from her religiously zealous family at age 16. “Hollywood Sage” foils a dark irony between lyrical sarcasm and a deceptively cheery melody; it’s a semi-autobiographical account of having been an 18 year old girl from the cornfields of Pennsylvania who bussed it to L.A., where she found herself in a sleazy peripheral subculture of wannabes and dark stars. “Portland Rain” tackles political and personal experiences of deception, while “Stray Animals” is a playful look at the way Black seems to attract off the beaten path people who have good hearts underneath their somewhat counterculture leanings.

More About The Artist

Portrait of Marie Black
Marie Black