For singer/songwriter/producer Hope, her name pretty much says it all. She's a gifted performer with an angelic voice and a naturally sunny disposition. She's a lyricist for whom the word "love" comes easily, whether its chatting about her artistic process or bravely singing about the depths of the heart. She's also a musician whose songs have already reached millions online. As she readies for her major label debut, the radio dial is about to be infused with Hope.
Growing up in the quiet countryside of upstate New York, just outside Woodstock, Hope sang from a very early age. A talented guitarist and pianist, she was surrounded by music at home. Her mother, a vocalist, had opened for David Ruffin and Lou Rawls at the Apollo Theater. Her father is a songwriter who was Musical Coordinator of the original 1970s production of Hair on Broadway. During his younger days in "show business," he ran in circles that included Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison.
Those heady younger days were a distant memory when Hope was growing up in their religious household upstate. Though her parents didn't allow pop radio in the house, they infused their daughter with a love of music. She soon found herself infatuated with the songs of Sade, Sting and Seal, who she'd listen to in secret. Hope studied their vocals and developed a lifelong love of pop music.
After graduating high school, Hope arrived in Los Angeles with a dollar and a dream, or rather, "forty bucks and a suitcase," and hasn't left since. "There was such diversity in the landscape and the people that I completely fell in love," remembers Hope with trademark positivity. She soon developed a following by busking on the popular Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, a gathering spot for locals and tourists from around the globe. She sold copies of an independent album while busking, and soon collected a following of fans from around the world.
Those fans have already responded overwhelmingly to her first single as an artist signed to Atlantic Records. "Love Love Love" is a buoyant, bubbly song that springs from Hope's acoustic roots. The sunny, island-inflected tune, recorded with producer Mikal Blue, is an ode to the dizzying experience of a new infatuation, but it also describes Hope's experience as she nears the release of her album. "It's about feeling so much love that you don't know what to do with yourself," she laughs. "Even looking at my record, I'm so excited to finally be launching it that I don't know what to do with myself. Having this dream for so long and finally seeing it come true makes me feel so happy. I'm so in love."
Mikal Blue, who has also worked with Colbie Caillat, OneRepublic, Agustana, and Angel Taylor, co-produced many of the songs on her self-titled debut. At Blue's studio in Los Angeles, Hope found a welcoming environment to creatively explore and realize the sound of her debut. "We've been able to bring in all these amazing musicians," she explains. "His studio is amazing, so he's been able to harness this energy over the years with many artists, giving us a platform to develop our music. He's really supportive of our musical goals." Hope then traveled to the UK, where she worked with legendary producer Trevor Horn (Deal, Yes, Frankie Goes to Hollywood). Horn leant a sense of timelessness and sophistication to the album.
Hope has boldly explored her emotional depths in bringing the album to light. "Who Am I To Say You Love Me" is an earthy, orchestral ballad about a love that might have been.
"Leave Me In New York"-already featured on MTV's series The City-also deals with deferred love. Another moving ballad, "Lighthouse" explores the experience of creating her album. "I'm just loving this time and not taking it for granted," she says.
Fans might be surprised to learn that Hope was actually born a twin. Her sister, Faith, passed just days after their birth. "Sometimes I feel like half of me is literally not here. The music is my other half. I've relied so much on the music to bring me peace and confidence in who I am." Hope also credits her father's songwriting about social and political issues, as well as the lyrics of her favorite artist, Sade, for keeping things in perspective.
"It's not easy for me to write about negative things. I just naturally gravitate towards that silver lining in the clouds," she says. "Even today, it's a challenge to write about something that isn't happy without that sense of hope."