Marsha Ambrosius – NYLA Tour - 2/19/19Tuesday, February 19 2019 6:00pm Doors / 8:00pm Start / Ends 9:30pm (Estimated End Time)
- Front Premier
- Bar Stool
Marsha Ambrosius – NYLA Tour - 2/19/19
at City Winery Boston
- 9:30pm (Estimated End Time)
Love enlarges life and makes each experience three-dimensional. It also dramatically amplifies
the impact of art.
GRAMMY® Award-nominated soul singer, songwriter, and pianist Marsha Ambrosius catalogs two transformative years via the 16 impassioned, irresistible, and inimitable anthems comprising her third full-length album and first for Entertainment One (eOne)—NYLA. During that time, she met her future husband on the road, married him, and gave birth to the album’s namesake, her daughter Nyla.
Now, these moments live and breathe in her biggest and boldest body of work to date. “Bringing a daughter into the world just added to the size of my heart, which added to the size of my musical experience,” she admits. “Playing a piano isn’t just playing a piano anymore. Writing lyrics isn’t just writing lyrics anymore. I’m channeling something that was completely foreign to me before. It’s real love. I let go of everything, fell in love, and became a wife and mother. The record gives you this storyline.”
Nearly two decades in the game set the stage for this story. After co-founding the gold-certified and influential Floetry, Marsha went from penning tunes for Michael Jackson “Butterflies,” Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx to launching a successful solo career. Her 2011 debut, Late Nights & Early Mornings, bowed at #1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart and #2 on the
Top 200 and yielded hits such as the GRAMMY® nominated “Far Away” and “Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player).” As her profile rose, The First Family - The Obama’s, invited her to perform at The White House for The National Christmas Tree Lighting.
2014 saw the follow-up Friends & Lovers soar to #2 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart and #12 on
the Top 200 highlighted by collaborations with Dr. Dre, Charlie Wilson and her nephew Skye. In between a relentless tour schedule, she lent her voice to five tracks from Dre’s 2015 chart- dominating and gold-selling swan song, Compton, in addition to high-profile collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Solange, A Tribe Called Quest, and many more.
In the midst of these accomplishments, NYLA initially took shape during a period of emotional
“I was losing my mind,” she admits. “Being a creative can be a lonely and cold road. I just didn’t feel like myself. Channeling all of the energy into the music is what helped save my sanity. Poems turned into melodies and a bunch of songs like my personal therapy in a sense. From beginning to end, it’s me letting go of everything I wanted to let go of in my life and experiencing things all over again through Nyla’s eyes.”
She initially teased the impending album with “Luh Ya.” Satiating rabid fan demand, it quickly generated 7 million Spotify streams. Kicking off the campaign, the first single “Old Times” pairs sparse piano keys and subtle bass with a stark vocal that builds towards a rapturous refrain punctuated by fiery falsetto.
“My heart was desperate to have love, but I was also afraid of it,” she confesses. “I wrote ‘Old Times’ before I got married. A year later, it sounded so different. To me, it’s about wanting to preserve that old love and that good feeling when you used to listen to your Stevie Wonder, Prince, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson records. You want to be comfortable, hold your loved
ones tight, cry, sing, and pray. It’s all about true feelings for me.”
Pushing the limits of her expansive range, the emotionally charged “Never Be The Same Again” pays tribute to a friend who would be tragically taken from the world too soon. She notably recorded it in one tearful take, and it remains a stand out.
“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he was stabbed to death,” she sighs. “It’s still difficult to talk about and say he’s not here anymore. We wish we could go back, but we never can. It’s dedicated to his memory. I’m crying out my feelings on this one.” Elsewhere, Nyla swings from the swaggering strut of “I Got It Bad” to “How High,” which
perfectly captures what she describes as a “Marsha Moment.”
“I’ve been writing and recording with just me and the keys since I was eight,” she smiles. “Even with all of the bells and whistles. It comes down to great lyrics, a melody, and a strong performance. It’s vulnerable when it’s just me and the piano. There are a lot of those moments.”
They’re also impossible not to feel. That’s what makes NYLA so impactful. “I’m trying to bring feeling back,” Marsha leaves off. “It’s nothing contrived. I’m trying to create music that people can feel again. I felt this. I’m sharing it now.”
What does The Bonfyre sound like?
For starters, it’s more of a sensory experience—something that you see and feel as much as you hear. The name itself evokes a cackling pyre in the dark beckoning people to congregate, commune, and come together. With a powerhouse voice, endless energy, and inspiring ambition, the Massachusetts-born and Atlanta-based songstress welcomes listeners to her world by the guiding light of a bright and bold musical flame.
It really heats up on her debut EP for Toler Heights Music/HITCO, Ready To Love.
“Everything should sound and feel like a bonfire,” she exclaims. “When I think of a bonfire, it’s super inviting and fun. All are welcome. It’s a no-judgment zone. I hope listeners can gravitate towards what I’m doing in a similar way. Bonfyre is relatable and touchable, but she’s not your normal, average girl.”
There’s nothing average about her story either. In fact, she first cut her teeth performing at just six-years-old. She became the main attraction at her family’s weekly Polynesian-themed show, bringing the crowd to its feet on a regular basis. Inspired by everyone from Erykah Badu, Christina Aguilera, and Mariah Cary to The Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Tina Marie, she quietly honed her voice through countless hours of practice. By 17, she had begun hitting the stage at local shows throughout the Northeast.
Following an electrifying performance in Harlem, Raphael Saadiq caught wind of her talents and reached out
on social media. The iconic GRAMMY® Award winner flew her to Atlanta, and the chanteuse dove into honing
a soulful signature style of her own under his watch.
After two years of developing this sound under the radar with Saadiq and partner Yance’s production Company Toler Heights Music, a cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Sweetest Thing” racked up impressive numbers online and landed on the desk of L.A. Reid who promptly partnered with Toler Heights Music and signed her to HITCO in 2018. Now,Ready To Love introduces her hypnotic hybrid of slick R&B and widescreen pop powered by rafter-eaching vocals, vivid lyricism, and raw emotionality.
“It has a whole mix of different feelings, so anyone can vibe with it,” she goes on. “Each song relates to a piece of my life. At a bonfire, you traditionally tell stories. I’ve been through some things, and I’m letting you know.” The title track and first single “Ready To Love” pairs her diary-style lyrics with an energetic groove before culminating on a traffic-stopping vocal display during the confident and catchy hook. “I’m being real,” she says.
“I’m telling this guy, ‘I’ve got all of these options, but I see you.’ When you’re done playing, I’m here. When
you’re ready to love, I know it’s going to be me.”
Elsewhere, “On One” shakes out a sexy bounce as “Automatic” highlights her irresistible charisma and innate sense of soul over a beat by Hitmaka. “It’s about a boy,” she admits. “It’s like this conversation between me and him. I’m revealing what’s happening in my life.”
In the end, The Bonfyre is burning for you.
“With my music, I want to mark people’s memories,” she leaves off. “I pin music to so many of my memories. I want everybody to be able to do the same. The goal is to resonate on that universal level.”