Baltimore’s Ukulele Queen :: Victoria Vox

By:Kelly Louise Barton

Date:January 11, 2015

Category:Kelly Louise Barton, Music, Philip Laubner

From the cover of Ukulele Magazine, to the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Victoria Vox is everywhere—and rightly so. The arts she practices are both unique and endearing, captivating an incredibly diverse audience and drawing even the least musical of folks into her harmonious web. With the release of her 9th album coming up next week (January 20th to be exact), Victoria’s humble talents keep getting noticed, and she couldn’t be more deserving. After all, she is so demandingly approachable that it’s impossible not to fawn over her mouth-trumpetting, uke-jamming talent.

Sitting with Vox in the lobby for her Live in the Lobby shows, it’s immediately obvious that Vox has earned her success with oodles of hard work and an even greater dedication to her uke and her mouth trumpet, the second of which is becoming more obscure by the day. Interesting talents aside, what’s even more obvious is how much fun she’s had getting to this point. With a smile that beams across the room, Vox is so welcoming and inviting it’s jarring. That smile and attitude translate to her music, as fans already know, which explains the success of her career thusfar.

That isn’t to say that Vox’s newest album, When the Night Unravels rests solely on her bubbly personality, but rather that there is so much honesty within the album’s musical and lyrical composure, that it’s impossible not to get sucked in. Several years in the making, Vox’s 9th release makes for a smooth, jazzy ride. After releasing Key in 2013, Vox was left with tons of leftover material and a desire to release another album.

“Key was a very personal, introspective record. Which sounds awesome, but it’s a little bit more on the mellow side,” Vox explains. With When the Night Unravels, Vox wanted to take a step back to create something different. “I really just wanted something a little more upbeat, but my funds were depleted,” she explains. Facing a lack of money, Vox was forced to get creative. After a successful Kickstarter campaign for her 52 Original Song Project, Vox again turned to her fans for help. Lucky for us all, she managed another Kickstarted success.

When the Night Unravels is vast. With jazz elements (like, real horns) accompanying Vox’s signature mouth-trumpeting, to strings alongside her ukelele, each song is a treat and a surprise. “Super Moon” has you falling in love before the first minute of the track is through, with snaps and a smooth melody, prepping you for more Motown-inspired harmonies on the rest of the album. And it’s hard not to fall in love with these songs. Vox’s ability to build these compositions around her ukulele creates a relaxed album that’s calming and sexy.

Since picking up a ukulele Vox has managed to pump out beautiful uke-centered albums like When the Night Unravels, and that’s nothing short of awesome. Before our first conversation, the thought of creating an entire album around a ukulele seemed impossible to me. Even having heard what she was capable of, I still couldn’t figure out how she created these songs without them all sounding like Israel Kamakawiwo’ol.

Instead, her soulful-ukulele shatters all preconceived (and ill-informed) notions about ukuleles and their underrated capabilities as an instrument. Vox’s music doesn’t belong at a luau (although arguably it could probably work), it belongs on a stage.

Like the instrument she plays, the city she’s chosen to call “home” is always fighting against preconceived notions and coming out on top, and she couldn’t be more grateful for it. When asked why she’s settled down in Baltimore after seeing so many cities on her tours, Vox’s reply was simple: “Why Baltimore? Why not?” Inspired by the city’s ability to nurture all of us who flock to it and thrive, Vox picked here over places like NYC, Nashville, Austin and LA. “People are able to cut their teeth and do their art, whatever that art is, without breaking the bank or killing themselves with a cubicle job just to pay the rent.”


Photo by Philip Edward Laubner

“I feel like if I had moved to a music industry-centered city, I would not be the artist I am today,” Vox confesses. “I probably wouldn’t even be doing music anymore.” From mouth-trumpeting lessons, to consistent music releases, Vox isn’t just doing music, she’s kicking ass at it.

 

Be sure to check out When the Night Unravels next week. And see her awesome mouth trumpeting live at one of these dates.

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