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Shea Rose Wins the Night at Boston Music Awards

In a building where secrets once lived behind locked doors, one truth was revealed last Sunday evening.  Her name is Shea Rose, and she is electric.

Her graceful form and flounced skirt in constant motion, Ms. Rose energized the room with a set that surprised with its innovative and eclectic style.  Her music was soulful, but funky; it was jazz, but with a hint of blues.  Backed by talented musicians including Grace Kelly on saxophone, the singer led the band through a series of complex arrangements.  Her vocals were poetry and were delivered with a sprung rhythm that shook up the beat and brought down the room.   “She’s laying it down!” was the buzz from the back, and Boston recognized a star in the making.  Winner of the “Best R&B/Soul/Urban Contemporary Artist of the Year” award, Shea Rose also won the night.

The 2011 Boston Music Awards was held at The Liberty Hotel, now known for its luxurious accommodations, but once a less desirable destination.  Erected in 1851 as the Charles Street Jail, the building housed famous inmates including Malcolm X and Sacco and Vanzetti before its 1990 closure.  The 90 foot tall central atrium is retained in the renovated facility.

A byproduct of its original intent and quaint architecture, the Hotel has some limitations as a performance venue.  Groups such as Stereo Telescope were found holding court in a corner of the 4th floor landing.  Movement between showcases and floors used a bank of two elevators; excess traffic was directed to the stairs.  Chance meetings in the stairwell and the occasional locked door only added to the fun, club-like atmosphere.

More than an awards show, this event was a party with friends and there was a pervasive sense of youthful goodwill.  It was a celebration; artists and audience mixed freely and comfortably in the ballroom, on the balcony, and at the bar.  When only half of Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band was present for an early photograph, the response was “That’s o’kay, we’re the good half.”

A number of Awards nominees as well as up-and-coming artists entertained at the event.  A standout performance from Freezepop, winner of “Electronic Artist of the Year”. featured the same joyful, beat driven, danceable music that has earned the band a strong following in North America and Europe, and incorporation of their music into videogame soundtracks (Guitar Hero, Dance Revolution).  Lead vocalist Jussi Gamache performed as “Liz Enthusiasm”.

“New Artist of the Year” winner Moufy performed a celebratory short set that had cellphones and cameras held high.  The rap artist was backed by his Star Gang on stage and repeatedly thanked the Boston fans for their support, “Boston, Boston, Boston….”

It was crowded. It was hip. It was loud. It was a little bit drunk. More than anything, the 2011 Boston Music Awards was alive with original music and New England artists with promise.  It was a damn fine time.




For more on Shea Rose:

For more on Stereo Telescope:

For more on Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band:

For more on Freezepop:

For more on Moufy:

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Linda T #

    Very cool story, thanks for posting it. I used to park in the parking lot outside the jail when I did interpreting jobs over at Mass General — then they built the hotel and obliterated the lot. I haven’t been inside the hotel yet so it was interesting to see what it looks like. Shea Rose looks great — her saxophonist Grace Kelly went to my son’s high school for a time before she left early and went off to Berklee School of Music. She is really fabulous in her own right! Glad you had a chance to enjoy this!

    November 22, 2011
    • ontapblog #

      Wow, how interesting, Linda! Grace was a guest artist who appeared midway through Shea Rose’s set. Both artists were wonderful. Grace was very intense on that sax!

      Do you remember the Charles Street Jail when it was in operation? Was the exterior of the building much different than it is now?

      November 22, 2011

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