By CRAIG OSTROFF
For 21st Century Media
Mieka Pauley is more than just a singer-songwriter. The Boston native is a force of nature.
Bold, blunt and unapologetically honest, Pauley’s music – which has earned her accolades and first-place finishes in competitions such as Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Female Rock Star of the Year, the Starbucks Songwriter Competition and the New York Songwriters Circle Songwriting Contest — grabs the listener by the collar and never lets go.
Armed with a razor-sharp lyrical wit and a voice that is just as comfortable belting out a powerful tune in front of a full band as it is singing a haunting a cappella (check out her YouTube video performance of “Marked Man” on “Backstage”), Pauley offers an absolutely mesmerizing stage presence.
“I prefer to have the variety,” Pauley said during a recent telephone interview. “I enjoy playing solo because it’s what I’m used to. But it’s always nice to break it up with a band show. I cherish having my own solo shows.
“I don’t really have an artistic attachment to the guitar. I play it so that I can sing. With a song like ‘Marked Man,’ I tried to harmonize, but it took away the power. Singing with the guitar, I find that there’s not a lot of variety. I like the idea of taking out the guitar. There’s a beauty in just connecting with the audience solely with your voice and a beauty in pronouncing the consonants right.”
Following up an extensive college tour, Pauley is touring through the Northeast through April and will close out the road trip with an April 26 appearance at George’s After Dark at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore.
It might be somewhat of an odd venue for a musician whose songs tend to delve into the darker aspects of the human psyche
“To be honest, I do feel a little weird about it,” Pauley said with a laugh. “But I’ve played many different shows at many different kinds of places. I’ll will feel it out, play it by ear. I’ve already been assured I can do whatever I want.”
And that means giving the audience an honest, open, passionate performance.
“Performing is what I live for,” said Pauley, who holds a degree in biological engineering from Harvard University, but fell in love with the art of music performing on Harvard Square during her college years. “I’ve never enjoyed writing, but I love having my own songs. I do love when they’re finished and having the lyrics and having them be mine, but it’s the performing that drives me.”
Nearly two years removed from her last CD, “The Science of Making Choices,” Pauley continues to tour on the strength of the powerful and memorable songs off that CD, as well as three previous EPs and one CD, “Elijah Drop Your Gun.”
In the two years since “Science,” Pauley said she’s written very little. She is currently experiencing writer’s block, though she is quick to clarify that she is not “struggling” or “wrestling” with it. It’s just a fact of life for musicians — there are periods of time where the creative juices simply aren’t flowing.
Fortunately, she has plenty of genre-spanning material under her belt to keep audiences entertained. And a strong presence online with her home page (www.Mieka.com) as well as on YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/miekapauley) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/#!/MiekaPauley). Her music is available at online retailers such as iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon.com and many more.
But there’s no better way to experience Pauley’s powerful and emotional music than to see her perform live.
“When I’m on stage, my banter is very light,” she said. “I get people to laugh in between songs. I’d like to think I have a good empathetic connection with the audience. You’ll get a bunch of sad, angry songs and in between I’ll make you laugh.”
And she’ll continue to tour and gain a following. There are certain sacrifices that an independent musician has to make, she said, but it allows for the freedom to write and perform as she wishes.
“When you’re younger and you think about doing music, the musicians you know are the really famous ones,” Pauley said. “When I first realized there was an in-between, that you didn’t have to be wicked famous, was in college. I realized music could be a regular job. You don’t have to be one of the chosen few.
“I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I don’t have a plan for the future. I’ve always taken what’s been given to me. Most likely, in five years, I’ll be doing what I’m doing now. But otherwise: No plan, no goal, no contract. I like it like that.”
IF YOU GOWHAT: Mieka Pauley
WHEN: April 26
WHERE: At George’s After Dark, St. George’s Episcopal Church, 1 W. Ardmore Ave., Ardmore.
INFO.: Check www.Mieka.com or www.stgeorgeschurch.org. CONNET: On Twitter