STORY WRITTEN BY MIKE PRINCE
For 21st-Century Media
When Gina Sicilia was attending Temple University, she would often spend more of her time writing music, singing songs and trying to get her band started than she would studying for her classes and exams. In the end, it paid off.
It has been roughly seven years since the Newtown native graduated college, and what she has accomplished during that time certainly speaks volumes to her now flourishing music career.
Sicilia, 29, is releasing her fifth studio album — “The Alabama Sessions” — Tuesday (July 29), one that she produced herself while living in Nashville, a place she moved to last September to be near a bigger music scene. And after years of opening for other artists, as well as playing her owns shows at various venues across the country and Canada, the American blues singer is now headlining a new tour, which includes a stop at the Sellersville Theater on Aug. 4, a show that the indie artist is most looking forward to.
“I definitely consider this to be a ‘hometown’ show for myself,” Sicilia said of her upcoming performance. “I spent the past few years opening for other great artists in the area and it was always kind of a goal of mine to headline my own show at that venue. Living in Nashville and coming back to headline my own show there is really cool.”
Not only does the local show make Sicilia feel like she’s really made it (even more than she already has), but it will give the Council Rock North graduate a chance to play in front of plenty of friends and family, making it an even more special and memorable performance.
“A lot of people who had seen me before doing opening sets are going to be there and I think it’s going to be a really good turnout,” she said.
Sicilia started singing when she was about three-years-old, and eventually started writing songs when she was 12. Nowadays, she says she enjoys playing acoustic guitar whilst writing songs at her home, but prefers to just sing with the rest of her band, which includes another guitarist.
During her upcoming tour, Sicilia, who would attend the weekly blues jam at Warmdaddy’s in Philadelphia during her sophomore year of college, will be traveling with her band by van up to Virginia, through New York State and Connecticut and eventually up to Maine for a big blues festival before coming back down through New York City and into the Philadelphia area.
Sicilia’s band, which she formed after moving to Nashville, consists of a guitarist, a bass player and a drummer.
“I like to save the acoustic guitar for myself when writing,” Sicilia said. “I just like to sing on stage.”
Sicilia started playing shows in 2005 and began touring in 2007. Over the last seven years, she has played extensively through the United States and Canada, while performing at major blues festivals in Ottawa, Bethlehem, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and others.
Over the years, Sicilia has opened for such acts as Joan Osborne, Beth Hart, Johnny Winter and many others, but this tour allows her to finally headline and perform at some venues that she has been looking forward to playing.
“I really am looking forward to this tour, especially the Sellersville show,” said Sicilia, who graduated from Temple University in 2007 with a degree in journalism. “It has always been a dream of mine to headline at this venue and I’m looking forward to my new Nashville band being with me. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Sicilia plans to use this tour to promote her new album, which she recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a legendary music town. It marks the first time that Sicilia has produced her own album after using producer and boyfriend Dave Gross for her first four recordings. Her debut album, “Allow Me To Confess,” earned her plenty of headlines and even a nomination for a Blues Music Award in the category of Best New Artist Debut in 2008.
Producing her own album gave Sicilia the opportunity to write all of her own songs, decide on the album’s direction and get final say on everything that made the EP. And while she said it was certainly a “risk” to go that route, she couldn’t be happier with the finished product.
“I am really excited to release it. I had always worked with a producer in the past, so I went in with a lot of trepidation, but it was a very gratifying experience,” Sicilia said. “I decided on how the music was going to sound and overall, it was a big job and something I had never done before. It was a really cool experience.”
Sicilia says her list of influences includes a number of blues, jazz and R&B artists that have all helped to inspire her to get to where she is today.
“I have so many influences and I love all music that I hear,” she said. “I try all Americana, blues, jazz, country, you name it. There is so much music here in Nashville that has really inspired me.”
Sicilia will also be opening for Buckwheat Zydeco Tuesday (July 29) at World Cafe Live at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, De. Check queentickets.worldcafelive.com.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Gina Sicilia
WHEN: Monday, Aug. 4 at 8 p.m.
WHERE: Sellersvile Theater, 24 W. Temple Ave, Sellersville.
INFO.: Check www.st94.com or call (215) 257-580.