About nine years ago, I was looking through the CD Singles (remember those, anyone?) at a Best Buy when I happened across a track called “Everything U R” by a new Warner Bros. artist named Lindsay Pagano. From the picture on the sleeve it was clear that she was quite young, so I assumed she was Warner’s answer to Britney Spears, X-tina, Mandy Moore and/or Jessica Simpson: a cute teen artist in an era of cute teen artists. This, of course, was six years before the Disney triple-threat juggernaut of Miley, Demi and Selena. Strangely, though, Lindsay didn’t fall into the ‘tween’ category where her music would be labelled ‘for kids’ but right there on the regular shelf with everyone else. (‘tween’ hadn’t really been coined yet, anyway) Times have changed. If I may digress for a second, Miley Cyrus is having a hell of a time getting any sort of adult respect at seventeen because of her association with the kid-friendly Hannah Montana but Lindsay at fourteen was recording a duet with Sir Paul McCartney. She wasn’t pigeonholed as a kid performer and she ended up in a long line of teen stars (dating back to Stevie Wonder) who had the respect of adult listeners and weren’t dismissed as something “my daughter listens to.” So, while Miley is selling millions of records, she’s being forced to amp up the sexuality to prove that she’s not just a little girl anymore. At times it looks a lot like dress-up and it takes away from the true depth of her talent. Years ago the same thing happened to Deborah “Debbie” Gibson when she quit playing to the college guys who came to her shows and decided to be a spokesperson for little girls. “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”, right? Well, maybe… except that little girls grow into fickle teenagers in about two and half years and if you’re selling your wares to them, your window of opportunity is roughly proportional to their attention spans and interest in you… which is roughly two and half years.
Lindsay, in my estimation, didn’t have this problem. Her first single was picked up as the AOL theme song and all the reports suggested this little girl from Philly was on her way. The eventual record that followed “Love and Faith and Inspiration” was produced by Jude Cole and featured the aforementioned duet with Macca. However, the hype built up around the single wasn’t kept aflame by the label and no second single appeared. The album, released during the initial implosion of the record industry, more or less disappeared. Fingers cannot be pointed at Lindsay in this mess, she was a personable, pretty teenager with a big voice. Someone needed to know how to sell that. But, chances are, everyone was looking for the next little girl who had no problem posing for the cover of Rolling Stone in trashy lingerie. This, I hazard a guess, is not Lindsay Pagano’s style. I follow her Tweets, am Facebook friends with her and she seems to be, for all intents and purposes, a sweet city girl with the Philly attitude for taking no shit from anyone. She’s Italian, too… so you know her blood runs hot!
After the Warner’s debacle, Lindsay had a strong opportunity when the Matrix (the production team behind Avril Lavigne’s initial success as well as countless radio singles for other stars) signed her to their fledgling label, Let’s Hear It. The first single there was called “Bang” and it had a mix of Philly soul with the high-concept pop that the Matrix was known for. Alas, for whatever reason, the label never happened and the single disappeared. Currently I hear the members of the Matrix are Dr. Luke’s housekeepers… just kidding. (You need to know your current pop music events to get that one!)
Lindsay went back to Philadelphia, finished high school and started college, while continuing to record demos, work with other artists, etc. This winter she was featured on a single by Josh Colon entitled “Dance Wit Chu”. That’s the Josh Colon of MTV’s Real World D.C. This week (May 20) Lindsay is back in LA presumably to take some meetings and enjoy this great spring weather and that’s why I’m writing this post. I know how important it is to have someone champion your work or say a few good things on your behalf. Recently, I’ve decided to no longer entertain anyone who doesn’t approach their work or dreams with integrity and professionalism. In a town full of talkers, we’re blessed this week with the return of a singer. A professional. Not someone who approaches life like a hobby, something to fill the time between hikes and trips to the wine bar. Nor someone who rides the coat tails of their dubious acquaintances. No! This is a performer who is dedicated to her craft and who deserves people to write blogs in support and introduce her and her music to their friends and peers.
So, to Lindsay, I say welcome back… thank you for reminding me that there are people out there who take their talent and dreams seriously. Fortunately, the others are easy to spot and easier to avoid: you’ll find it in the vacant stares, the put-on poses, the self-important introspection and the indulgent pride. That ain’t Philly soul!
-Jesse Pomeroy, Hillrose Street