A Star is Born: L.P., a.k.a. Laura Pergolizzi (left) with Tamzin Brown, an actress and filmmaker. L.P. is best known for the song "Into the Wild" featured in a CitiBank commercial, blew away attendees at the Grammy week event One Night Only: A Celebration of the Live Music Experience at L.A.'s Saban Theatre. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- The goal of the Grammy Foundation in its ambitious program One Night Only: A Celebration of the Live Music Experience was undoubtedly to commemorate the history of the concert. What no one counted on was the arrival of a budding star to watch.
The ubiquitous President/CEO of The Recording Academy Neil Portnow (left) with TV personality Sharon Osbourne, and musician Bret Michaels attend The GRAMMY Foundation's 14th Annual Music Preservation Project at the Saban Theatre on February 9, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Michael Kovac/WireImage)
The Foundation divided its Thursday night program into a celebration of nightclubs, landmark festivals and a classic-rock arena act, Poison, and had an array of modern recording artist emulate the past --Trombone Shorty and Dave Koz as a '40s jazz act, Ledisi tapping Billie Holiday with "Good Morning Heartache," Jonny Lang as Jimi Hendrix and Beverly McClellan as the Jefferson Airplane and Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival. Robert Cray and Mavis Staples were allowed to portray their own histories, he with "Smoking Gun" and she with a medley of a very funky version of "God Bless the Child" and the Staple Singers "I'll Take You There."
Good as all those performances were -- and hearing Trombone Shorty hold a note on a trumpet for an eternity is something to behold -- it was an unknown female singer, recently signed to Warner Bros and best known for a song on a commercial, who got the audience on its feet inside the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills and then talking in accolades at the after-party. Her name is L.P.
Cake-Boss Worthy: One of the main attractions at the Grammy Foundation's One Night Only: A Celebration of the Live Music Experience. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
"Awesome - blew it up" was the quick assessment of Kevin Lyman, creator and booker of the Vans Warped Tour.
"She blew me away completely," said Susan Marshall, president of the Recording Academy's Memphis chapter. "She was completely immersed and lost in delivering her own song and this song we know so well [Radiohead's "Creep"]. You have to be completely lost in the music to deliver something that special. It made me cry and I don't cry easily."
Marshall was hardly alone in her assessment as the lobby area of the Saban Theater was filling quickly while Bret Michaels was wrapping up the two-hour show with a set of Poison hits. L.P. was stationed at the bar where well-wishers were offering a stream of congratulations, asking for photographs and saluting her with a beverage and a hearty salutation.
L.P. is Laura Pergolizzi, a petite young woman with curly dark hair that falls over her eyes in a manner reminiscent of mid-'60s Bob Dylan. She is best known for the song "Into the Wild" that is featured prominently in a CitiBank commercial. "I was a little bit concerned about having a song in a commercial, but I had never done it," she said before the show, which was hosted by Sharon Osbourne and Steve Vai.
It has led to people knowing her unique voice if not her name. L.A. Reid signed her to Island Def Jam six years ago and she contributed a fair number of co-writes but left the label before recording. She co-wrote Rihanna's "Cheers" and worked for awhile in 2010 and 2011 with RedOne before parting ways. She says a live EP is on the way before the full album, which is planned for late this year.
Singers Ledisi and Mavis Staples perform during The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Music Preservation Project at Saban Theatre on February 9, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
The music for her proper debut, she tells Billboard.biz, is "pretty much in keeping with 'Into the Wild.' We're really going in that direction."
The question for Warner Bros. will naturally be whether they can capture on record the spirit that enthralled the crowd at the Saban, which is made up largely of Grammy Foundation members, sponsors such as Seagate storage devices and fans who forked over $25 for tickets.
L.P. provided an ironic twist to the night, which included celebrations of venues such as the Savoy, Troubadour and Apollo, plus the Monterey Pop Festival and Queen's set at Live Aid. Despite being one of the least-known performers, she was one of the few currently signed to a major label. Cray will begin recording his next album in March for the Dutch label Mascot; Dave Koz is Grammy-nominated for his debut on Concord Records, the label that released Lang's most recent album. Grammy winner Shelby Lynne, who paid tribute to the Grand Old Opry with George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today," has her own label Everso Records.
Running the label, which released Lynne's "Revelation Road" late last year, falls to the country singer's manager Elizabeth Jordan. "By hiring the right people to the right things makes it possible," Jordan said with Lynne adding that having her own label was "the natural thing to do." "At a label people want to work with the artists but when you're picking the people for a project, everyone is passionate and works a little bit harder."
That's the sort of enthusiasm L.P. is hoping for at Warner.
(L-R) President/CEO of The Recording Academy Neil Portnow, Recording Academy Chair of the Board of Trustees George J. Flanigen IV, and Dawn Hull attend The GRAMMY Foundation's 14th Annual Music Preservation Project at the Saban Theatre on February 9, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Michael Kovac/WireImage)
The line starts at L.P. (left), next to Tamzin Brown, with well-wishers gathered around. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
Vice president of the GRAMMY Foundation Scott Goldman and Rachelle Gross arrive at the Music Preservation Project at Saban Theatre on February 9, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)