Gina Sicilia is not your ordinary singer living in Nashville and she may just have one of the biggest voices you’ve heard in a long time. In fact, this singer with blues-soaked booming vocals hails from the historic music city of Philadelphia, following in the footsteps of other Philly greats such as P!nk, Diplo and Questlove.
Even though you can hear bits of Patsy Cline, some Aretha Franklin and comparisons to Susan Tedeschi in Sicilia's voice, this singer-songwriter has her own unique sound and is her own independent artist. Gina Sicilia is one of those talents to watch out for in 2017 with the release of her seventh album, Tug of War, which was released June 2.
After surviving the move from Philly to Nashville with some personal struggles along the way, Sicilia was inspired to write and record the new material which is full of tender heart-exposing lyrics, combined with beautifully achy vocals. The first two tracks off this album, “I Don’t Want to be In Love” and “Damaging Me” really set the tone for Sicilia’s mindset at the time, and showcase the young singer's songwriting ability and vocal prowess.
AXS spoke with Gina Sicilia from her home in Nashville and chatted about her new album, Tug of War, covering a classic Beatles tune and how imitating the “Queen of Soul” inspired her as a young singer.
AXS: Your voice is a special kind of sultry, powerful, and yet vulnerable at the same time. Where do you think you got that big voice?
Gina Sicilia: Well, (laughs) I've tried to develop my own sound through years of singing. I've been singing all my life. I don't remember a time that singing was not a part of my life. It's always been my passion and what I wanted to with my life. Singing is something that I just could not stop doing, so over the years I keep trying to create my unique voice, but still taking bits of singers I’ve always loved.
AXS: You come from Philadelphia which has a great musical history. Who were you listening to as a kid that made you want to get into singing?
GS: I was exposed to so many types of music growing up. For sure pop music, but my dad also played a lot of Italian music in the house because he's from Italy. I was drawn to '50s doo-wop music like Dion and the Belmonts. I also loved girl groups of the '60s like the Shirelles, the Ronettes and Lesley Gore. I'm influenced by a lot of music I hear. I try not to limit myself to one area or genre of music.
AXS: Tell us about the new album Tug of War that’s out June 2. What’s this album about?
GS: In the past three and a half years I've gone through a lot personal and professional changes in my life. I moved from Philadelphia, where I lived all my life, to Nashville where I didn't know anyone. I went through a lot of changes in a short period. In life, there a lot of ups and downs and there were a lot of that for me in this period of my life. I learned a lot from my bad and good experiences, and in the end, I got a lot of songs out it - which is the best part of all. It's that tug of life that has you pulled in many directions.
AXS: The song “Damaging Me” is a very personal song. What are you saying on this song and what was your process in writing it?
GS: I thought before I wrote this song that it's too depressing (laughs). When bad things happen to us in life, we're left broken, but in the end, we can all kind of heal. At the same time, you're still a little damaged and scarred with things that happened to you. Even if you move on with your life, you can still be a little damaged.
AXS: Your covers of Patsy Cline’s “He Called Me Baby,” the '60s classic “Tell Him” and the mesmerizing Beatles hit, "All My Loving," on this new album can stand on their own. Why did you want to put your own spin on these songs?
GS: Well, I love all of those songs. I really wanted to do “All My Loving,” which has such a beautiful melody. I wanted to slow it down and turn it into a soul ballad. I’m really proud of this version; I love singing this song.
AXS: What was one of your favorite albums growing up?
GS: When I was in High School, I remember singing along non-stop to Aretha Franklin’s Delta Meets Detroit album. I’d sing non-stop in my bedroom to that album, and imitate how she sang.