POSTSCRIPTS: The future seems brighter than ever for talented Seattle musician Whitney Mongé.
Editor’s note: In Postscripts, we catch up with some of the people and places we’ve visited in Pacific NW magazine.
THERE WERE MOMENTS at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley on Nov. 27 that Whitney Mongé’s appreciative fans were listening so intently to her emotional, personal new songs, moments when the room got so quiet … you could hear people crying.
It was the first of a two-night release party for Mongé’s fourth record, “Carry On.”
Mongé, playing acoustic guitar and showing off her warm, soulful voice, performed all six of the EP’s songs: stories about her mother, family, relationships, loss and success, and living in Seattle. (Mongé describes each of the new songs in videos on her website, whitneymonge.com.).
“It’s a very vulnerable album for me, and I feel like it really represents where I am in my artistry,” Mongé said a few days after the Jazz Alley shows. “I’ve always been a raw artist and wanted to present that in a professional format.”
Don’t get the idea this was all sadness and feelings and introspection, though. There were plenty of hips swiveling in chairs, hands clapping in the air and screams of approval during Mongé’s hour-plus set. The audience included Mongé’s mother, two sisters and nephews. Her mother was there for the second show, too.
The new record — and Mongé’s performance the two nights — was stripped down and solo, but she did have a little help from her friends at Jazz Alley. Each night, she was joined on some songs by Marina Albero on piano, Skyler Mehal on electric and slide guitar, and Arthur James on electric guitar. Naomi Wachira, who opened the shows with 40-minute sets, joined Mongé and Ayron Jones for the finale both nights, a rousing cover of Bill Withers’ song “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Vincent Allis played harmonica with Mongé on her song “Stone” on Wednesday.
Monge described the two shows, her first back-to-back performances to release a record, as an “unforgettable experience.”
Not long after Mongé was featured in a Pacific NW magazine story
this summer, she headed to Europe, where she played 21 shows in a month, at small (but usually packed) venues in Italy and the United Kingdom. Mongé was well-received on the tour, probably benefiting from being a Seattle musician.
“Almost every place I visited in Italy mentioned grunge, Nirvana or Pearl Jam when I said ‘Seattle,’ ” Mongé said. “It’s amazing how that era still impresses on the world today.”
After returning from Europe, Mongé has made appearances on Seattle TV and radio stations, and played in an event called “Cathedrals XXIII” at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill.
Next is a Dec. 31 show at the Neptune Theatre, where Mongé is on the bill for the 7th Annual Artist Home New Year’s Eve Celebration.