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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Kay Hanley Rocks the Paradise

Kay Hanley Rocks the Paradise
Matt Bogdanowicz

If you are wondering who the hell Kay Hanley is, let me refresh your memory. Kay was the lead singer for the Boston band Letters to Cleo, who found success with their top ten alt-rock hit “Here and Now”, which was made popular by the Melrose Place soundtrack. The band also found success by being cast in the motion picture 10 Things I Hate About You and covered two songs on the movie’s soundtrack.

After the band went their separate ways in 2000, Hanley was left to make a name for herself as a solo artist. She got a huge break in 2001 when Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds hired her to perform the lead vocals in the movie Josie and the Pussycats. The movie flopped at the box office, but the soundtrack became a gold record selling well over 500,000 copies and reaching number 16 on the Billboard charts.

Once audiences realized actress Rachel Leigh Cook was not singing but mouthing to Hanley’s beautiful voice, people started to take notice. Shock jock Howard Stern was a huge fan of the Josie soundtrack and Hanley’s vocal styling. Stern had Hanley stop by to perform some tracks from the movie and promote her new solo debut.

Hanley signed with Zo/Rounder Records in 2002 and released her solo debut Cherry Marmalade later that year. The album showcases Hanley’s amazing songwriting and vocal abilities. Hanley’s album is pop rock with an edge. From the opening track “Fall” to the rock ballad “Galapagos,” it is clear why she won the 2002 Boston Music Award for Best Female Vocalist (independent label).

A native of Dorchester, Hanley moved to Los Angles last year to pursue more work on TV and films. She currently started a side project, The Ladyapples, with singer-songwriter Michelle Lewis. The Ladyapples are playing around the Los Angeles club circuit and have been collaborating with songwriters Lisa Loeb, Tracy Bonham, and Veruca Salt singer Nina Gordon. Hanley recently performed at The Paradise Rock Club in Boston on Thursday, August 26. This was her first time back in Boston since headlining a show almost a year ago.

I got a chance to see the show and talk with Hanley about her latest solo venture, Baby Doll. The EP includes six brand new tracks from Hanley. She commented, “It was incredible to play a venue that size. I’ve been playing in really small clubs since I moved to L.A. and didn’t think I could fill the Paradise because I’ve been away from Boston for so long.” The club was packed with fans belting out old Cleo tunes and really appreciating the new songs Hanley performed.

“It’s a fantastic feeling putting out music people really care about, the crowd was unbelievably loving, and it was wonderful to return home to such a wonderful response. They love the old Cleo tunes and were so appreciative of my new songs,” says Hanley.

The show was filled with amazing energy Hanley’s fans really love her and her music. She stayed around well after the show was over to sign autographs and chat with fans. She is by far the most approachable “rock chick” I have ever come across. The set included all of the new songs from Baby Doll, as well as some Cleo favorites. The show had an dynamic energy and it was clear Hanley was ecstatic to be back home. Kay Hanley is an incredible vocalist and songwriter. Her songs are pop rock but they have a sophistication and an edge to them. She keeps the audience bopping their heads and loving every sound that resonates from the stage. I highly recommend purchasing Hanley’s new EP. You will not be disappointed! For more info on Kay Hanley and her music check out kayhanley.com.