Musician adds a little Sugar to her life
Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 17:11
In a world where music from the heart can be hard to come by, Mandy Burgan, a UCF junior majoring in radio/television, is taking steps to move her musical pursuits forward and have her voice be heard.
With a jazzy singer-songwriter style, Burgan has been slowly building a following in Orlando since 2007. Though you'll usually see her strumming her guitar at intimate venues such as Austin's Coffee, Natura Coffee and Tea and The Abbey, Burgan will be opening up for Sugar Ray at the Amway Center on Dec. 10 to showcase her music with her newly formed backing band.
Burgan started playing the guitar at the age of 15, first picking up the guitar out of boredom because her mother played. When she reached the end of high school, she chose to avoid a career path that was "strongly academic" and decided to apply to Berklee College of Music, and was accepted.
While at Berklee, Burgan built up her songwriting abilities and took influence from artists such as John Mayer, Joe Beam and Stan Getz. After a year at the university, however, Burgan chose to pursue an understanding of music on her own and returned home to begin recording her own material.
"Everyone that I've idolized throughout music has gone to Berklee, but they always left after two or three semesters and it's extremely expensive, so I decided to come home and recollect," Burgan said. "I learned a lot. I learned more about music in that year than I've learned any other time and I still use all of that knowledge today."
With a more firm grasp of music theory and several song writing classes under her belt, Burgan began piecing together the songs that would become her first EP, Bloom.
Burgan eventually came in contact with John Cobalt, an artist in Tampa who had recorded his own material. With an interest of doing some recording of her own, Burgan approached Cobalt. Cobalt was interested, and the two got together in 2009 to record the six-track album.
Cobalt, who did the recording from his house, feels that her music speaks for itself.
"It wasn't the greatest sound quality, but she's such a good performer that it outweighed all of that," Cobalt said.
Though Cobalt has worked with many artists, such as Adam Randall, Alexander & The Grapes and Sins Against, he feels that Burgan's music stands out because of how honest it is.
"She's real; that's why people like her. She doesn't put on an act," Cobalt said. "I hope she keeps doing it forever."
Until recently, Burgan performed her music on her own, and the only company that she had on stage was her Taylor acoustic guitar. Two weeks ago, however, Burgan had her first practice with a full backing band, which will be performing with her at the Sugar Ray show in December.
The new lineup features Sam Hughes on drums, John Vastola on the keyboard, Ryan Russo on lead guitar and saxophone, and, of course, Burgan on guitar and vocals.
Russo, the lead guitarist in the band, has known Burgan since high school and is happy to be a part of her creative vision.
"Her music is really meaningful and transcends to the audience," said Russo, who is a student at Full Sail University majoring in music business. "I'm happy to be a part of that. I want to offer anything I possibly can to complement it."
Burgan feels that this new lineup will add to her overall sound and make things much more interesting.
"When you perform with a band, the adrenaline rush is completely different," Burgan said. "I cannot wait to have all of this because the possibilities are endless with the more people that you add. People identify with a band more."
Burgan is currently writing material for her first full-length album expected to come out next year and said that the album will feature her full band, be recorded by Cobalt as well and will be more complex and musically involved than Bloom.
"With the new one, I'm not gonna hold back anymore," Burgan said. "With ‘Bloom' I kind of held back on the jazz because I was scared that it would be too insane with the chord progressions and that no one was gonna follow it. … It's definitely gonna be different, but it's still gonna have me there. That's all that matters."
Burgan hopes to gain more exposure form the show with Sugar Ray and someday be signed with an indie label.
"I hope for put-a-roof-over-my-head success," Burgan said. "I want people in the Orlando area to want to come to my shows, and that's goal No. 1. Goal No. 2 is gain expansion after that. We'll see what happens."