Grand Lake / Live Music: Looking for lyrics that ‘get into your heart’
February 8, 2008
Musician Peggy Mann has been warming the hearts of Grand County through song for almost a decade.
The singer-songwriter, originally from Chicago, Ill., has been performing in Colorado for more than two decades as a solo act and as an accompaniment to several bands.
Her descriptive lyrics and songwriting skills have been compared to that of Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon. Her Americana style, with roots in folk, blues and country rock, have captured audiences from all walks of life.
She’s come a long way from the rambunctious little 7-year-old girl who stood on her head and won over the hearts of the judges’ panel singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” during her first talent show.
From that day, Mann continued to hone her musical talents performing in school and theatre productions and singing for her supper playing for a supper club in the Chicago area.
Her father was always a big influence on her as an artist, not only through encouragement but constructive criticism. He’s the one who instilled in her how important her lyrics were, and that the words are what inspire audiences most.
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She began writing songs in the late ’70s, when her song “Fantasies” appeared on debut album “Tenderness.” Next came CD “Songs of Choice” which showcased 13 ballads with her piano and guitar “unplugged.” Mann’s song repertoire not only features original songs but more than 250 commercial tunes (including one that ran for more than a dozen years for American Furniture Warehouse). She also wrote a campaign song for Gary Hart.
She likes to write about things that happen in everyday life, lyrics that “get into your heart.”
Few people “get the opportunity to go there,” she said. “I’m a pretty spiritual person. A lot of things in the world inspire me, depending on what’s going on at the time. It’s gotta be something heartfelt.”
When she didn’t win the chance to vie for the Miss America title in her hometown beauty pageant, Mann succumbed to the pull of moving to the West. She took her First Runner-Up status and her award for Miss Congeniality and moved to Colorado, where she began writing and performing “in earnest,” becoming number one in the eyes of her musical audiences.
Her song “Never Seen A Love Going Wrong” gained her attention and a top-10 spot in a Colorado Composers Classic Competition. She’s entertained in the Denver club scene, throughout resort towns in the state, has opened for such national acts as Nanci Griffith, and has performed at every Folk Festival in Grand Lake for the last five years.
She’s also gained quite a following through several selfless acts of kindness,
including donating two house performances as auction items, which raised $1,600 for last summer’s Race for the Cure fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
She also performed a free concert for an Independent Sports Club benefit last year.
“It’s not about the fame, it’s not about the fortune; it’s about what the music means in the lives of the people that hear it,” she said. “When they ask me what I wish for … I have everything I want. My music, at this point, I really feel is to give back because I’ve got a good life.”
She does most of her recording and writing during the winter season, scaling back her public appearances and putting on the occasional private show or special event. She said she enjoys personal house concerts because “they are intimate and showcase my music on a more personal level.”
This weekend, Mann is set to play a unique performance of “classic love songs” with jazz pianist Brad Pregeant as her special guest. A sold-out show is scheduled Friday evening at the Gateway Inn but people can still try to catch her and Pregeant Saturday evening for a special Valentine’s performance for dinner guests at the Daven Haven Restaurant. The Daven Haven Restaurant will have seatings at 6:30, 6:45 and 7 p.m. (admission includes music and a five-course dinner for two).
“I’m always open to a benefit, even in my home, if it’s for a good cause,” she said. “It’s more important in my life right now to give back.”