Although Meaghan Trainor believes it’s “All About That Bass,” the Live in the Vineyard finale Saturday night was really all about youth laying claim to cyberspace and the airwaves.
Music charts aside, it’s up-and-coming teen vocalists and rockers who are going viral, raking in iTune cash and taking center stage on everything from TV talk shows to YouTube.
That fact registered loud and clear last Saturday night at Yountville’s Lincoln Theater — where the main concerts were moved as Napa’s Uptown Theatre was under repair — as chart-topping Trainor, a young, confident Bea Miller and high-energy rockers Echosmith revved up an enthusiastic throng of FM radio contest winners, charity-minded ticket buyers and local hospitality industry supporters in a show bookended by “old-timers” Jamie Scott, 30, and Ingrid Michaelson, 34.
While attendees had come to see popular singer/songwriter Trainor before she launches her inaugural concert tour early next year, they were equally impressed with the 15-year-old Miller, who’s been grabbing listeners’ attention of late with a powerful, gravelly voice and clever youth-focused songs.
Growing up with two moms and twin kid sisters in northern New Jersey, Miller has been turning heads since she took to the elementary school stage at 8.
She’s been courted by record companies but, listening to the advice of those closest to her, she turned down two record deals before signing with Hollywood Records this year. Voice development and maturity caame before ego in her household.
Listening to two of the songs Miller co-wrote on her debut EP, “Young Blood,” performed as part of a 30-minute set on Saturday, it’s obvious Miller has something to say.
“The overall idea behind my music is that kids can rule the world, that they should be free to do whatever they want,” Miller freely tells those who’ll listen. “It’s about giving kids the power to speak out and create the future they want for themselves, which is something I really believe in.
“I’m a teenage girl and I’ve definitely had those moments of feeling like there’s no one who understands me. So I want to make it clear to people listening to my songs that there’s someone who knows what they’re going through and feels the same way they do.”
But don’t think Miller is all serious and not into a bit of mischief now and then. She explains that last Halloween she was not trick-or-treating but stuck inside with a few friends. Instead of moaning about her circumstance, she wrote lyrics to an appropriate ghoulish-accented rocker, “Dracula,” that’s now in her show and on the EP. She describes her type of guy as one with:
“Tattoos and skinny jeans, black boots and piercings
A public enemy.
Not Cinderella, still got my shoes
I like the animal, the supernatural
Maybe I’m crazy but
If you were Dracula
Are you ready to take that bite ...”
Miller admits the song is “no work of art ... but we had fun writing it.”
Prior to coming to the valley for what amounted to her Bay Area debut performance, Miller said during a phone interview that she acknowledges her peers in songs like the title track of the EP, “Young Blood,” a full-throated ode to misfit kids everywhere.
“We are the adults of the next generation,” she maintains. “We are the future ... so we need to take more control of things than we do now.”
It’s clear that Miller is in charge of her career. She quickly points out that she’s completed her first album and is now focused on an upcoming concert tour.
“It’s difficult at any age to launch a career. I’m lucky that I do what I want to do ... at my age, which is really two jobs at once because I am going to school, too. Instead of being able to take naps, I am doing schoolwork.” But she’s not complaining.
While Miller doesn’t believe she needs a college degree to have a career in music, she’s quick to point out that the path to higher learning is a decision to be made by every young person looking at his or her own future. However, she does believe it’s important for all kids to finish high school. “I know that some (kids) drop out ... so I guess it’s where you see yourself.”
“But I don’t feel you need to be taught how to be creative. I’ve always known where I was headed.”
Miller says her first album will be similar to the EP. Although she tries to steer clear of love songs, a couple of them will be included on the recording due out early next year.
One of her most imporftant missions, she says, is to “keep rock music alive.”
Sharing the stage with Miller was Los Angeles-based Echosmith, a quartet of energetic siblings that MTV advised earlier this year is an “Artist to Watch.”
Gowing up in a musical household, Echosmith broke into the Top 20 a few months ago with their tongue-in-cheek rocker, “Cool Kids.” The cool kids in the audience sang along.
Echosmith’s youngest member, Graham Sierota, 15, plays drums. The only female member of the group, Sydney, 17, is the lead vocalist for the band, often contributing on tambourine and keyboard. Noah, 18, plays bass and sings backup vocals for the band. The oldest member, Jamie, 21, sings and plays guitar.
It was clear that Live in the Vineyard founders Bobbii Hatch and Claire Parr intended for the Live in the Vineyard crowd to take note of the youngsters waiting in the wings. We not only noticed, we were most impressed.