Meghann Wright is the founder of The City & The Heart, a supportive community for emerging independent female singer / songwriters living in New York. TC&TH is dedicated to fostering healthy, prolific music careers through networking, fundraising, and grrrl power. TC&TH is curating upcoming fundraisers for New York Women’s Shelter.
I began The City and The Heart because I was lost. I still am. Being lost is a beautiful thing. You have nothing to lose, nothing to hold you back. There is only the sea, the sky, and you.
I came to New York to make something of myself, like so many millions of people do. I fell in love with the energy, the drive, the mess, the constant destruction and reconstruction of buildings and streets and human lives. I felt “this is where I need to be to make my dreams come true. This is where I need to be to make music.”
A couple of years ago, I was approached by a friend to host an open mic at a local dive in the lower east side called The Parkside Lounge. I love that place. The owners, bookers and bartenders are sweet and salt of the earth. In the spirit of partying, I recruited a few friends to play bass, guitar, drums and run sound in case participants wanted a backing band. We drank a shitload of whiskey and had more good times in the span of two years than most people have in a lifetime. I met so many beautiful people. Some of those people reminded me of myself, especially the young women. The young women who came to New York to make something of themselves, who were lost, who had nothing to lose.
I was so enthralled by the moments. The moments they walked up to the dimly lit stage with the tinsel and The Parkside Lounge sign framing their nervous faces. The moments before they began their songs, light from the silver disco ball hanging above them playing in their twinkling eyes. And then they played. They played the music they made when they were alone in their tiny apartments, missing home, afraid of failing and having to pack up their bags and go back to their hometowns. I was the same as them. I am the same as them.
I wanted to follow them, to tell other people about them, to listen to their music at home. Once they were done emoting and soaking up the applause, I asked eagerly, “where can we find your music?” They were apologetic, they didn’t have money for recordings, they had just started writing on their own, they had just moved. I wanted to help, so I did the only thing I could. “I’ll record you.”
I invited them to my home and we would track their songs in my bedroom with the USB microphone my brother had bought me for my birthday. I mixed their songs after they had left. I was ecstatic.
Growing up in Hawaii in the 90s, I was exposed to the punk rock DIY culture of the indie scene. Record labels like Asian Man and Revelation put out samplers featuring songs by the artists on their rosters. I thought, “how cool would it be to do that with all of these talented women?” I wanted everyone to hear the awesome music they were making.
My friend Christina LaRocca (LRock Entertainment) introduced me to an incredible driving force, Tatiana Moroz. She was the business manager for a recording studio in Manhattan. She loved the project and recruited her dear friend Wil Hensley (Regina Spektor, Coldplay) to engineer. We got the opportunity of a lifetime to record the women at a professional studio in New York. Our friends at Creative Monsters documented much of the day in video, which can be seen here.
Not only was it beautiful making music that day, I felt it stirred a new energy in the group. The project had given us the creative boost we needed. We have all moved forward in our careers since that day.
I curated a series of 14 showcases for The City & The Heart last year. So many incredible artists played and honed their performance skills. Mary Mettias began Vine Leaf, Lindsay Dunphy released a record, Peregrine Dactyl recorded her first EP. We have all grown and nurtured each other, helping out with booking shows, finding musicians, supporting each other through it all.
The City & The Heart has been a learning experience for me and has helped me to understand what it is to be a working artist. Most of us have day jobs but a lot of them are music related which helps. We released the inaugural compilation for free on BandCamp this month and hope to share it with as many listeners as possible. We hope our music touches others the way it has us.
Goals for TC&TH include a few more shows this year, with proceeds going to women’s shelters in New York. I started this organization to help women and I intend to do my best to grow it into something that can truly give back to the city that made this possible.