Basically, Angie Coltrane wants to be your friend.
The Durham-based vocalist, like so many singers, is reaching out to people in the hopes that her music will round up a fan base as well as a network of supporters.
“My goal is to just expand the whole, you know, idea of friendship, and the Cool Network obviously is gonna expand also,” says Coltrane, during lunch at a Durham eatery. The Cool Network she refers to is her five-piece backup band, whom she performs with inside and outside the Triangle area.
Music has been a constant in Coltrane’s life ever since her childhood in Long Island, back when her last name was Shella. Music surrounded her as a kid – her saxophonist dad had a piano and a Hammond organ smack dab in the middle of the living room.
“I don’t wanna call him crazy, but he had music everywhere,” she says. “So everybody in the family sort of had no choice but, when they were young, to sort of just play around with these things and learn to play these things.”
Coltrane isn’t the only family member to delve into music professionally. One of her brothers was a keyboardist for Whitney Houston. “It’s a pretty cultural thing to focus on music and entertainment in my family,” she says.
But even though Coltrane had enough chops to perform in choirs and record with artists like gospel singer Marvin Sapp, she still had a day job – teaching high school science. According to Coltrane, her talents as a performer often came in handy during public school functions.
“When I was a teacher, they would have me go in and do short speeches,” she remembers. “So I had to go in there, and it would be a gymnasium full of people, and I’d go up there and be like, ‘This is what I do.’ So I decided that I would take that talent and would incorporate it in my music.”
Coltrane has been on the solo-career grind for two years, performing live with her band and dropping music on her Bandcamp page. (She’ll be performing at Motorco in Durham Wednesday.) In the past, she’s been told her uninhibited, unpredictable vocal stylings were too much. But, these days, that’s what she wants to be known for.
“I wanna live in no-hold-back zone,” she says. “And I’ve been told people don’t sound that way when they sing, you know … And the other school of thought is no, go for it. Do something different. Be original. And so the challenge is how do I be original and not go overboard where people think it sounds too crazy.”
Another challenge she’s working on is performing in other major cities, not just to get more exposure, but to do a YouTube video blog where she documents her shows and the people she interacts with.
“We’re gonna go and we’re gonna meet friends,” she says, hoping that an in-the-works Indiegogo campaign will help her and her band get enough funds to tour later this year. “I’m gonna meet some of them that are musicians, and the meeting doesn’t have to be about me. So I’ll be able to share my other songs and meet other people, and those friends will be a part of my Network.”
Well, let’s all wish Angie Coltrane good luck on her mission to be heard from coast-to-coast, for there’s a lot going on in that voice of hers.
“Whenever I sing, I want to be able to have something to say,” she says. “That’s really what I want people to do, is say, ‘Who is that?’ – and discover.”