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Volume 15, Issue 12 ~ March 22 - March 28, 2007

Music Scene

Annapolis Rocker Niki Barr Advances in Music Nation Competition

by Sam Farmer

As singer Niki Barr prepares for her fifth international tour, this time to Southeast Asia, the former Annapolitan has a new reason to be excited. Judges selected the 23 year-old’s first music video as a quarterfinalist in week three of Music Nation’s 15-week national on-line video competition that awards its winners a recording contract with Epic Records and a performance on the Clear Channel in-studio series, Stripped.

The contest promises a contract to the winner of each category: rock, pop and urban. Barr falls squarely into the rock genre, which was judged by Joel and Benji Madden, of Maryland band Good Charlotte, and industry producer Howard Benson.

Barr’s video features a tune called “Wasted,” the first track of the rocker’s new album, Lush, her first full-length release. The video was filmed largely at Annapolis’ TK Sharkey’s.

“We had the video out for nearly a year,” said Barr, who left the state capital for Baltimore six months ago. “It finally got noticed, but these things work like that, in waves of interest.”

Others had already taken note of her star power.

“I first saw Niki at an Annapolis First Night,” said Mike Marucci, Barr’s booking manager for the last eight years. “It just hit me between the eyes that she was a star.”

Marucci sees Barr as revitalizing a musical trend that harkens back to a bygone era.

“If we look at the musical landscape of dominant female rock singers,” he said, “we have a void after Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Chrissy Hine. Then Alanis Morissette and Melissa Etheridge, followed by another void. Now Niki and bands fronted by strong women like Flyleaf and Damone are making noise all over the country.”

Despite her youth, Barr’s touring career spans the globe. Segueing from acoustic sets on a stool to fronting a band in a bar by the age of 16, the Denton native boasts visits to Japan, Alaska, Singapore, Germany and the Balkans. Marucci estimates that Barr’s travels include stops in more than 40 countries, on four international tours, all sponsored by the Armed Forces Entertainment Network. Embarking on her fifth international tour this month, Barr is eagerly awaited by the GI’s.

“They love her,” Marucci said “There’ll be 1500 to 2000 GI’s lined up to see her.”

Barr’s last tour, in December 2005, took her to Central Asia. One stint in Europe lasted 43 days.

Music Nation’s quarterfinals will begin on April 23 and will cut the field in half from 24 videos of each genre — Rock, Pop, and Urban — to 12. Judges will select the grand prize winners during the week of May 14.

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