Most twenty-year-old college students are exploring their identity and Samantha Fierke is doing their searching, questioning and experimenting via song. Despite their youth, the jazz singer-songwriter recently released their debut album, “Mirage,” which is a mature, transcendent and intriguing collection of captivating confessionals, emotional explorations, and intimate journal entries documenting the last couple years of their experience spanning an autism diagnosis, finding their place in the world through a queer identity, and leaving the safety of their Columbia, Missouri home post-pandemic to begin studies in Boston at Berklee College of Music.
Since the album’s street date, Fierke’s self-released jazz vocal album produced by drummer Loyd Warden is steadily collecting accolades from reviewers, radio spins and more than 20,000 Spotify plays. In conjunction with the album’s arrival, Fierke played shows in both Boston and Columbia, confidently sharing their songs from “Mirage” at club gigs.
Live performance videos for album tracks “Color Me” and “I Remember Butterflies” hit YouTube, inviting listeners to delve into the engaging talent’s songbook. On “Color Me,” which previewed the album when issued as a single last summer, a heartbroken Fierke sings about their autism diagnosis made last year, one that brought liberation and confirmation as well as pain and confusion stemming from an abusive relationship. On the surface, “I Remember Butterflies” recalls halcyon times yet it’s more of a song that mourns lost innocence.
Fierke’s “Mirage” conveys hope and despair amidst the chaos and turmoil of recent times – from the pandemic, political tensions, civil unrest and economic uncertainty. Backed by a trio comprised of Warden (drums and percussion), bassist Mickey Jamieson and keyboardist Samuel Luetkemeyer, Fierke’s vocal prowess is astute, sophisticated and poised while authentic, expressive and heartfelt. Whether singing their stories on tracks that form a mélange of jazz, fusion, global folk, funk and adult pop, or scatting amidst swinging rhythms and grooves, Fierke’s project provides a jolt of youthful creativity, ambition and adventure into vocal jazz, introducing a new voice to watch.
Fierke & Company spent a couple of years working on “Mirage.” During the writing and recording process, Grammy nominated jazz vocalists Gretchen Parlato, Jane Monheit and Oleta Adams as well as Grammy winner Taylor Eigsti served as Fierke’s mentors and role models. After hearing the finished album, another Grammy winner, Brother Paul Brown (The Waterboys), submitted “Mirage” for Grammy consideration in five categories.