Calling themselves The Wild West, six of the most treasured female singer-songwriters in Los Angeles have forged a strong bond of friendship that led them to a write and record their new song “Better Way.” The empowering message of the ensemble’s first single is shared equally by its members, all of whom have enjoyed significant success as solo artists: Tawny Ellis, Pi Jacobs, Heather Anne Lomax, Amilia K. Spicer, Deb Morrison, and Manda Mosher.
“What started as an online happy hour during quarantine turned into a series of long, soulful conversations about the state of the world, our personal lives, and of course, music,” Morrison says. “Communicating via our computer screens was surreal at first, but once we got the hang of it, we let our cocktails and freak flags fly and never looked back. We had no idea that this would be the beginning of a new musical journey and the birth of our first song.”
During a particularly frightening time in lockdown in the summer of 2020, Mosher shared just a spark of a song idea with the group. As it gradually took shape, “Better Way” became a thoughtful reflection on our times, a rallying cry, and a source of comfort for all six women.
“The song came out of a desire to bring more ideas of unity and hope into our troubled times. I went out into the studio and started the song inspired by our group discussions”, Mosher recalls. I sent the start of it off to the girls for collaboration and we all ended up with a similar lyrical vision of hope.”
Truly, hope is one of the common threads shared by these six women. Another is humor. So is compassion and love of music. Although their Zoom calls started out as a casual hang, many of its members were surprised to discover they had naturally become a social support group, too.
“I firmly believe that you can't survive as a woman in this business without passion, dedication, a sense of humor, and an ability to pick yourself up after a hard fall -- which we all have,” Jacobs says. “We are all people who can’t live without music, we NEED to create it, so yes, it is indeed therapy for us, and (we hope) for those that listen. These women are all so talented and diverse. I love seeing what they do, and how they treat the material -- especially when they do something vastly different from what I would do. It’s a delicious musical surprise.”
“We all knew and respected one another in the local scene, but it wasn’t until Covid that we really got to know each other,” Spicer adds. “The few times we were able to get together in person, distanced, the joy of singing together and playing our instruments was very cathartic. Aside from being women in the music business who have experienced many of the same challenges along the way (enough there for a book!), we all have a desire to make sense of the world right now. And we want to put a voice to it.”
Spicer also came up with the name The Wild West – not just due to the Los Angeles connection, but also because it felt “untamed, a bit scrappy, and full of promise.”
“We are pretty wild gals in some ways -- all dancing on the edge to express ourselves,” Ellis observes. “I’ve never met such a bunch of dolls that are such badasses who really can play. They all have special voices in writing and singing. Everyone is so generous. We all find our moments to shine and that may be just laying out in the background for a verse, etc., playing a shaker or whatever. I could never have imagined I would be so blessed to be a part of a group of women who are so open and honest -- the talent and the humor are the cherries!”
Because the Wild West doesn’t have a lead singer, there’s an opportunity for harmony here, which feels like a gift for a solo artist. And by putting these voices together, a listener is hearing something altogether new. “Better Way” is merely the start of this special collaboration.
“There are some songs coming up where some of the women will have a lead vocal, but I love that we are happy to let each other shine in their moment,” Lomax says. “Everyone in The Wild West is respected, supported, and honored for the song(s) that she chooses to sing. We are all musicians that missed the beautiful synergy of working with other musicians to create music. There is a lovely sisterhood that flows so naturally between women -- and it is taken to a new realm when you include the magic of making music together.”
Photo Credits: (1f) The Wild West (3) Manda Mosher, (4) Amilia K. Spicer, (5) Heather Anne Lomax, (6) Pi Jacobs, (7) Deb Morrison, (8) Tawny Ellis (unknown/website).