Tune in to the Sultry Sounds of Singer/Songwriter Manda Mosher
Americana at its best.
- Written byHadley Hall Meares
You might describe country singer and musician Manda Mosher as a Southern California girl through and through. A thoughtful, warm blonde with soulful eyes, she shares a cozy home in Van Nuys with her husband and business partner, Eric Craig, and their young daughter. Her coveted vinyl record collection lines the shelves, and on one shelf, something of a shrine is laid out to her idol, the late rocker Tom Petty.
Growing up in LA, Manda was steeped in the sounds of Southern California, particularly music that emanated out of Laurel Canyon in the ’60s from artists like Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Jackson Browne. She says that growing up, she was also inspired by music she heard at North Hollywood’s legendary Palomino Club, where Linda Ronstadt often sang her version of country rock. “Everything felt pretty connected to me. It was sort of a West Coast feeling, which is very different than Texas country and Nashville country,” she says. “The California sound—it’s a little more laid-back. It’s a little breezier.”
“I think songs are like little philosophies. A lot of songwriting comes from the complications of relationships and things you wish you would have done, wish you would have said, wish you could change, the lesson you’ve learned from those things, or messages that you just were never able to get across.”
From her early teens, Manda acted as her own manager, putting together bands to play local gigs. “I was singing and playing electric and playing lead guitar and stuff,” she remembers. “And that at the time was not very common. It was kind of an odd thing. But I’m like, well, Sheryl Crow’s doing it. I know one—she’s doing it out there!”
Her next significant stop was the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. “Because the weather was so bad, we were indoors all the time and we were working on music,” she recalls. “It’s a good place to study on the East Coast, because you’re just hunkered in. There are no distractions like out here. When I was a teenager and stuff, it was just like, ‘Well, there’s the beach!’”
After graduating, Manda moved back home and began working for hit songwriter-producer Andy Goldmark, who lives in Encino. She spent years working on the business side of music, learning the ropes by day, and performing her own music at night.
In 2009, her first record Everything You Need was released, followed by her second album, City of Clowns. The next few years were a blur of accolades. Manda won numerous LA Music Awards, was an AmericanaFest showcase artist and an SXSW showcase artist.
And her life as artist on the road began. “It’s like one big adventure,” she says. “There’s highs, there’s lows. Financially, it’s the same thing when you’re out there because some nights are good, some nights aren’t. Some nights you can have a really good meal. Some nights you’re scrimping by. It feels like you’re leaving your fate out there to whatever the universe has in store for you in that particular town. So, there’s an excitement to it.”
Through it all, Manda worked tirelessly writing her own material. Described as a “rootsy, seductive songstress” by one music critic, today she is become a celebrated songwriter.
“I think songs are like little philosophies,” she explains. “A lot of songwriting comes from the complications of relationships and things you wish you would have done, wish you would have said, wish you could change, the lesson you’ve learned from those things, or messages that you just were never able to get across.”
The last 10 years have been a whirlwind with Manda touring with her award-winning all-girl band, Calico. Manda produces California country shows, featuring artists like Shooter Jennings, who keep the tradition of alt-Americana alive. Together she and Eric launched Blackbird Record Label, and they sell kitschy clothing through their California Country Apparel brand. The couple also built a home studio, where their 4-year-old daughter can often be found playing the drums and riding her bike.
“We’re just kind of taking everything in while my daughter is at this age. We’ve brought things in a little more insular. We can work on the music here. Record here. Work on the label. Work on the clothing, and just keep all of these irons in the fire.”
A creative lair, indeed.