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Ubervox Helps Female Musicians

<bt>Local female singers looking for a voice have finally found what they were looking for in Ubervox. Created in November 2001, Ubervox is a networking organization for female musicians in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia to help generate contacts and connections, share resources and, of course, find gigs.

Four of Ubervox’s members will perform on June 24 at Jammin’ Java: Flo Anito, Melissa Holt, Kristin, and Nicki Lehrer.

Ubervox’s founder, Verlette Simon, also a female musician, has dedicated much of the past two years of her life to bringing the organization to life. A Brooklyn native, Simon moved to Maryland in 1999 and found the atmosphere between New York City and D.C. to be quite different from one another.

“[In the D.C. area] musicians are much more helpful and less competitive,” Simon said. “They’re happy to invite others to play with them. That’s what Ubervox does — helps people get gigs and attention.”

Working together with fellow friends and artists, Simon started Ubervox, whose popularity and reputation has grown ever since by word of mouth, Simon added.

Although the four musicians performing on June 24 are relatively young — all are between the ages of 18 and 23 — they believe their varied styles of music can reach a wide audience.

THE YOUNGEST OF THE FOUR, Lehrer, for example, has been playing classical guitar since she was 7. Soon after, the Rockville, Md. native was playing street corners in Georgetown. She released her first album, “The Beltway Tour,” at the age of 12 and was nominated for two Washington Area Music Association awards at the age of 15.

When asked to play a few gigs with Ubervox, Lehrer was happy to do so.

“They’re very supportive of women in music in the area,” Lehrer said. “It’s a strong community of musicians and I’m fortunate to meet friends with the same interests.”

Lehrer’s most recent album, “Crescendo,” is full of 14 classical and Spanish flamenco covers, including a track that shows off the musician’s voice talent.

Similar to Lehrer, folk-rock singer/songwriter Kristin has worked on the musical craft of guitar from an early age. The Richmond-based artist currently attends Virginia Commonwealth University as a music major. Kristin is fully dedicated to pursuing a career in music. She has released two albums, including her most recent, a three-track EP titled “Odyssey.”

Kristin has also been lucky enough to work with members of one of Virginia’s more famous acts, the Pat McGee Band.

“Oh, they’re great,” Kristin said. “I met them when I was 15, and they liked my stuff. They said any time they could help they would, and when I went into the studio to record 'Odyssey' they were in town. They are great guys to work with.”

Baltimore native Melissa Holt is also in the folk rock vein and has traveled much of the East Coast performing her brand of music. Influenced by artists ranging from Patty Griffin to Aimee Mann, Holt employs acoustic and baritone guitars to complement her strong vocals.

The oldest of the group playing at Jammin’ Java, Holt looks to Ubervox to help further her career.

“Being a part of Ubervox, I hope to be able to get more exposure and meet more musicians to continue doing gigs,” Holt said.

THE FOURTH ARTIST, Flo Anito, is trained on the cello, guitar and piano and will make use of the latter two at the concert. Having already released an album in 2001 and graduated from college with a music degree, Anito currently resides in D.C. and is also very dedicated to pursuing a career in music.

“I really want to be able to do this as my sole profession and I want to continue touring and put out another CD soon,” Anito said.

Anito’s future will be busy with other responsibilities as well — she has just taken over the role of chapter coordinator for the D.C./Northern Virginia chapter of Just Plain Folks, a national grassroots music networking organization not too different in structure from Ubervox.

The other three musicians will find their futures busy as well, with Holt touring Alabama and Texas at the end of July, Kristin releasing a new album around the end of the year and Lehrer beginning her freshman year of college in the fall, double majoring in music and aero/astro-engineering. However, for the moment, all four are focused on the present and look forward to the June 24 show.

“Jammin’ Java is a great place,” Kristin said. “I think the show will appeal to anyone who wants to listen.”

Jammin’ Java co-owner Luke Brindley feels the same way.

“Ubervox has put on shows every few months here and always brings talented artists,” said Brindley. “The show is a nice variety of styles and talents. Ubervox does a great job of promoting women musicians in the D.C. area and we’re happy to be hosting them.”

Simon said that Ubervox not only helps benefit the musicians involved but the greater community as well.

“It does things in one fell swoop," said Simon. “It helps link artists together, provides performances for the community you don’t get everywhere, and you find a level of warm fuzzies you won’t find anywhere else.”