IF YOU GO
What: Jaclyn Hodos, Asleep and The Sewing Machine War
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Westminster Church, 119 Stadium Drive, Boardman
Tickets: $5 at the door
119 Stadium Drive, Boardman Township
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Jaclyn Hodos made a great music-industry connection the very first time she went to Nashville.
She just didn’t know it at the time.
During a 2006 trip to Music City, the young singer and her family had a conversation with a gentleman they met at a stop they had made. That helpful man was Larry Paxton — and he was surprised to learn that Hodos was also from his hometown of Youngstown. He offered Hodos tickets to the Grand Ole Opry.
It wasn’t until Hodos got back home that she realized just whom she had met. Paxton is a Youngstown native who has been working for decades in Nashville, where he is held in highest regard as a musician. He is the house bass player at the famed Grand Ole Opry and is one of the top-echelon session players in Music Row studios.
So Hodos reconnected with Paxton and had him critique her work. He wound up working with Hodos this summer, as the singer made multiple trips to Nashville to record an album.
Paxton co-produced and arranged the songs on Hodos’ newly released EP, “The Show Must Go On,” which already has sold about 400 copies.
“Being originally from the Youngstown area, I’m often approached by local writers and artists to evaluate their material,” said Paxton in a news release. “Upon listening to [Hodos’] vocals, I thought, ‘She needs to get into the studio now!’”
A six-song effort, “The Show Must Go On” is essentially Hodos’ debut work. The 22-year-old’s only other recording was an album of traditional Christmas songs made in 2005.
“I was a little bit nervous but not intimidated,” she said about her Nashville experience. “It was the first time I’ve recorded with a live band, and it was an honor and a treat to work with such great musicians.”
The new album reveals a commanding, grown-up vocalist with catchy songs. Hodos and Bruce Wallace of Ole Songs, a Nashville publishing company, co-wrote the tunes, including the very radio-friendly “You Said.”
Unlike many budding artists’ first efforts, the songs on “The Show Must Go On” are impeccably arranged, played and recorded — a tribute to the music powerhouses that worked on the record. Gilles Godard of Ole was the other co-producer.
Hodos is pleased with the sure-footed product but knows it’s just the first step in her career. Working with pros in Nashville was a rare opportunity — but just the beginning, she said.
Although Nashville is a mecca for all types of music, it’s most closely associated with country. But Hodos doesn’t want to be classified as a country singer.
The Boardman native sees herself as more of a concert-stage singer along the lines of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston or Christina Aguilera, with pop songs that emphasize her voice.
After she graduates from Youngstown State University in May, Hodos plans to pursue a music career. “I just know a door will open,” she said. “If I need to move to Nashville, I will.”
In the meantime, Mahoning Valley fans can catch her this Friday at a show she’s put together at Westminster Church in Boardman. Hodos will be performing along with two popular local rock acts — Asleep and The Sewing Machine War — in a concert that will benefit the American Heart Association.
It’s a cause that means a lot to Hodos. She had open-heart surgery as a 4-year-old, and her father underwent surgery in May to have stents put in because of heart disease.
“The Show Must Go On” can be purchased online at myspace.com/jmhodos and at the following Boardman locations: Cardsmart, Browns Drugs, Peaberry’s (Boardman and Youngstown locations), New York Music, Indie Wax and Tesone’s.