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Singer-songwriter is a chip off her father's Silver Bullet rock
Music is ingrained in Victoria Reed's DNA. And she certainly never entertained the idea of doing anything else.
But it did take the Grosse Pointe-raised singer and songwriter -- whose debut album, "Chariot," came out Friday, Feb. 26 -- a minute to find her path.
"It's a funny thing to kind of be singing and writing songs your whole life but never really having anything to fully show for it," Reed, 26, says by phone from Brooklyn, where she's lived since 2013. "I've been touring a lot over the past couple of years, and people have been like, 'Where can we get your music?' and you have to shrug your shoulders and go, 'Well, you can't...'
"So it's nice. I feel like it's actually real and solidified now, which makes me very happy."
Reed's had the music bug "from as far back as I can remember," and there's certainly a reason for that. She's the younger daughter of Alto Reed, saxophonist in Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band, and music was a fixture in the family home. "I was definitely influenced by the way my dad and my mom would talk about Seger and his songwriting and all the other greats. They always really emphasized the songwriting element and how important it was," recalls Reed, who attended Grosse Pointe Academy, University Liggett School and Grosse Pointe South High School.
"My sister and I were both singing and writing songs, just kind of as a natural form of expression. We just had doing it from a very young age, like early elementary school. My sister started first and I saw her getting attention and I thought, 'Hey, I can write songs too!"
Reed's sister Chelsea is an agent with the Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, but neither of the girls felt pushed into music or the entertainment business.
"It's one of those things where along the way I wished they had pushed me," Reed says now. "'Why didn't you make me stick wtih piano! They they were supportive as any parent can be, and they let us find it for ourselves." Seeing her father perform with Seger when she was six years old made an impact, however. "That was a pretty biggish deal," she remembers with a laugh. "On some level you hear the songs on the radio and my dad was doing the national anthem for the (sports) teams, but when I saw that first show I was like, 'Whoa! My God! Alright!!'"
Reed still wasn't fully committed to making music even after she entered college DePaul University in Chicago to study philosophy. "I figured, 'I'm gonna do music eventually; I might as well do something that's interesting now,'" she says. "It was an incredibly irresponsible, incredibly expensive way to bide time." Her studies did, however, give Reed "a lifetime of songwriting material," though immersing herself in the various teachings and disciplines also served to derail her a bit.
"I did have a moment where the ground sort of dropped out from under me. It was a total, archetypal dark night of the soul moment," Reed acknowledges. "It was something I brought upon myself by thinking about things too much. I didn't get myself into any trouble, but I felt very lost and more confused than I ever knew I could." She came through it via support from friends and family, meditation and just time, and the silver lining was a deeper connection to -- and confidence in -- the songs she was writing.
"I reached a point where I felt like 'I'll wrote about whatever the hell I want to write about, 'cause I've seen some (stuff)'," Reed says.
There were other signs as well -- among them a tarot card reading in her Wicker Park apartment where she turned up the Death card followed by the future card -- the Chariot. "It's one of the most triumphant and favorable cards you can have," she says. "It's all about balancing opposing forces and coming out of something stronger than you ever could have imagined. It was like the calvary coming to your rescue."
The horse she wound up riding came in the form of Gary Waldman, a veteran music manager who'd befriended Reed at concerts by singer-songwriter Citizen Cope, who he also manages. Waldman didn't know Reed was a songwriter until she began posting demos online, but when he heard her material Waldman took immediate interest.
"I thought, 'There's some promise here.' You could tell there was a certain something going on," he says. Waldman brought Reed to New York and set her up in the studio with seasoned musicians -- one of whom, keyboardist Eric Deutsch, is now her fiance -- and the "Chariot" ride was quickly underway.
"It didn't take long at all," Waldman says. "Within 10 to 15 minutes we were recording the song 'Chariot,' the version that's right on the record. All these kind of grizzled New York studio guys were like, 'She's really good. Where did she come from?' She's just a very positive spirit, and pretty fearless."
Driven by rich melodies and diverse styles -- from the anthemic title track to the jazzy "I Love You" and rootsy tracks such as "Moonsong," "Spare Heart" and "Make It Easy" -- the "Chariot" album is released on Reed's own Botanica label, with national distribution. She opted to drop out of DePaul just a semester shy of graduating but she has no regrets, and now she's looking forward to getting her career rolling in earnest with "Chariot" -- and whatever comes next.
"I write a lot," says Reed, who will perform as part of the 25th Annual Detroit Music Awards on April 29 at the Fillmore Detroit. "I'm actually getting kind of anxious; 'Omigod, this new record is coming out. I want to start making my next record,' but my manager and everybody are like, 'Don't worry.'
"But I do write a lot. I definitely don't have to force it. It's natural for me and it helps me so much. It's easy to be prolific at something when it brings you so much release and so much comfort. I can be freaking out about something and feel so sad I can't believe it, so then I'll write and song and it's like 'Alright! Let's party!' That's great motivation."
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