Janice Lacy Project’s first release, Sanctuary for the Soul, debuted at #8 on the Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Radio Airplay Chart for January, 2017, and was in the top ten for two months, staying on the chart for a total of five months. The title track, “Sanctuary for the Soul”, was nominated for “Track of the Year Award 2016” by One World Music Radio, where it placed second in voting. The album was also nominated for “Best Piano with Instrumentation Album of 2016” by OWMR. The album peaked at #5 on the One World Music Radio Top 100 chart, and spent seven consecutive months on that chart, and has also been in the top ten on many domestic new age radio airplay charts.
Regarding the gentle, melodic, instrumental music on the album Sanctuary for the Soul, Lacy says, “I want my music to serve as a sanctuary, a refuge, a place of safety, peace, healing and joy, where listeners can go when they need to escape from the pressures and stress of the world around them.”
For this recording, Los Angeles-based pianist and composer Janice Lacy joined forces with several of Southern California’s top musicians — pianist and keyboardist Rob Mullins (who also arranged and produced the album), cellist Jeness, bassist Larry Antonino, and drummer and percussionist Tony Braunagel. “It was a joint effort, so we decided to call the group the Janice Lacy Project,” explains Lacy. Their album collaboration contains 14 songs, all composed by Lacy, including a couple of solo piano pieces, numerous piano-cello duets, and a few numbers with the sound augmented by bass, drums, percussion or synthesizer. The music has strong appeal to lovers of new age music as well as the genres of neo-classical and gentle-jazz.
Lacy studied classical music for many years, including eight years of classical repertoire and theory with Joe Weisberg (Erich Leinsdorf, Frank Murphy), and in-depth analysis of the musical scores for many classic operas with members of the San Francisco Opera Company. With her producer Rob Mullins, she also studied jazz and improvisation.
Rob Mullins, in addition to being a multi-genre producer, is an esteemed Grammy®-nominated jazz recording artist with 30 albums. He has worked with Hubert Laws, The Crusaders, The Rippingtons, Dave Grusin, Branford Marsalis, Kirk Whalum and many other top jazz acts. Jeness has toured the world performing with James Taylor, Kenny Loggins, K.D. Lang and the La Scala Quartet. Larry Antonino, a member of Pablo Cruise, has recorded with Barry Manilow, Ronnie Laws, Air Supply and Shelby Lynne. Tony Braunagel has worked with Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Taj Mahal, Bette Midler and Eric Burdon, among many others. Consulting producer Greg Scelsa also is a Grammy®-nominated artist (Greg and Steve).
Janice began playing piano when she was 3 years old, and began composing music when she was 15. In addition to classical music, Lacy was influenced when she was young by popular and jazz music, and the folk music that was indigenous to her native Ohio. “I have always liked a wide diversity of musical styles. Later I went through a period of studying the music of operas because it is very lyrical and melody-oriented and dramatic because it helps tell the story, and I learned how to incorporate some of that into my own music.”
Lacy was also influenced by new age pianists George Winston, David Lanz and David Nevue, and by Will Ackerman’s work. “I was inspired by these artists, and realized as I composed that I kept returning to the new age genre as a way to express myself.”
“I wrote the music for Sanctuary for the Soul over the past few years,” states Lacy. “It was sort of an explosion of music for me. I felt I threw off the restrictions of playing strict traditional classical music which stresses interpretation and technique. I embraced the freedom and improvisation of new age and jazz. I felt free to express however I felt when I sat down at the piano which meant the music might be happy or sad or introspective or spiritual. My goal was to be able to impart those emotions with my melodies, and also have the music be gentle, relaxing and peaceful, to soothe and nurture the listener.”