Updated: Jul 28
Since May's Open Mic Night (Thursday, May 25th | 7pm - 10pm) is all about female singer/songwriters, we thought it would be fun to feature one of our favorite female musicians in this blog post! So we sat down to chat with singer/songwriter, longtime friend of CSSMA, and May Open Mic Night Host Abby Payne!
Below, Abby discusses her songwriting beginnings, her career, and the women in music who most inspire her.
Watch Abby Payne performing her original song "But I Do" with Arri Lawton Simon live at Feinstein's/54 Below. Paul Maddison (guitar), Chris Anderson (bass), Kenny Shaw (drums), & JP Schlegelmilch (Keys)
Abby has been expressing herself through words since she was young “I grew up wanting to write books, and music was always a big part of my life, so [songwriting] seemed a natural progression.” She wrote her first song when she was a Jazz student at Purchase College, “[I] debuted it at a campus event called “Women Out Loud”. I’ve been hooked ever since!”
Authenticity is at the heart of Abby’s songwriting process, and she always strives to honor her unique creative voice and experiences through her work.
“Early in my career, it seemed like there was a lot of pressure to sound like “the next” someone or other (in my case, it was often Norah Jones). It was always important to me to sound like ME and not let industry pressures and trends influence my work. I know that if the song doesn’t feel “true” to me, then it’s not really good. And that takes the joy out of it.”
Abby has released four full length albums featuring her original music (and is currently working on a fifth!), an EP, and multiple singles. Abby also wrote the book, music, and lyrics for an original musical titled ‘The Gunfighter Meets His Match’ which was selected for the 2018 New York Musical Festival. Portions of the show have also been performed at HERE Arts, Joe's Pub, and Playwright's Horizons.
Watch vocalist Shara Radin perform "Those Eyes" from the 2018 New York Musical Festival run of Abby's
original musical ‘The Gunfighter Meets His Match’.
When asked which female singer/songwriter most inspires her, Abby immediately mentioned Fiona Apple. Citing her not only as a songwriting influence, but also a large reason why she studied the piano so diligently in high school and college. “I think her music is just so unique and honest.”
Her favorite album by Apple is “When the Pawn…” (1999) which she describes as a masterpiece, and her favorite song is “Paper Bag”. “Lyrically, it’s poignant, clever, and sometimes a little funny. But also you can dance to it! She’s a rare artist who marries amazing, storytelling lyrics with very creative melodies and musical landscapes that just feel so good.”
Paper Bag by Fiona Apple
Abby’s incredible songs and musical talents will be featured during tomorrow’s Open Mic Night (Thursday, May 25th), and we highly encourage you to come along, perform a song by your favorite female musicians, and enjoy a fun night out in Downtown NYC!
From Beyonce to Debbie Harry, and the late great Tina Turner, tomorrow evening will be packed with songs from the all-star women in music that we all love. All performances are backed by the CSSMA Live House Band which will feature: Kevin Hailey, Nancy Luduena, and Abby Payne.
Cover is $15 at the door and includes food and drinks! If you would like to perform, please email CSSMA Director of Programs and Production Tereza Lee at email@example.com with your song title and artist.
We hope you will join us from 7pm - 10pm in the performance space at 41 White Street!