IF YOU GO
What: Nightfall concert series featuring Elizabeth and the Catapult.
When: 8 p.m. today; The Culprits open at 7 p.m.
Where: Miller Plaza, corner of M.L. King Boulevard, Cherry and Market streets.
2006: “Elizabeth and the Catapult”
2009: “Taller Children”
2010: “The Other Side of Zero”
Singer/songwriter Elizabeth Zinman said she draws a great deal of inspiration from being on the move, which is why she’s looking forward to spending most of her time on the road this year. She has compiled material for a new album but said she has no release date in mind.
Zach Blount, Will Evans and Nick Evans are The Culprits, an indie pop trio from Sewanee, Tenn., who cite The Kooks, The Strokes and The Police among their influences. For more information, visit their website at www.theculpritsmusic.com.
Whether she’s poking fun at the idea of a “perfect” relationship or shooing away men expecting her to soothe their emotional scraped knees, Elizabeth Zinman aims for her music to be both potent and poignant.
The New York-based pop singer said she feels compelled to compose, so her work should at least brush greater truths, whether in the form of musical larks or songs with emotional weight.
“All the artists I know try to create something that kind of sticks, that means something to us, and we hope it means something to somebody else,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re just doing this because we don’t have a choice.”
Zinman last toured the South in 2010 in support of Sara Bareilles. She’ll be returning tonight as the headliner of the second week of the Nightfall Concert Series.
Growing up in Greenwich Village, Zinman studied piano and was heavily influenced by composers such as Claude Debussy and Chopin as well as artists including Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, courtesy of her father’s record collection.
Zinman didn’t begin singing until she was drafted as a backing vocalist for R&B/jazz singer Patti Austin while studying film composition at Berklee College. She was later encouraged to write her own songs by her — then-unknown — bassist, Esperanza Spalding.
At first, Zinman said, she struggled to find her own voice.
“I literally sound like I want to be Erykah Badu on my first couple of songs,” she said. “I don’t think I had lived enough to write about anything. I didn’t have Fiona Apple’s maturity at 16.”
Over time, however, she said she’s become more in tune with herself. Now, Zinman said, music is a way of unloading emotional baggage — or just laughing at herself — usually while sharing a story.
Whatever her approach, good songs manage to do a few things effectively, she said.
“If it’s really, really simple and sounds effortless but is very potent — says a lot in a few words — and is memorable somehow, that’s a good song to me,” she said. “Also, it has to be honest.”
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...