If there’s a Venn diagram to describe the sound of pop singer-songwriter Josie Dunne, it would have intersecting circles of Carly Rae Jepsen, Stevie Wonder and Sara Bareilles.
It speaks to Dunne’s upbringing in a suburb of Chicago, growing up on Motown and doo-wop while performing Top 40 covers in bars when she was a teenager. She managed to merge it all together into a cohesive sound and energetic show.
“I feel like I learned a lot in those early, early days, doing those bar gigs where people don’t even want to listen to music ... But to pull them in and turn it into a concert, that was the goal,” she said.
With an EP and several singles under her belt, including the jangly throwback “Old School” and the hormone-fueled, bass-heavy “Mute,” Dunne is winning crowds over with her own material. She’ll perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Riot Room in Kansas City. K.C. electronic band Jaenki will open.
Trying to win over crowds in Chicago, Dunne said there was a loving toughness to the process that can only be found in the Midwest.
“The community was so strong. Like everybody was so supportive of me doing music. Like, just me being myself, doing my own thing and trying to chase my dreams,” she said.
The past year has been an education for Dunne, opening for artists and fellow singer-songwriters like Andy Grammer and Julia Michaels, who balances performing with writing songs for Keith Urban, Shawn Mendes and Fifth Harmony.
“That entire (Julia Michaels) experience was the highlight of the year. I just feel like I learned so much about the show and writing and being on the road. It really brought these songs to life,” Dunne says.
In 2018, Dunne released her debut EP, “To Be A Little Fish.” Since then, it’s been a steady stream of one-off singles and collaborations, like the massive “Sunday Morning” with electronic artist Matoma, which garnered more than 21 million streams on Spotify. This is all according to plan, Dunne said, as she wants to slowly introduce herself to her fans and new audiences.
“I think it’s more valuable for me to be doing like ‘Here’s a song. Here’s a song. Here’s a song.’ They’re all like little pieces of who I am instead of one giant 12-song (album),” she said.
With each single comes a new music video that reveals Dunne’s personality: charming, bubbly and bursting with color and energy. Her shows are the same way, with her jumping around onstage, sometimes busting out her skills on the guitar and trumpet.
“Especially because this is going to be my first headlining show ever in Kansas City, I want this to be the biggest dance party. Especially because the room is going to be sweaty and packed, I just want to be jumping and everybody’s having fun,” she said.
Tickets to Dunne’s show are $10 to $12. They are available by calling 816-442-8179 or going to theriotroom.com.
— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live