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Lily’s In Bloom

Meola performs with country music legend Willie Nelson | Courtesy photo

Meola performs with country music legend Willie Nelson | Courtesy photo

Fresh off a tour with Willie Nelson, budding talent Lily Meola says she’s ready to get back on the road again

Up-and-coming artist Lily Meola is doing a lot of smiling these days. You would be doing the same too if you had just finished touring with one of country music’s legends, or if one of pop music’s extraordinary record producers just got through putting the finishing touches on tracks for your forthcoming debut album.

But that’s exactly what life has been like lately for this songstress from Ku’au, Maui. Indeed, everything seems to be coming up lillies for this budding talent.

This fall, Meola completed a 10-show East Coast swing with Willie Nelson, opening for “The Red Headed Stranger” in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and New York, where she sang a duet with him at Farm Aid 2013 in Saratoga Springs. Along the way, she also signed off on “a few original songs written for me” and produced by Bob Rock, who staked his claim to fame on acts such as Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Metallica, The Cult and Motley Crue.

She’s even had a recent sitdown meeting with Verve Music Group chairman and Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster, who’s directed many well-known artists – Christina Aguilera, The Bee Gees, Chicago, Hall & Oates, Beyonce Knowles, Rod Stewart and Barbra Streisand, to name just a few – over the years, although no record deal with Verve is imminent.

Still, she’s tickled to be hobnobbing with the best. “I feel so lucky to be having all this happen to me,” says Meola of her good fortune, which includes private party performances on the Valley Isle with Steven Tyler (“We got together and sang the Beatles’ Come Together,” she says.), Orianthi, Alice Cooper, and Michael McDonald and Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers.

And to think that none of this would have happened had Meola – whose vocal stylings remind the younger generation of Ingrid Michaelson and Nora Jones, and the older generation of Ella Fitzgerald and Joni Mitchell – not taken the chance and auditioned for the play Man of La Mancha.

“That was back in the sixth grade while I was at Waldorf School. You know I always wanted to be a singer, but it was the play that convinced me that I could really do this – be a singer and all,” the 19-year-old vocalist tells me. “That was the spark I needed to pursue this life.”

Here’s what else Meola told Musical Notes about her fledgling career:

MN: How did you meet Willie?

LM: Growing up on Maui, my family got to know his family well. My brother and his son Lukas did homeschooling together, and my mom Nancy and his wife are friends. One day, my mom invited Willie’s wife to a show of mine and I guess Willie liked what he heard.

MN: What was it like recording the duet Will You Remember Mine with Willie for his latest album, To All the Girls …?

LM: Incredible! I flew out to Austin, Texas and recorded the song in just 40 minutes. I was expecting to be there for hours. But Willie is such a professional, and he helped me get my part done quickly. It was amazing!

MN: Do you have any upcoming gigs here on Oahu?

LM: Yes. I’ll be performing at the Surfer the Bar, Turtle Bay Resort, Dec. 8. I’ll also be doing a sit-in with Lukas Nelson at Surfer the Bar Dec. 5.

MN: You seemed to enjoy touring with Willie. Would it be accurate to say that you can’t wait to get on the road again.

LM: Oh, yeah. I love the road. In fact, I really wish I could be there now. I’m ready.