New Orleans-based rhythm, blues and soul artist Maggie Belle lives far from an average life. As an ICU nurse by day and soul singer by night, Belle has found a way to balance (and succeed) in her two passions. Today, she’s launched the title track music video, directed by Sasha Solodukhina, from her recent album, Starting Anew –  The song began as a poem, discussing love both lost and gained, but slowly transformed into a multi-meaning anthem after Belle navigated the mental, physical and emotional hardships working through the COVID-19 pandemic and coming out with a new mindset.

Belle – in collaboration with keyboardist Brian Scheller – began working together as a duo in 2013. After many years of writing and performing select songs, they began recording their first full-length studio album under Maggie Belle – Starting Anew – in New Orleans in 2019. But, when the pandemic hit in 2020, they decided to slow down, refocus and take their time perfecting the project. Belle began turning to her music as a method of healing through the uncertainty and sadness she was experiencing while working in the ICU. “Starting Anew” was chosen as the album’s title track to represent both the growth and progression of their music and of Belle and Scheller as individuals.

We sat down with the multi-faceted artist to learn more about her music.

Photography by Noe Cungy

When did you develop your passion for music? Growing up my mom had a big influence on my taste in music. My mom would play anything from Parliament Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone, and The Temptations to The Band, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. I didn’t discover my voice or my place in music until I was in high school, when my two girlfriends suggested I sing in their basement band. We called ourselves Maggie Belle and the Smells after we recorded a cover of Archie Bell and the Drells’ famous song, “Tighten Up”. It was all just for fun until I realized how much I enjoyed singing and the release it brought me, so I kept singing and found my voice.

Tell us about your recent album, Starting Anew. When did you begin working on this album? Starting Anew is a culmination of songs Brian and I have been working on together since 2017. Many of the songs have gone through various transformations over the years, and with the help of producer Eric Heigle, they settled into their final form in a beautiful way to create this album. We started recording the album in July 2019 and officially released it into the world in April 2022.

How do you describe your music style? Who are your major music inspirations? Vocally, I am heavily influenced by the blues, both emotionally and stylistically. I gained inspiration from Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Esther Phillips, and Billie Holiday. Musically, Brian and I gain inspiration from so many genres of music, from Rhythm & Blues to Soul to Pop, and I feel that is reflected in the songs we write together displayed on this album.

ICU Nurse by day and musician by night – how did working during the COVID 19 pandemic impact the creation of your album? Music has always been a creative and emotional release of the beauty and pain I experience as a bedside nurse. Having this music and this album to focus on, outside of what was going on in the world and in the hospital, during the pandemic gave this album purpose and meaning that I had never imagined and helped me heal in the process.

Photography by Noe Cungy
Photography by Noe Cungy
Photography by Noe Cungy

Where did you draw inspiration from when creating the “Starting Anew” music video? Sasha Solodukhina and Sarah Vandermeer are the creative forces behind the stunning visuals in the “Starting Anew” music video. I have seen their work in previous projects, and I sought them out to create something special for this song. I sent them the song and the lyrics, and I let them do what they do best! They created a visual landscape and dream world where this song truly comes to life.

Both your album and music video were recorded/filmed in New Orleans – tell us about your experience working in New Orleans and the local team members that helped bring your visions to life. New Orleans is where I started my career as a nurse and found my heart and soul in music. I have grown so much in this city over the years and am forever grateful for the people I have had the opportunity to learn from and work with here, as a nurse and as a musician. This music video and album was made possible by so many local artists, musicians, and creatives. I couldn’t be more grateful to live in a city that embraces music, art, and culture in such a way that inspires me and cultivates so much creative collaboration within the community.

Check out the music video for “Starting Anew” below!


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