By Tanner Kent
---- — Many have sung the praises of Alison Scott, the Twin Cities songstress who's cut an increasingly wide and soulful swath through the heart of Minnesota's music landscape.
Chris Roberts of Minnesota Public Radio said Scott's is a "soaring, agile voice." The Pioneer Press' Ross Raihala similarly touted her vocals as embodying "pure, jaw-dropping soul."
On stage, she exudes the kind of confidence befitting a musician heaped with such superlatives. Behind her keyboard and flanked by the only band she's ever known — which happens to be led by none other than two-time Grammy-winning Minnesota musician Kevin Bowe — Scott's demeanor is as composed as her rich, honeyed contralto.
But in the supermarket, toting her newborn daughter, she admits she's not above begging for applause.
"I'm a fairly introverted in person in real life," said Scott, who returns to Mankato on Sunday as part of the Minnesota State Department of Music's Performance Series. Bowe and the Okemah Prophets will open the concert that marks the second time in as many years that Scott and Bowe have been on the Performance Series lineup.
"I don't take a lot of crazy risks. But now when I go out in public, it's incredible how much more willing I am to make a fool of myself. I mean, I'll be walking through the supermarket making up these ridiculous songs just to keep her entertained."
After a short maternity leave in the spring for her daughter's birth, Scott has returned to the performance trail with zeal. Though, that shouldn't be surprising.
Ever since she was the unexpected winner of a songwriting contest in 2005 — of which Bowe was a judge (and has remained her musical partner ever since) — Scott has proven herself a tenacious and perseverant performer.
She's candid about the struggles she had early on as a soul singer in a market that prides itself on counter-culture and indie rock. But she kept singing, becoming a regular performer at The Dakota — where she's sold out more than a dozen shows — and opening for Bon Jovi and Chris Isaak. She played to a packed house at The Fitzgerald Theater in 2010 when she released her critically praised "Chinese Whispers" and toured the state in 2012 with a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
After a three-month layoff, Scott began performing again in June, returning to reviews like this one that appeared in the Minnesota Daily following a concert The Dakota: "It was hard not to notice the adverts for Macy Gray’s performances the next two nights and even harder not to think, 'So what?' after Scott’s bombshell voice demolished the cozy confines."
Such praise, Scott said, has gone a long way in allaying the concerns she had about stepping away in the first place.
"I had this fear about going on maternity leave," she said. "I'd never taken this much time off and I just wondered, 'Are people going to forget about us?' I think we went three months without a gig. To me, it was completely terrifying. But we've been back at it now for a little while and, no, we didn't forget how to do it."
Scott said she's presently in the stages of completing a holiday album and an accompanying concert tour. The album, she said, will include traditional selections as well as originals. Following the holiday season, Scott said she and the band will also be nearing completion on a third album of original songs.
For more information about Scott and her music, visit alisonscott.com.
If You Go What Alison Scott, with Kevin Bowe and the Okemah Prophets When 7:30 p.m. on Sunday Where Elias J. Halling Recital Hall of MSU's Earley Center for Performing Arts, 320 Maywood Avenue. Tickets $15, $13 for students, available at the door. Purchase online at www.mnsu.edu/music, or call 507-389-5549.