It’s one thing to see an artist lighting up stages in some of the biggest venues in the world. It’s entirely another to see them in more intimate settings – the only thing between them and the audience is an acoustic guitar or two and a sense of reverence.
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That was exactly the vibe set by the 2022 Live in the Vineyard presented by Visit Napa Valley last week as some of today’s top artists and burgeoning stars took to Napa Valley to perform for a “who’s who” selection of music supervisors, label execs and radio programmers.
Each of the individual events paired lush wine, delectable food, incredible music, and awe-inspiring backdrops. Our top seven moments from LITV are below, featuring Julian Lennon, Ingrid Andress and more.
1. When Wyn Starks Gave an Emotional Performance of “Who I Am”
The outdoor space of Hyde Estate Winery features a picture-perfect look out onto infinite rows of grapevines and the rolling hills of Napa Valley. During an early morning performance, soul up-and-comer Wyn Starks queued up the perfect soundtrack for such a scene – cinematic and rich tracks that showcased his soaring vocal range.
Performing “Who I Am,” as heard on season 17 of America’s Got Talent, he stood in front of the crowd, unabashed and self-assured. The poignant track serves as a reminder to anyone who hears it that there is strength in our individuality. That testament was well on display during LITV, starting the day off on a high note – both literally and figuratively.
2. When Julian Lennon Took Us Behind the Scenes of Jude
Julian Lennon released his latest studio effort, Jude, earlier this year, revisiting a wealth of older material. Though the majority of the songs on the LP were first started nearly 30 years ago, Lennon brought them back out at just the right time – breaking a seven-year musical hiatus.
For his appearance at LITV, Lennon took to the stage at Robert Mondavi Winery to chat about the origin of Jude. Having been titled after his childhood nickname (famed for The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”), the audience was given a peek into Paul McCartney’s influence on the younger Lennon that manifested itself within this LP, as well as his songwriting process and widespread philanthropic efforts. It was a joy to listen to the album with the man who made it as he uncovered all of Jude‘s secrets.
3. When Ingrid Andress Broke Our Hearts with “More Hearts Than Mine”
One advantage to acoustic sets is being able to hear stunning vocalists at their most pure. Ingrid Andress’ set at Chimney Rock Winery was one such moment. The country singer delivered powerful renditions of the Sam Hunt-assisted No. 1 single “Wishful Drinking,” clever “Seeing Someone Else,” and the affecting “More Hearts Than Mine.”
One of the most impressive things about Andress’ songwriting is her ability to approach her lyrics from unique vantage points. In “Seeing Someone Else,” she takes what many would assume is a track about infidelity and turns it into an ode to self-growth. Though her entire set pulled on our heartstrings it was “More Hearts Than Mine” that left the greatest mark. While breakup songs have been well explored, Andress channels her heartbreak through the lens of her family. She pierced through the barrel room with the line, Oh, if we break up, I’ll be fine / But you’ll be breaking more hearts than mine.
4. When Benson Boone Lulled the Crowd with “Ghost Town”
If you haven’t already, add Benson Boone to your radar. After appearing on American Idol last year, Boone has been consistently churning out stirring ballads that make his star shine a little brighter with each release. His warm, acrobatic vocals only bolster his appeal and, during his set at LITV, he proved he needed little assistance to sound just as rich as he does coming through your headphones.
At just 20-years-old, the singer displayed confidence usually only afforded to musicians with twice his experience. He backed it up though, playing through a handful of his current pop gems – notably “Ghost Town” and “Before You” – over a hushed crowd, sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for more.
5. When Mexican Pop Group Reik Stole the Show
For their 15th annual fest, LITV made the apt decision to bring on a host of Latinx artists. Mexican pop trio Reik’s appearance on the final night of the fest was a welcomed surprise. Hearing their crooning live at the Uptown Theatre Napa was a long-awaited treat.
Hailing from Baja, California, the group – Jesús Navarro, Julio Ramírez, and Gilberto Marín – have a mix of emotive ballads and reggaeton anthems that have both clinched their success with Spanish-speaking audiences and are currently developing a sense of cross-over appeal. Frontman Navarro’s vocals were something to behold while Ramírez’s finger-picking and Marín’s spacey guitar lines rounded out the trio.
6. When Justin Tranter Gave a Masterclass in Songwriting
When looking at songwriter Justin Tranter’s list of credits, it often seems like they have been serving the Top 10 charts for the past decade. To name a few: “Believer” (Imagine Dragons), “Sorry” (Justin Bieber), “Cake By The Ocean” (DNCE), “Lose You To Love Me” (Selena Gomez), “Centuries” (Fall Out Boy) and “Beyond” (Leon Bridges) – and that’s just scraping the top of the barrel.
Tranter took the stage on the last night of LITV at the Uptown Theatre Napa and did what they dubbed “a mix between a Ted Talk and a magic trick,” bringing a couple of audience members up on stage for a pseudo songwriting session. For the songwriter, the exercise mirrored Tranter’s actual songwriting process as they learned about the artist (or in the case of LITV, radio programmers and music supervisors) and pulled a chart-topping hit out of their story. By unveiling the routes they take in songwriting, the mystique behind Tranter’s seemingly untapped source of creativity was extended to the masses for a brief moment.
7. When Bebe Rexha Debuted New Songs
Bebe Rexha seems to never miss. Whether she’s donning her country cap alongside Florida Georgia Line or releasing club anthems like “I’m Good (Blue)” with David Guetta, success seems to be second nature to the Brooklyn native.
Those in attendance at LITV were gifted not one but two performances from Rexha that showcased her headlining status. Continuing her string of hits, the singer-songwriter debuted a suite of new tracks from her impending project, including the Fleetwood Mac-inspired “Heart Wants What It Wants” and the fiercely feminine “I Am.” Rexha revealed the tracks would be released sometime next year and, after hearing a sneak peek, waiting patiently will be a hard-won task.
Main Photo by Alec Savig / Courtesy of Aristo Media