With a new single and upcoming SpeakEZ show, the Grand Rapids teen found herself in the spotlight for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks this week by several other Michigan acts.
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Suffice to say, 17-year-old indie-pop singer-songwriter Sophia McIntosh was predestined for life as a musician.
Raised by parents who performed for decades with the wildly popular Michigan cover band, Drop 35, McIntosh started playing piano at age 4 and began exploring her own songs several years later with their encouragement.
“I really just wanted to go my own way and start making my own music, and that’s what I did,” said the Jenison keyboardist who has released several singles and fronts her rock-propelled pop band, The Sages.
“I would consider it to be pop singer-songwriter, low-key, very chill music that anyone I think will get – kids, adults, anyone. … It’s absolutely taken up a notch and we hit it a little harder for the band performances.”
That’s an understatement. Sophia McIntosh & The Sages’ electrifying performance at Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Café that kicked off last September’s Sounds of the Zoo festival in Kalamazoo turned plenty of heads and had everyone on hand buzzing.
The talented young outfit – McIntosh, drummer Will Murphy, guitarist Will Gavan and bassist Gino Bartone – intends to do that again on Wednesday night (Jan. 24) at SpeakEZ Lounge in downtown Grand Rapids for the Local Spins Wednesdays series. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. with an opening set by Grand Rapids tunesmith Cole Hansen. Details here.
“It’s going to be awesome,” McIntosh predicted. “It should be a really cool experience.”
To date, McIntosh’s “cool experiences” have always revolved around music, so much so that she’s already a full-time musician after spending some time at the Kalamazoo Academy of Rock, where she met future members of The Sages.
Inspired. not surprisingly, by “really big powerhouse voices” such as Adele, Lady Gaga and Lauren Daigle, McIntosh boasts a seasoned attitude beyond her years while releasing more than a dozen singles since 2022. Last year’s “Now You Made an Enemy” racked up about 50,000 listens on Spotify alone.
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, McIntosh showcased that track and debuted her brand new single, “Good Times Aren’t Gone.” Watch a video of Sophia McIntosh & The Sages performing “Set Me Free” here and scroll down to listen to the full radio show podcast, including the new single.
VIDEO: Sophia McIntosh & The Sages, “Set Me Free”
Even though she’s still a teen, McIntosh has years of stage performances under her belt after playing in a wide variety of musicals at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and elsewhere, including “Annie,” “Mary Poppins” and “Freaky Friday.”
As for her songwriting, the music needs “to have something that connects to me,” she said. “I usually start with something that means a lot to me and I sit down at the piano, write the melody and I write the lyrics off the melody.”
In the coming year, McIntosh hopes to release a new single every month, “try to keep going, keep making those numbers climb up.” She also intends to perform monthly through 2024, following up next week’s SpeakEZ appearance with February shows at Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm in Grand Rapids and New Holland Brewery in Battle Creek.
“It is totally a leap of faith for any musician who ’s in my position. You hope for one thing, but you don’t always know if it’s going to turn out that way,” she reasoned.
“But I’m just going to keep trucking away, keep working, keep putting my music out there, keep performing. And I am hoping within the next few years that I can start making it big, whatever that means.”
Beyond spotlighting McIntosh, this week’s episode of Local Spins on WYCE – which focuses on Michigan-made music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – featured tracks by Prior Noon, Chirp, Celeste Allison, The Westside, Evolve Sound, LVNDR, Nathan Walton & The Remedy, The Wire Monkeys and Deerfield Run. Listen to the show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (1/19/24)
PHOTO GALLERY: Sophia McIntosh at Midtown “Open Stage”