From songwriting to performing to integrating her musical inspiration into her modeling career, Wendy Starland pushes her passion into everything she does. It is that very passion and keen eye for talent that Wendy used to discover Lady Gaga. Yes, Starland is responsible for molding Stephanie Germotta into a star. But it is not just that she is known for. Not only was Wendy Starland honored by The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, but she was also named as VH1′s Best Emerging Artists. In addition she has a strong tour resume including performing with everyone from Lady GaGa & Mike Posner, to the Foo Fighters. I had a chance to chat with Starland about her Gaga discovery and working with the pop star, the success she’s achieved so far and more!
DANITY DONNALY: It is so fabulous to be able to chat with you Miss Wendy Starland! You have a plethora of talents. From songwriting to singing to modeling and more, I feel so honored to chat with you! Can you fill my readers in on how first you got into the business and who or what inspired you to pursue music as a career?
You are too kind! Thanks for the warm words. Although I had been singing and songwriting since I was a little girl, I had originally pursued oil painting as my career path…Until one night when I was invited by some friends to a Maceo Parker concert. Maceo was the lead sax player in James Brown’s band and they played the funkiest music in the world! It was a sold out show, but I managed to talk my way past the bouncer and moved up to the front row. It was epic. A few songs into the set Maceo grabbed me by the hand and pulled me on stage! I just danced around and had a blast while my friends cheered me on and then went back into the crowd.
Later on in the set, Maceo kept staring at me and pulled me up on stage for a second time! That never happens. When I hear music I love, I typically start singing to myself softly and I started doing that on stage. The trombone player heard me and then placed his microphone in front of my mouth. I started harmonizing with Maceo and ended up scatting my own improvised song for 20 minutes! The audience went nuts. When I was done, Maceo’s bass player got down on one knee as if he were proposing, took a string off of his bass guitar and coiled it up around my ring finger.
He hushed the crowd and said into the mic, “Wendy you have a gift from God. You must devote your life to music or else you will deprive the world of something so special.” I got the chills. I made the decision in that moment to switch my focus from painting to music forever.
DANITY: Wow, I can imagine that was one of those moments that will live with you forever. Now Wendy, you have accomplished quite a bit in your career thus far including being THE person to discover Lady Gaga. Can you explain how that all went down?
STARLAND: I first met Lady GaGa when she was just Stefani Germanotta. She was working as an intern for Irwin Robinson at Famous Music Publishing. I had met with Irwin about potentially doing a publishing deal for my catalog of songs. Stefani was instructed to make copies of my CD and press kit to send out to the other branches of the company and became a fan of my music. She was always friendly and said that she used to listen to my song “Stolen Love” on repeat.
I had been working with a producer who was interested in finding a girl under 25 who could be the female equivalent to the lead singer of The Strokes. He told me that if I could find the right person, we could work together to develop her talent and split the profits equally. I agreed. Stefani and I happened to be performing on the same bill one night at The Cutting Room in New York City. I was surprised because I had no idea she was an artist since I had only seen her conservatively dressed in an office environment at that point. After seeing her perform, I was really impressed with her bold energy on stage. You couldn’t take your eyes off of her (and this was before the outrageous costumes.)
I went up to her after the show and said “I’m about to change your life forever” and did just that. We spent the next year and a half to two years creating the Lady GaGa project.
DANITY: Amazing. And not many people know that. It’s like Gaga just suddenly appeared on the music scene and what people don’t realize is the intense work that goes on behind-the-scenes before a star is actually launched publicly. So, did you get to work alongside Gaga at all, whether it be lyrically or in the studio?
STARLAND: Yes, of course! We worked together regularly writing songs, strategizing, creating the marketing, imaging, name, performance and branding. It was a ton of work!
DANITY: I bet! So were you surprised to hear of Gaga’s rise to fame?
STARLAND: I’m not surprised at all by GaGa’s rise to fame at all and feel so proud that all of the work we put in resulted in such a great success.
DANITY: That’s awesome. You have got to be pretty proud to be such an integral part of Gaga’s rise to stardom. In addition to being a singer and songwriter, you are also a model. And you are absolutely gorgeous, I must say! What I find unique about you is that you revolve your modeling around your music, which is an interesting combo. How do you incorporate your modeling into your music and vice versa?
STARLAND: Because my music is more classic than trendy stylistically, there is a natural fit for brands to be able to tell their stories with my image and music as the soundtrack. I only model for companies that I truly believe in, and whose products I use all the time. Pink Pump is one of my favorites. Their clothing and shoes are so chic and versatile. The fashion show for the launch of Tawny Thieu’s new line, P2, was unreal.
Besides modeling for them, my record label, Give Back Entertainment and the North Pointe Green Foundation, embarked on a campaign to make a difference for the Make-A -Wish Foundation. A percentage of the profits from my single “Garden Of Temptation” is going directly to the Make-A-Wish Kids. Two of the Make-A-Wish Kids even walked the runway for the Pink Pump fashion show! The single is available with purchase at Pink Pump stores http://www.shoppinkpump.com. I love watching what a difference music can make in people’s lives!
DANITY: What is your favorite part of the musical process (writing, performing, studio work)? Where do you get inspiration for your lyrics?
STARLAND: Hard to choose…I love it all! I feel so lucky to be able to spend my life making music. I draw inspiration from my everyday life. The little things and the big things. Life lessons. My friends, family, and my love. It’s very authentic and I aim to always keep it that way.
DANITY: Everyone has an idol or an inspiration. Who do you look up to as an artist?
STARLAND: Sting is my favorite. I am so impressed by how he has been able to become a commercial success while maintaining his musical integrity. He is a very intellectual songwriter, experimenting with time signatures and jazz chord progressions that are seamlessly integrated into a Pop format. It’s a difficult feat that he has mastered exquisitely. I am lucky to have met him several times and he is as kind and charismatic as he is talented.
DANITY: Out of all your accolades so far, what are you most proud of?
STARLAND: I am most proud of being honored by The Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame for my song, “Dancing With The Sea.” It’s a dream for any songwriter and I feel extremely grateful. I’m also really proud of my most current project Give Back Entertainment http://www.givebackent.com.
Give Back Entertainment is a record label and marketing platform. We believe that the bond between music and its cause is an important part of the solution to creating a more peaceful, better world. That’s why a percentage from all of our music goes directly to charity. GBE artists are on a charitable mission to donate $1 billion dollars to those who need it most.
DANITY: Who would be your dream collaboration?
STARLAND: My dream collaboration would be with Sting and Bono. Both such powerful artists that really stand for something meaningful. They are true trailblazers.
I was lucky enough to tour throughout Europe last year and plan to return soon. I performed with renown Conductor, Luisella Chiarini, and the ACO Val Vibrata Symphony Orchestra in Italy. It was the experience of a lifetime and now Luisella and I will be teaming up again to perform with other symphonies in South America this year. I am extremely excited!
DANITY: What do you like to do outside of music and modeling? Hobbies?
STARLAND: I love the beach, sailing, painting, drawing and dancing!
DANITY: Where can people find you online?
STARLAND: People can find me at http://www.wendystarland.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WendyStarlandMusic
DANITY: Thanks so much Wendy! Best of luck to you with everything. You are a true diamond in the rough.