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Savannah King Soars With Alphabet Project

Savannah King, A to Z

Suppose that you had to cover a different song once a week for 26 straight weeks. Even if you happen to be a professional musician, that’s certainly not an easy task.

Now, suppose that each week you had to cover a song starting with a different letter of the alphabet, going in order from A to Z. And you aren’t allowed to skip the difficult letters like “q” and “x” either. That seems just about impossible, right?

Well, that’s the task local musician Savannah King took on when she began the Alphabet Project, a weekly series of videos that has gained a strong following and considerably increased King’s profile. Having started in June, and ending in early December, King has made it her quest to cover a song starting with each different letter of the alphabet. So far, she has nine down and 17 to go, with her latest being a stirring rendition of Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.”

If you have suggestions for songs you’d like to see King try her hand, you’re too late—each song has already been selected. “I have all the songs planned out ahead of time,” King says. “I think part of the anticipation of the Alphabet Project is logging on every Sunday to see what song is chosen. People have really enjoyed guessing what I’m going to play for each letter.”

She does, however, admit that selecting a song for the letter “x” was one of the hardest parts of the process.

But even if King knows what’s going to happen ahead of time, the rest of us can expect to be thrown for a loop on a regular basis. While King primarily works in the folk genre, she has been known to cover songs from all sorts of surprising sources. Her acoustic cover of Black’s Sabbath’s “War Pigs” has become extremely popular, and was featured in a Buzzfeed article about unlikely cover tunes. This also holds true for her live shows, where Steve Miller’s “Fly Like An Eagle,” Katy Perry’s “E.T.,” and LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It” have all made regular appearances in the set list. The latter of which tends to draw the most raucous response from the crowd.

King’s penchant for curveball covers showed up the very first week of the Alphabet Project, when the letter “A” was represented by the Smashing Pumpkins 1998 hit “Ava Adore.” Not the first song you’d expect from a folkie, nor one of the first five songs you’d expect for a Smashing Pumpkins cover, but her heartfelt rendition went over extremely well, and started the project off on a booming note.

Another decidedly un-folk selection for the project was her rendition of the Black Keys’ smash hit “Gold on the Ceiling.” For that selection, King was joined by Jim Candytree of Whiskey Reverb. The video has become one of her most popular yet, racking up nearly 3,000 YouTube hits in just two weeks.

While much of King’s time has been occupied by the Alphabet Project (not to mention her relentless touring), she is also working on new original music as well. She’s given fans a sample of her latest work with the one non-cover of the project so far, a song called “Fight.” King is currently at work on her third EP, her first two releases being 2010’s Throwing Stones and 2012’s She Sends Her Love. King has stated that she prefers the EP format to LPs because the shorter running time leads to less filler, and allows her more opportunity to flesh out her best songs.

As King’s profile has increased, she has found herself playing more and more gigs outside of the tri-country area. She has an upcoming gig at the Living Room in New York City, and back in May she performed shows in West Virginia. With the success of the Alphabet Project, however, King’s fame has gone from regional to international, as folks from around the global have been converted into diehard Savannah-heads.

“I’ve had many new fans contact me from places like Brazil and Germany who are now actively following my music,” King says. “I think it is so cool how diverse my fan base is becoming.”

King recently played at the Buffalo Infringement Festival, and on August 17, she’ll be part of City of Night. Also, fans can expect a new video from King to grace their computer screens at 1pm on each of the next 17 Sundays. No one knows what King will be up to when the Alphabet Project is complete, but considering her ample ambition, as well as her reputation for left-field covers, a Greek Alphabet Project may not be out of the question.

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