She’s only 20, but Mairin Gorman is already gaining recognition for her sultry, emotive voice and her distinctively soulful style. What’s even more surprising is that the Woodinville woman has never had any formal training.
“My father really taught me everything,” explains Gorman. “He’s the one who got me into music. He’s been the most important music figure in my life.”
Gorman’s dad, Paul, is a singer, though not professional, who has been with a number of different bands over the years.
He also plays the keyboards and harmonica.
Music is in his DNA (and consequently in Gorman’s, too), as he comes from a long line of musical performers.
“My dad would ask me to sing with him at his band practices when I was younger,” says Gorman, “and I remember how special that made me feel. I just wanted to keep singing.”
When she was 14, the Woodinville woman started doing karaoke and eventually entered kids’ karaoke contests in the area.
She did well, which gave her the fuel to continue pursuing her passion. Two years later, she courageously auditioned for “American Idol” and “X Factor.”
Though Gorman didn’t make it past the initial round for either show, the experience made her realize that she was nowhere near ready to give up her dream.
“Yes, I was a bit upset afterwards,” she admits, “but I think I also felt more determined. It put fire under me.”
The judges told Gorman that her voice wasn’t strong enough yet — a constructive criticism that she took to heart.
Since then, the young woman has worked consistently on improving her vocal technique and performance style.
“I see such a difference now, as compared to four years ago,” she comments. “My voice has really matured.”
This past summer, Gorman had her first paid gig, performing at the Beach Club Café in Kirkland with guitarist Rick Azim, who she met at her mom’s birthday party.
“My dad hired him to play at the party,” explains Gorman. “I got up and sang a bit and he really liked my voice. We started working together and now we’re an established duo.”
Azim is a veteran performer, teacher, producer and arranger, who has worked with a number of music industry giants including Ray Charles, Linda Hopkins and Joe Williams. He provides a well-crafted musical context for Gorman’s vocals, applying his talents to “marrying the vitality of Mairin’s youthful contemporary style with a classical jazz/R&B musical idiom with great results.”
The pair performs renditions of classics by such iconic artists as Norah Jones, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keyes, Etta James, Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt and Gorman’s favorite, Martina McBride.
One of the duo’s steady gigs is at Italianissimo Restaurant in Woodinville.
“We’re there performing in the bar most every Saturday night,” adds Gorman. “I love it! It’s so much fun and the audience is great. Everybody’s been so positive in their feedback.”
The young woman used to get nervous singing in front of a crowd, but not anymore.
She gets enormous satisfaction from being able to touch people’s souls with her voice and delights in any and all opportunities to perform.
“Singing is such a wonderful avenue of expression for me,” she says. “It gives me so much and I know it will always be a special part of my life.”
Though she is currently taking classes at Cascadia Community College, Gorman is devoting as much time as possible to advancing her musical career.
She emphasizes that she wants to see where this path will lead her to in the future, adding, “I want to go with this as far as it will take me.”