Sometimes an album's title offers a clue to an artist's style. In that case, Mia Borders wears her heart and soul on every recording. Consider the four collections of musical gems already notched on the belt of this twentysomething performer: "The Nashville Cuts," "Southern Fried Soul." "Magnolia Blue" and "Live at House of Blues New Orleans."
Now listen as Borders, guitar in hand, opens her mouth to belt a tune at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage on Monday night. These are the pipes and original lyrics of a young woman steeped in a gumbo of funk, rock and soul; a style all her own, one that belies her years on this Earth.
Leslie Michele Derrough of Glide Magazine noted at a recent concert that "the sassy Mia Borders walked out onto the Gentilly Stage around midday with enough attitude to kick butt the New Orleans way -- with her voice, her guitar playing and her very capable band beside her."
"I'm an old soul," said the New Orleans native, who has been performing professionally for all of six years, beginning at the age of 18 by playing the lounges and smoke-filled clubs of the Big Easy.
These days, she has captured the attention of regional and national audiences by strutting across the country on a tour that, in the past week alone, has taken her to Williamsport, Pa., New York, Washington and back to New Orleans.
Borders' Kennedy Center performance is part of the Millennium Stage Happy Hour Series, with drink specials from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Throughout August this popular Monday night gathering features cold drinks from the bar for patrons to purchase while mingling, dancing and enjoying the show -- New Orleans style.
"I'm bringing the young'uns with me," Borders said, referring to her newly assembled band. "Every now and then I'll do a solo acoustic show, but I really prefer to be with the guys."
Borders and the "guys" (drummer Nick Hughes, bassist Jesse Morrow and guitarist Andrew Block) will be playing the original music from her albums as well as few covers.
" 'Use Me' by Bill Withers has always been one of my favorites to perform," she said. "I'll probably end up doing that one; I haven't decided one-hundred percent yet."
Even if the repertoire isn't completely set at the moment, audiences can be assured of an energetic hour or so of funk, soul and original song-writing.
"I can promise you a good show," said Borders. "I've got some pretty talented guys up there with me and we're really looking forward to playing at the Kennedy Center."