It comes as no surprised when singer-songwriter Mia Borders points to Bill Withers and Etta James as two of her biggest influences. Borders -- who performs Saturday (April 14) at French Quarter Festival and May 3 at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival -- likes to blend styles, mixing hints of blues and jazz, with a dose of R&B and rock riffs.
As part of a five-part feature looking at festival style, we chatted with Borders -- as well as Sasha Masakowski, Kristin Diable, Theresa Andersson and Kourtney Heart (coming Friday) -- about the art of dressing for the fest, particularly when you're the one on stage.
Below, Borders talks about the musicians she's looked up to, her favorite shades and why she loves Save NOLA shirts.
You have a new album, "Wherever There Is," coming out this year?
"Although all my work is personal, this new album and new material represents my first solo effort from conception to release. I find myself much more like a nervous and excited parent than ever before. I'm in a completely different -- hopefully more mature -- place personally and professionally, and I'd like my newest baby to convey that."
Who are the musicians you've looked up to?
"Bill Withers and Etta James will always be the biggest musical inspirations in my life. In terms of their respective styles, Bill Withers' music and overall presence is pretty laid back, to which I can relate. Although, he seems to be really into track suits as of late, which is where he kind of loses me. Etta had such grace while staying true to that attitude of hers, which I love and will always admire most about her. I try and stay true to myself as well, which is probably why you won't catch me in a cocktail dress and high heels on stage. I'm not a fan of my ankles...although my calves are pretty sweet."
You've got a laid-back, jeans-and-T-shirts style. Where do you find your shirts?
"All of my shirts are from local companies. I really enjoy the shirts I get from Save Nola (onenola.com). They're the most comfortable and allow for a lot of movement on stage, which comes in handy for my silly gyrations and whatnot. Also, each purchase contributes money to organizations dedicated to the rebuilding of New Orleans, which comes in handy for a lot of better reasons."
What's your favorite thing to wear when you perform?
"I never perform without my shades. The ones I've been wearing for a couple of years now are Sequence by Kaenon. Ever since I was a little kid in my fringed T-shirts, red cowboy boots and one white glove, I've always loved aviator-style glasses. I've had a lot of different brands, but Kaenon is my favorite by far. They're so comfortable and lightweight, which is really important on stage. They're also really secure, which is good because I tend to flail my head around a lot."