hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

April 10, 2014

Singing like an 'American Idol'

Haverhill native from TV competition grows successful career

By Mike LaBella
Staff Writer

---- — Liz Bills didn’t capture the top spot on “American Idol,’’ but she’s belting out songs like a true champion.

Bills, a singer/songwriter and keyboard player who grew up in the city, was a contestant on the popular TV show last year.

Now she is featured on a new music release by students and alumni of the Berklee College of Music. She is also involved in other recordings and performances.

Bills, 28, performed in Haverhill last summer with her band Analog Heart as part of the Bradford Common Outdoor Music Series. On April 12, Analog Heart returns to Haverhill and will perform at the Chit Chat Lounge on Washington Street, where the band often performs.

You can listen to a few of their songs online, or you can download them for free. Analog Heart is featured on two tracks of the compilation the Dorm Sessions 9, a new release by Berklee’s student-run label, Heavy Rotation Records.

Bills wrote the songs for her band’s self-titled release in 2012. She was invited to be on the compilation after her band performed last year at The Red Room Cafe 939 in Boston.

“A student with Heavy Rotation Records saw the show and asked if we’d like to be on their next CD,” Bills said. “We gave them two of our songs and they remixed and remastered them.”

Analog Heart is a vocal-driven rock band that features Bills, drummer Austin Ferrante of Littleton and guitarist Jesse Cohen of Westborough.

Dorm Sessions 9 is a mix of rock, blues, folk, Americana, pop, rumba, reggae, indie rock, and electronica by Berklee students and alumni. It also features Fate & the Family Band, Oyinda, Redwood Deville, Los Rumberos, Dav3, The Western Den, Night Lights, and Salda.

You can stream or download Dorm Sessions 9 for free at BerkleeCollegeofMusic.bandcamp.com. The last two songs in the compilation are the Analog Heart recordings, “Elephant Song” and “Backlight.”

“The Elephant Song is about breaking up with my last boyfriend and all the things we never talked about in our relationship,” Bills said.

She said her song “Backlight” is about coming out of a bad relationship and realizing you can make it on your own.

Bills grew up on Primrose Street in Haverhill and attended Burnham School, Whittier Middle School and Haverhill High. She also attended Berklee College of Music.

She lives in Boston, where she teaches voice, piano, guitar, and song writing.

According to Berklee Media Relations manager Margot Edwards, Heavy Rotation Records is a class that gives Berklee music business/management students hands-on experience in running a record company. Under the guidance of faculty advisor Jeff Dorenfeld, former manager of the band Boston, the student staff oversees all the label’s functions, including marketing, sales, web development and media.

The label presents events and artists in the Boston area and at some of the music industry’s largest festivals, including Lollapalooza (Chicago, Chile, and Brazil), SXSW, and CMJ Music Marathon. HRR is partnering with Vans Vinyl on its next release.

Edwards said the selection process for Dorm Sessions 9 spanned the spring, summer and fall of 2013. Hundreds of submissions were reviewed. Then, the class voted on finalists, taking into account live performances, YouTube clips, and social media presence.

“It’s not a scientific process. The selections are based on a combination of what the students like and the artists entrepreneurial spirit,” Dorenfeld said. “They do try to mix it up and have a variety of genres.”

About Liz Bills

Age: 28

Grew up: On Primrose Street in Haverhill

Attended: Burnham School, Whittier Middle School and Haverhill High

Is lead singer: With the band Analog Heart

Is teacher: Gives lessons in voice, piano, guitar and song writing in Boston, where she lives