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Sound Circuit

Harpin’s fresh start

7/23/2014

Paige Harpin’s story begins like many girls’ humble beginnings.

“I’ve sang since I was a child,” the now-30-year-old said. “I used to be obsessed with Whitney Houston. Then, as I got older, I started getting interested in jazz.”

Paige Harpin performs with Jazz in July at West Glen Town Center on Saturday, July 26.

Paige Harpin performs with Jazz in July at West Glen Town Center on Saturday, July 26.

Being blessed from the get-go with the kind of voice that turns heads, Harpin formed a strong friendship early on with another local performer, Dustin Smith.

“We’ve been friends for years and years,” she said. “So when he moved back from New York, we just started hanging out a lot and singing together. I was able to take my tunes and show him, and he was able to help me out. He’s got such a different perspective. It was nice to have someone who could say, ‘Oh, maybe try this.’ ”

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For a long time, the two singers found themselves moving in the same direction, and Harpin was an integral part of Smith’s group, Dustin Smith & The Sunday Silos. The addition of Harpin’s lighter, jazz-infused vocals to Smith’s smokey, R&B-tipped vox are a large part of what made Smith’s album “Northerner” work as well as it did, and the two vocalists have a strong bond that carries on to this day.

But eventually Smith wanted to take his sound in a different direction. And as much as it pained them both to admit, it wasn’t one that Harpin was willing to follow. So Harpin — who’s performed as an event singer around town for some time now — struck out on her own and began work on a solo album, while Smith has taken the Sunday Silos his own way.

“It’s really hard when you have a friendship, but you have different ideas creatively,” Harpin said. “It’s sometimes hard to communicate that. It was tough for me, because I love everyone in that group, and I love that music. But I totally respect (his direction).”

Harpin’s been returning to her roots a bit, letting her jazz influences dictate her direction. Smith — ever the stalwart friend — continues to help and performs drums for the new album. Harpin is thankful for him. But now her own album is nearly in the can, and Harpin is genuinely excited about watching the album’s reality crystallize.

“It’s been a long time in the works,” she admits. “I’ve been busy with work and life, but now it’s like, ‘Wow, this is actually happening.’ ” CV

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