Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
A group of unsuspecting women, one with a guitar, buzzed up to the JBTV studio using the building’s front door. What the passerby didn’t know was the utter starpower they were walking past: Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes with her mentee Lion.
When they entered the studio, both introduced themselves to everyone working. Lion, using her given name Beth.
Linda is an alum of JBTV, having played both solo and with 4 Non Blondes, but has only been in the old studio. She was very interested in touring the new location, wanting to know what went on in every room.
Lion was more interested in what was on the walls. While she was looking at the posters, a performance by Jeff Buckley came on and she was starstruck. Immediately needing to know if she was about to perform on the same stage as her “husband,” as she referred to him, she took off to get an answer.
A decent sized crowd came out at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon to see Lion’s performance. Although it was just her and her guitar in a stripped down set, it wasn’t an acoustic performance. Lion’s electric guitar was plugged in.
Linda Perry gave Lion’s introduction. Perry signed Lion and has been mentoring her. After the introduction, Lion came out. Boxed water in one hand, tea in the other. She set down her beverages and picked up her guitar and started.
Without the background of a large band, her vocals took center stage. Dramatic shifts from soft to loud. Her voice alone was captivating.
Lion has an amazing stage presence. Standing there with her guitar and singing, it was impossible to tear your eyes away. It was hypnotic.
That’s exactly what Linda Perry saw the first time she met Lion. Perry’s manager had quit, and all her calender said was “Beth, U.K.” Perry had no other details about who was coming in. When Beth came in, Perry was honest and said she had no music, no details, nothing. Beth offered to play demos, but Perry wanted to hear her live.
Lion was nervous about that first meeting. She expected it to go differently, with Perry having already heard her music and wanting to make an album.
Jerry noted that Lion has elements of Linda Perry. They have a similar stage presence. Perry and Lion had just found out that they have the exact same signature. It’s an L with a squiggle and then a little heart.
They wrote some of Lion’s songs together. Perry’s favorite song is “Wolf.” Lion was having a bit of a meltdown in the studio, and out of that came a stadium hit.
Perry is huge on mentoring young artists. She said that if she had been like other managers, she would’ve hit Lion and changed her sound. Instead, she’s creating a safe space for Lion to create. She misses the days where labels would work with new artists and help them grow.
It was a day full of firsts for Lion. From her first poster signing to her first television performance in the USA. It was also her first time in Chicago. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s like a movie set,” she noted.
Lion will definitely be back to Chicago. She and Linda Perry want to come back to JBTV with a full band and do a fully plugged in set.