Better ready yourself, Oklahoma City. “The Real Thing” is a-coming.
Actually, Audra Mae is coming back.
The up-and-coming Oklahoma native singer-songwriter will play Sunday night at the Blue Door, marking her first hometown show since the 2011 Norman Music Festival.
“I didn't come home for Christmas, so I'm due,” Mae said in a phone interview this week from Baton Rouge, La. “It's really fun 'cause my entire family shows up. And then every time I do it, the crowd gets bigger, and I get to see people that I don't know, that I've never met, but that are just Okies and they know I'm from Oklahoma and they like my stuff and they want to come and see it and sing along. And that always is so heartwarming.”
The Putnam City High School graduate, 28, has been keeping busy since she relocated to Los Angeles about eight years ago. After inking a publishing agreement, she has penned songs for several other artists, even sharing a co-writing credit on the anthem “Who I Was Born to Be,” the lone original on Susan Boyle's 2009 debut album “I Dreamed a Dream,” which sold 9 million copies.
Signed to L.A.-based indie SideOneDummy Records, the Edmond-grown chanteuse released her first EP, “The Haunt,” that same year, then channeled her gypsy cowgirl soul into her 2010 full-length debut “The Happiest Lamb.”
The redhead adopted a full band and a boot-stomping rock sound on her sophomore LP, “Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound.” Released Valentine's Day, it opens with the rollicking anthem “The Real Thing,” with the sultry-voiced songstress declaring “Baby I'm coming/ better ready yourself/ be looking for me 'cause I'm the real thing.”
“It just happened really naturally. I didn't like set out to build a band, but then once they were there, it just felt really good. And I really wanted it to last and be real, but they all have their own bands. So it was just sort of a fleeting moment, but thank goodness we captured it,” Mae said.
“It's all my friends, they were coming and playing with me at this residency that I was doing (at Barre Vermont in L.A.). We'd been playing together and really liking it, and since we're all friends and all songwriters, we started writing together. And before you knew it, we had enough to make a whole record.
“The label wasn't really ready for a record, but I always say it's like trying to stop a baby from being born. You know, if it's ready to happen, it's ready to happen.”
Once she decided to make it happen, Mae put considerable planning into creating her “Almighty Sound.” Along with co-writing all 11 tracks, she spent weeks in preproduction with guitarist Jarrad Kritzstein.
Once she and her pals entered the studio, they recorded the album live in just a week.
“He reserved his back (room) studio for an entire like month and a half before we put out the record so that he and I could go through and blueprint how we wanted each song to go so that it felt like the lyrics were telling a story with the music and so that the song felt like what it was about and so that each one was like a cohesive story.”
When the producer her label wanted had a scheduling conflict, Mae recruited country singer-songwriter Deana Carter, with whom she wrote the racy rocker “Smokin' the Boys.” Carter insisted that she and Mae co-produce the new album and schooled the up-and-comer on how to do it.
“She was like, ‘You can make something that's timeless and classic and can sound good 10 years from now.' And we really pushed to do it.”
Her sophomore effort has earned strong reviews, but Mae is hardly resting on her laurels. Along with touring, she recently provided backing vocals for “Kids in the Street,” the latest album from fellow Oklahoma-grown musicians the All-American Rejects,” and “Wild Ones,” the new release from rapper Flo Rida.
She also has earned a reputation for turning out impressive covers of iconic songs, including Bob Dylan's “Forever Young,” used in 2009 on the FX biker series “Sons of Anarchy”; Whitesnake's “Here I Go Again,” featured this year on the CBS legal drama “The Good Wife”; and Van Morrison's “Crazy Love,” included in April's Jason Segel-Emily Blunt comedy “The Five-Year Engagement.”
“There will never be a time where someone picks a song of mine and puts it in something and I'm like ‘eh,'” she said. “I will probably have a strong reaction one way or the other. I'll probably either be like ‘Why did they use it like that? That was horrible!' Or ‘wow — that's like the coolest thing ever!' ... But either way I'll be grateful for the chance to do my job and that more people are hearing my voice.”
Sunday night's set list will include covers and originals running the gamut of her career, but other than that, “it's just me and my guitar,” which may be how she approaches her third album.
“I feel like I want to dig into really crafting a record instead of doing it live with a whole band. Because I just did that, so rather than trying to recreate that experience, I'd like to go in and really just make a record and use the recording process in all the ways that it's evolved.”
When: 8 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Blue Door, 2805 N McKinley.
Information: 524-0738 or www.