The Inspire Project, a folk-rock group made up of Tanya Leah, Ilene Angel and Lorraine Ferro, was born after the trio left the stage at The Folk Project, a community center in Morristown, NJ, for a benefit for a friend battling cancer. When asked what the name of their group was, Tanya Leah said, “The Inspire Project.” Each of the women, who have been friends for over 25 years, had her own number-one hits before coming together in 2016.
“The idea for the band really was Tanya’s brainchild,” said Angel, “because really, each of us when left to our own devices would write songs that were empowering and uplifting kinds of things that really both were distinctly different from one another but had some cohesiveness. And we’re just something that people always responded to.”
Before COVID, the group used to perform downtown at Arlene’s Grocery, The Bitter End and The Rockwood as well as in several venues in New Jersey. Their last in-person show was in December 2019, and they haven’t been able to see each other since then. In addition to being a band member, each performer has another gig in order to make a living. Angel and Ferro both do monthly solo concerts on StageIt.com, Ferro also teaches, and Leah arranges and produces music. “We’ve had to get a little bit creative while we’ve been at home,” said Angel.
The pandemic has had some positive moments for the group. Before the coronavirus arrived in New York, they were nearly done mixing their first LP, and they were able to release it in August 2020. “We were able to keep working in as much as we obviously couldn’t do any live gigs anymore,” Angel said. “But we were able to finish the record.”
She added: “We had a lot of discussion about whether we should be putting this out during a pandemic. It’s crazy, because we can’t play live to support it. We can’t be in the same room together. So we do not have the technology figured out yet to in order to do that ... We decided that, you know, if ever there was a time that people needed to feel uplifted that now was it and so, we did release the record like last August, you know, even in the midst of the pandemic.”
Now that each member of the trio has had a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s only a matter of time before the group gets back to practicing in-person again. “The hope is, first of all, when we get together to, you know, to relearn or replay what we’ve actually already been doing, as well as to move forward recording, to record more songs in the in the coming months,” Angel said. “But, initially, it’s to get together and to get the cobwebs out, and reacquaint ourselves with being a cohesive unit. And then, you know, as things open up, hopefully, we’ll start playing again.”
“We decided that ... if ever there was a time that people needed to feel uplifted that now was it and so, we did release the record like last August.” Ilene Angel of The Inspire Project