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Life after Lilith: Girls Room hits the road

Tour of female singer/songwriters will aid charities

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Kendall Payne and Shannon McNally joined The Girls Room tour because it sounded like a good idea.

"I was approached by Ron Aniello, who looked around the record label (Capitol) and found he had four women who were ready to tour," Payne said during a phone interview from Woodland Hills, Calif. "Since Lilith Fair had come to a close last year, he was trying to put together a tour that would focus on female singer/songwriters."

"I thought the purpose for the tour was worthwhile," McNally said during a phone call from Venice, Calif. "The money we raise is going to local charities in the cities we play."

The Girls Room tour, featuring Payne, McNally, Tara MacLean and Amy Correia, will make a stop at the Zephyr Club, 301 S. West Temple, on Monday, July 17. Doors open at 7 p.m. The concert is free, but a $5 donation is suggested. The money raised will benefit the Utah Chapter of the YWCA.

Both Payne and McNally are new to the recording business, although they have been involved with music since childhood. Payne released her debut album, "Jordan's Sister," last year, and McNally's first album will be released later in the fall.

"I was 13 when I started playing guitar," said Payne, who was a featured artist at one of the rounds of the Lilith Fair. "I was at a local concert in California and I saw this woman named Kate Miner. She was pregnant. She walked onto the stage, kicked her shoes off and played a wonderful set that just mesmerized me. I approached her afterwards and told her that I wanted her to teach me to play guitar."

"U2 was a major influence on me," said McNally, who was discovered busking (singing in the streets) in Paris by Cowboy Junkies vocalist Margo Timmins. "There was a lot of U2 in my growing up. But I started songwriting when I was in college. It was there I also got into other musicians, such as Ry Cooder."

While her career pretty much landed in her lap, Payne said it hasn't been exactly what she had planned. "After a gig last year on New Year's Eve, I hooked up with Ron," she said. "He had a studio and he helped me make a demo tape. After a couple of reworkings, I was signed to Capitol Records. We released my album last year, but it didn't take off like we had planned. That was a test of faith for me."

Payne, whose earliest musical influences were tapes of Broadway show tunes, took some time off to look inside her soul to see if making music was really what she wanted to do.

"I came to the conclusion that if my music made a difference to only one person during my career, it was worth it," she said. "My music is gutsy and honest. And if someone can see that or if it helps them in any way, then I've done what I've set out to do."

McNally has had other challenges.

"It's hard finding your own career through your own work," McNally said. "Especially when you have to come up to your own standards."

E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com