After a decade away from the microphone, Sonoma County singer-songwriter Gina Marie Lo Monaco will unveil a new album of original material in a series of single releases over the course of the coming year.
“I have the rock album I’ve always wanted to have,” she says. Her next release, the romantic rock anthem “Real Love,” will be available online Friday, Feb. 14.
Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Lo Monaco moved to Petaluma as a child. Her musical parents helped her learn how to harmonize and play multiple instruments, and her brother passed down to her a love for heavy-metal bands like Metallica. As a teenager, Lo Monaco was approached with offers to make pop music, but she turned those offers down.
“I was such a little rocker at heart,” she says.
In the North Bay, Lo Monaco is best known as the original female vocalist in Sol Horizon.
“I would probably still be in it, except that I started a family,” she says.
In 2018, Lo Monaco experienced a set of circumstances, starting with a 3 Doors Down concert at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, that led her back into music.
“I was just sort of treating myself,” Lo Monaco says. “They used to be one of my favorite bands in high school.”
During the acoustic show, Lo Monaco had an epiphany about what she wanted the songs she’d been quietly writing for years to sound like. After the show, she went backstage, found lead-singer Brad Arnold and took a shot in the dark, asking Arnold if he ever produced other artists. He said, “No.”
But his band mates, drummer Greg Upchurch and guitarist Chet Roberts, did. After introductions, Upchurch and Roberts agreed to produce Lo Monaco at their Nashville studio, where she recorded eight original tunes, including the upcoming “Real Love,” and a rock ‘n’ roll version of Italian protest song, “Bella Ciao.” That song was released last month, and Lo Monaco, who is a dual U.S./Italian citizen, says it’s been making some noise in political protests currently underway in Italy.
“Behind the music is the bigger message to stand up and fight for what you believe in, even if that’s a dream that’s been postponed, like me,” she says. “You’ve got to stand up and have courage. I’m hoping that as people hear the lyrics, that they might find a little strength in it.”