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Meghan Trainor’s sound has roots in NRBQ

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Meghan Trainor brings her act to The Masonic this week. (Courtesy Photo)

“Title” — the eclectic 2014 debut disc from Meghan Trainor, which caroms from the Grammy-nominated funk-pop hit “All About That Bass” to a soulful duet with John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” — jumps old-school genres almost giddily.

That might seem unusual for a 21-year-old. But Trainor, who recently cut a glossy pop song called “Painkiller” with Jason DeRulo and appears in The City this week, is no novice.

She started composing at 11, led her first band at 12, and by 17 had written and recorded three entire indie albums. How does she account for such prodigious creativity?

“NRBQ are the reason I’m here today, honestly,” says the doo-wop-loving Trainor, whose great-uncle Bob LaPalm was a member of the group for a while.

Ever since 1967, the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet has been the epitome of musical diversity, bounding through pop, folk, blues, jazz and rockabilly. The band’s occasional axman Johnny Spampinato — whose bassist brother Joey anchored the group — taught Trainor the guitar at 15.

“It’s a very small world,” she says.

The Nantucket, Mass.-raised firebrand grew fascinated with NRBQ’s dramatic range.

“That was my favorite part about them,” she says. “I would listen to their albums all the time in my car, and tell people, ‘Just listen to this song!’ My favorite was ‘It Was An Accident.’”

The linchpin that cemented her budding career was the group’s husky, personable guitarist, “Big” Al Anderson.

“He got me my publishing deal — I couldn’t believe it!” she says.

From her Trinidadian uncle, Trainor had already developed an ear for soca music. And in high school, she  played jazz trumpet.

She was weighing a scholarship to Berklee College of Music when she spotted Anderson at a Colorado songwriting conference she was attending with her parents. At first, she was too shy to say hello. But bravely, she walked over, name-checked her relative and Spampinato, then asked him to watch her set that day. He said he would.

Stunned, Anderson insisted Trainor meet Carla Wallace, of Nashville, Tenn.’s Big Yellow Dog Publishing, who instantly signed her at 17. She penned country numbers, sang on demos and then — with producer Kevin Kadish — wrote her “Bass” earworm, which she offered to Adele and Beyoncé. Frustrated, she recorded it herself for Epic, and it hit No. 1 in 58
countries.

Trainor is planning a wilder follow-up to “Title” for her fans, known as Megatrons. She may delve deeper into country, or possibly do some Sinatra-style ballads.

She adds, “And I’m definitely going to bring in my Caribbean flow, all the soca stuff. But the title has to have genre in it, so I can acknowledge the fact that, yeah, these are all different types of songs!”

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