By Sidnie Paisley Thomas, Staff Writer
My first introduction to Molly Lewis was seeing her open for Weyes Blood on the In Holy Flux tour. She came out on the stage, and with no introduction or preemptive words, she began her first song—a bossa nova track set behind her melodic whistling.
Her enchanting voice captured me on the first note, and her melodies rang out with style and conviction. It wasn’t until the song’s end that she introduced herself to the audience as Molly Lewis, a professional whistler.
Like many others in the crowd, this was my first introduction to whistling as a creative art form. Throughout her set, Lewis acquainted us with the versatility of her craft. She performed covers of classical concertos, songs set to smooth jazz instruments, and other tracks with strong South American influences.
In between each song, Lewis told stories and jokes about her journey transitioning from a young competitor in international whistling competitions to a full-blown whistling superstar.
THE ROAD TO DISCOVERING HER CALLING
On her website, Lewis leaves us with a quote that encapsulates her career: “My mentor and hero Geert Chatrou once told me, ‘You don’t choose the whistle, the whistle chooses you.’”
According to The Guardian, Lewis spent her childhood in Australia, where she was born, and Los Angeles, where her parents worked. Creativity runs in her family; her father was a filmmaker, and her mother was a music supervisor.
She first witnessed professional whistling in the 2005 documentary Pucker Up, which examines the Louisburg International Whistling Competition. Her parents showed her the film after noticing her infatuation with whistling. Subsequently, her love for the art grew, and she soon entered whistling competitions.
As an adult, Lewis moved to LA and began performing classical whistling covers in local cafes. It wasn’t until the pandemic—when the world was at a standstill—that she decided to produce her own music.
LEWIS’S DEBUT ALBUM: THE FORGOTTEN EDGE
The musician released her first album, The Forgotten Edge, in 2021. The release consists of groovy, tropical rhythms; it is the perfect soundtrack for a vacation. At a time when many people stayed inside their homes, Lewis made escapism easier than ever before. Thoughts of paradise enter listeners’ minds with every soothing track.
Additionally, the album highlights Lewis’s LA background, as it’s infused with slow jazz and sounds of noir. On this short, yet rich, album, Lewis draws you in with each layer of her sound. Her perfect whistling pitch—accompanied by jazz rhythms and tropical guitars—is something uniquely interesting for the ears.
A STUNNING SOPHOMORE EFFORT
Then, in 2022, Lewis released her second album, Mirage. This album is a collaboration with Brazilian guitarist wunderkind Rogê. Together, the two made a record that will pique your interest from start to finish.
The album’s title track includes sounds of the rainforest, immersing the listener from the moment it begins. Notes of light drums, maracas, and marimbas ring off against the background of Lewis’s classic noir sound with its persistent use of the bass.
Interestingly, the musician’s whistling doesn’t fight to be the star of the project. It serves as an accompaniment to the other instruments and blends in with the layered sounds. Ultimately, Lewis’s whistling guides the ear of the listener through each chord of Rogê’s guitar rhythms. The two artists' sounds blend masterfully on every track, weaving together to create something one-of-a-kind.
The art of whistling is distinct—the lack of words allows the listener to soak in the music production. Instead of focusing on lyrics and meaning, listeners hear every chord, every instrument, and every sound. In particular, Lewis’s music is masterfully produced. Each song is clear as day, and her whistling rings like a bird in the early morning sky.
On Mirage, Lewis lets other instruments or sounds take center stage. This is what makes her collaboration with Rogê so special: he isn’t a feature or an addition. The album is a product of both musicians’ sounds blending and playing off each other. Lewis and Rogê take turns steering the narrative of these songs.
LEWIS SOLIDIFIES WHISTLING AS A MODERN ART FORM
Lewis creates a landscape for whistling in the 21st century by pairing her stunning voice with jazz and pop sounds. Her whistling is enticing. Overall, Lewis creates a listening experience that is both relaxing and interesting.
If you enjoy bossa nova, smooth jazz, and Latin American music, Molly Lewis is the perfect artist to diversify your listening roster. She’ll fit right into your bedroom pop and classic R&B playlists—offering a sound that’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.
Listen to Molly Lewis’s latest album Mirage anywhere you stream your music!