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Her vocal arsenal is made up of jazzy phrasings, titillating coos, and scat-speak. She knows her way 'round a guitar and has a little-kid way of delivering biting punch lines about people in the "Bible belt buckle" and men on motorcycles. Miami-based singer-songwriter Magda Hiller is a breath of fresh air who now has a regular Thursday-night gig at Himmarshee Bar & Grill in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

"I love that type of thing, it's great," Hiller says about acoustic gigs in general. "They're probably my favorite way to play. The reaction's great. I love it."

The media and her fans love Hiller right back. Just about every Florida-based music magazine has listed her as a favorite performer. (Miami New Times named her "Best Local Solo Performer" for 1997.) She's also performed a few high-profile gigs, including an opener for Bob Dylan, a party for Sting, and the 1996 Summer Olympics. Funny thing is, she hasn't quite been able to break into the big time. Her break may, however, be right around the corner.

"The next thing I'm doing is applying to a lot of folk festivals. But first I'm going to finish the CD, then start touring. Out, out, out!" she shouts, eager to get her music on the streets.

The release of her debut CD is set for June, and fans can expect the same type of poetic, from-the-hip tales she put on her 1994 ten-song cassette, ...nothing but. Those songs, she says, were the result of "60 percent personal experience, 40 percent vivid imagination."

A good example of Hiller's knack for imagery is on the upcoming CD. "Too Much" is a gentle, acoustic ballad that paints a subtle portrait of relationships. She's also done some soundtrack work. The last film she worked on was the locally shot independent film Roof, which is currently making the film-festival rounds.

With so much to say about Hiller, it's a shame that, last Thursday, the folks at Himmarshee had her playing upstairs to a small audience, rather than downstairs, where she'd be able to draw a sidewalk crowd. Hiller will also perform at the Delray Affair in downtown Delray Beach April 17 and at Tobacco Road in Miami April 21. For more information on Hiller, check out www.size13music.com/magda.

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Brian Hyman

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