The Award Recipient has been chosen for the 2012 Songsalive! Songwriter of the Year Award, announced at the recent end of year Holiday Party at The Mint in Los Angeles on December 4th, 2012, to a standing, full house.
The AWARD for 2012 was given to KATIE GARIBALDI, from San Francisco, California.
Katie Garibaldi is a touring singer/songwriter/guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her latest album, Next Ride Out, produced by Michael Molenda, noted producer, engineer, and editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, has catapulted the songstress’ career into top speed. Katie has been named a Music Connection Magazine Top 100 Live Unsigned Artist and is an endorsed Luna Guitars and Reunion Blues artist. Her new single, “Baby We’re Really In Love,” a tribute to Hank Williams, is now available on iTunes. Check Katie out at her website www.katiegaribaldi.com
This prestigious award is based on the following criteria:
Has hit songs – timely and strong radio friendly songs that are ready for the world’s music markets or has been deemed as world-class.
Can provide a track record of career successes with one’s music but not necessarily commercial success.
Shows exemplary talent and commitment to one’s art of writing songs.
Shows a long standing drive and commitment to one’s own business career.
Exemplary member of Songsalive! who shows commitment to our community and programs over time.
Shown commitment and dedication to the broader songwriting community at large and offers something beyond just oneself.
Independently released on her own label, ‘Glass Half…?’ is the debut album from New York born and now Manchester-based Risa Hall, but the talented actress/singer/songwriter has been involved with music for many years. The twelve original songs spread over the album, which was produced by Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore, Sandi Thorn, Waterboys), take in a breathtaking variety of styles which isn’t so surprising given Risa’s experience in films, voiceovers and musicals.
It could have been all over the place of course; drawing on elements taken from all phases of her long career means that show tunes could sit uneasily next to Risa’s blues and jazz leanings and songs that reflect her pop sensibilities. It shouldn’t really work over the length of an album, but Risa has succeeded in producing an eclectic set of songs that flow very nicely together.
It all starts with ‘Can’t Take Away’ and we’re immediately struck by the power in Risa’s vocals. She certainly isn’t of the popular cutesy, little-girl-lost school. Here is a woman who sings from the heart and grabs your attention. That opening song shows Risa’s bluesy side and, as appealing, well-structured and brilliantly produced and performed as it is there is a feeling that if the following eleven songs are in the same vein that, unfortunately, despite Risa’s remarkable vocals we’ve heard it all before. Maybe not as proficiently as this but that particular song offers nothing new. Having said that, it’s the first inkling that Risa Hall is an outstanding vocalist.
Thankfully the following song, the poppy ‘Shooting Stars’ shows another side to Risa’s talents. Almost every song on ‘Glass Half…?’ is radically different to the one that precedes it and the album seems to improve with each song and certainly with each listen. Risa is one of those rare artists who are impossible to pigeonhole. On that opening cut we are reminded of Janis Joplin, Elkie Brooks and almost any other female singer from the last five decades who sang with passion and expression in their vocals. But it only lasts for that one song; then we realise that here is a unique talent, a singer who can handle, and seemingly handle with ease, any genre she cares to approach.
Given his past accomplishments I’m sure these songs are brought to life not just by his production skills but by the musical contributions that Nigel Stonier makes to each song. Along with co-producer Tracey Browne he adds the perfect sound to frame Risa’s outstanding vocals.
But without wishing to take any credit away from the sterling job the producers and other musicians make one wonders if Risa is one of those singers who would sound good no matter what she sings. Unusually for such a powerful singer there’s a certain amount of that very English purity that dominated the folk scene of the sixties and seventies in her vocals. On tracks such as ‘The Grail’ Risa mixes folk leanings, especially notable on this song by the wind instruments, with her other influences to create sounds that are totally unique to her.
Risa follows that song with ‘Candy Coated Hell’ which shows yet another side; this time by drawing from bands like the Ramones, which again is no big surprise given her musical pedigree, and while never losing sight of the melody it’s a major departure from the previous song.
The album closes with ‘Roses’ where the purity in Risa’s vocals really shines through, there’s no need for a lyric sheet here, the words ring out crystal clear, the lone violin weeps out the melody accompanied by piano and once again Risa’s vocals are first-class.
At the risk of repeating myself I have to say that this is one of the most eclectic yet complete albums that has come my way recently. It’s highly recommended for those who are looking for something a little different and which covers more than one base. With a voice like that Risa deserves all the acclaim that must surely come her way.
As good fortune would have it, we had the opportunity to meet at the lovely Imprimerie café near the Louvre, with one of Paris’ brightest new stars to hit the stage, recording artist Victoria Rummler. Vicki, who is currently working on her second album, was able to take some time to sit down with us to discuss life and music in Paris. We’re very lucky to know her both professionally and as a friend. She is tall, blond and blue-eyed, she brightens the room with her shy smile. She’s best known for of her jazz, but she crosses over with ease – pop, acoustic, alternative.
Hi, you do go by Vicki, right?
Hi, yes, Vicki’s fine, actually I only started using Victoria when I moved to Paris. People here really love that name – and Vicki is a dog’s name here! (laughs)
So, where are you from originally?
I was born in Royal Oak, Michigan, outside Detroit, and grew up in Rochester, New York, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Miami. We moved a lot because my Dad was with Kodak and got transferred every few years. And I went to Williams College in Massachusetts.
How did your musical journey begin?
My earliest memory is of singing with my Dad in the car. He taught me how to hear and sing harmony, and also to appreciate different languages, since we sang a song in German. I started piano lessons at age 6 and have always loved Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Debussy. In Miami I played in piano competitions, became a cheerleader, sang with a church group that toured Mexico and Central America, and performed with a show chorus in high school. We did some pretty hip stuff at the time – a Chicago medley comes to mind, with some unforgettable choreography on “25 or 6 to 4” (laughs). My senior year I sang with the stage band – we did a strange mixture of Carpenters songs, disco and big band music. I remember hearing Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” for the first time and being totally blown away! I rushed home to let my parents hear it – of course they’d grown up with it and had a good laugh at my expense. But the jazz seed was planted! I also directed and arranged for an a cappella group, the Ephlats, at Williams College. My favorite contribution was the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes.”
How did you get from Miami to Williams College to Paris? That is more than a taxi cab ride.
(Laughs) That’s for sure. I had always wanted to go to college in New England, and Williams just felt right, so I applied and wasacceptedfor early admission. After graduating in 1988, I wanted something totally different. I’ve always been fascinated by foreign languages and cultures, so I took off for Munich, Germany. What was supposed to be 6 months turned into 5 years, working with BMG Records, and performing with a cabaret/performance art group in German. We did these wacky shows, using psychedelic slides and wearing various things on our heads: bathing caps, giant fluorescent pieces of fruit, blinking Eiffel towers (I kid you not) – a premonition of my future in Paris!
So you ended up in the Paris jazz world by way of Munich?
Pretty much. Again, it was time to shake it up a bit, take on a new challenge, learn another culture. In 1993 I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream by spending a few months in Paris – and I’ve been here ever since! I worked for MCA (now Universal) for almost 4 years, and have been a freelance vocalist/composer/pianist/lyricist for 10.
How does living and performing in France compare with Germany, is it as extreme as we would think?
Kind of. It’s hard to generalize, and it’s important to mention that Paris is like an island different from the rest of France (like NY in the US). But I often found the German lifestyle more similar to the American: more organized, straightforward. In France things seem more complicated, but also more creative. For example, when I worked for the record companies and would call someone in Germany, we would say our name instead of “hello,” get right to the point and the call would be over in 3 minutes. With the French we would talk about the weather, the weekend, or something random for about 15 minutes, and then get to the reason why we were calling. It’s tricky, but fun figuring out how people work. And it’s easier than if I had moved to, say, Bangladesh! (laughs)
“Jazz in Paris” has a better ring to it than “Jazz in Dhaka”? (laughs)
Can you picture that? (laughs) My parents would have been thrilled!
Tell us about your music. Your style is very pure, vocals are both fragile and solid, and it all seems very unique. How did all of that come together?
I did classical and pop and yes disco, growing up, and concentrated on jazz for several years after moving to Paris. The American jazz influencein Paris is huge and it was kind of natural to continue that. I’ve sung in a lot of vocal groups and have tried to remove all boundaries to what I can sing. As for my own style, it’s intricately tied to my experiences in different US cities growing up, in Munich and Paris, the people I’ve met and things I’ve learned along the way. So today it goes beyond jazz and runs the gamut of emotions and genres. It can be playful or powerful, structured or improvised. But more and more it seems to be a direct reflection of my own mood and experience at the moment.
How do Parisian crowds differ from, say, New York or Chicago?
It’s funny, my solo act debuted in France, so I was used to audiences not necessarily knowing all the standards or understanding all the lyrics. So when I did my first US tour in 2005, I was shocked, but thrilled that people hung on every word! It added a whole new dimension to how I could communicate. For example, in Des Moines I did a spontaneous version of “Georgia,” calling it “Iowa.” That show got a standing ovation.
Your first album, “Twinkle,” opened to some great reviews. Tell us a bit about that.
“Twinkle” was released on Pitch Puppy Productions in 2004. It was a presentation of my musical journey up until that point. There’s a wide selection of tunes, from standards “I Could Write a Book” and “They Can’t Take That Away” to a tongue-in-cheek original called “Cocktail Optimism” and waltz ballad “Words,” a cover of Pat Metheny’s “James,” and a Japanese traditional song called “Watashi.” The instrumentation differs from one tune to the next, from piano, bass, drums/percussion to guitar and steel drum. The reviews were great to read. Made me want to record more.
You also perform with an a cappella group?
Yes, a pretty wild, really successful project. In 2005 I was invited to participate in the second album by the cutting-edge French electro-a cappella group “Les Grandes Gueules” (the Big Mouths) for SONY-BMG, released in March 2006. There are 6 vocalists in the group – 3 women, 3 men. The album title, “Vocal Extreme,” pretty much describes it. We experiment with sound, both vocally and electronically, there’s a sound engineer who’s basically the seventh artist in the group. We really push the limits of what can be done with several-part harmony. Being the only American in the group is interesting and has really pushed me linguistically and culturally. A far cry from the stage at Palmetto High School for sure.
So you’re now working on a follow-up album?
Yes, it should be released in the coming months.
How does this album differ from your debut?
The title is “Am I Am,” which is also the title of one of the tracks. I like the symmetry of the phrase, and the fact that it combines a questionand answer. The album is a combination of live recording and programming, including guitar, Fender Rhodes, percussion, electric bass, and special guest stars Olivier Ker Ourio on harmonica and Emmanuel Bex on organ. There are 11 tracks: 9 original tunes, 2 covers and my unusual take on the children’s song “Frère Jacques.” This new project feels like a bolder affirmation of my style, which was recently described as “Erykah Badu and Bobby McFerrin channeling Mel Tormé, somewhere between Paris and Rio.” Not a bad assessment! There are some funk, pop and Brazilian influences, a touch of humor, and lyrics about coming to terms with being an expat, after almost 20 years of living abroad: hellos and goodbyes, traveling, trying to belong, and knowing different languages. It’s also about the cyclical pattern life seems to take: although you leave your past behind, it’s always a part of you and can resurface in your actions or relationships.
Have to tell you – we love the album and the coming together of genres. The lead track, “Guys With Ties” is just – well – infectious!
What does it mean to you to be a professional musician in 2010?
It means being as open and flexible as possible, while staying centered on what you’re experiencing. Every person you meet can influence you, and every project you participate in can feed your own creativity. The day-to-day life can be challenging, but the power of music is fascinating, therapeutic, sometimes bizarre – totally worth it!
Vicki, thank you for your time, it was great talking with you and we wish you the best of luck with your new album.
Thank you, it was great. Enjoy the good weather!
Victoria Rummler will provide a sneak preview of her new album on Friday, July 16 at 9 p.m. at the China, 50, rue de Charenton, 75012 Paris, http://www.lechina.eu/ and on Saturday, July 17 at 7 p.m. at the prestigious Nice Jazz Festival, Scène Matisse, http://www.nicejazzfestival.fr/.