Featured Artist

Claudia Russell Claudia

She's coming out with a new album, Song Food on Radio Rhythm Records, she wrote 4 of the 12 songs, played rhythm guitar on almost all.

But this started a long time ago, with her first guitar lesson at age 8, in her home town of Los Angeles, in the Park LaBrea neighborhood. She was a Girl Scout at the time, her father a vocal coach, music in the air, her dad got her hooked by showing her the three chords to "This Land is Your Land," E, A, and the hard one, B7.

Years later, the family secret comes out, dad had a million selling recording as vocalist with the BBC Dance Orchestra, singing "The Teddy Bear's Picnic."

One day her stepmom did what would mortify any daughter; she put an ad in the Palisades High newspaper, something to the effect "Girl Singer Seeks Band."  Claudia got a call from Mike Arlen. She auditioned with a Joni Mitchell song for a band called Rubber Duck. "I'm still friends with those guys."

As time went on, she went to school in Sonoma, at Los Angeles City College. One of the guys from the band started a western swing band, Tequila Mockingbird; they did the Pacific flyway bar circuit, from Alberta to San Luis Obispo. It was a living for a
couple of years. Idaho, Montana, South Dakota were new to her, she fell in love with the prairie. Years later one of her songs on the album is called "Prairie Song."

The Prairie opens her arms up wide And she says, 'Come on in, girl, I ain't got nowhere to hide'. All that nothin' means something to me Brings tears to my eyes and fills me with peace.

After Tequila Mockingbird, Claudia joined The Life Is Grand Band, who played at Hamilton Camp's Heliotrope Theater, on the corner of Melrose, near the college.The trio of women played folk instruments and sang a capella. With Claudia were Jill Freeman and Laura Zambo. Eventually they cut a song on an L.A. compilation for Fast Folk Records, "Feel Like Making Art," which placed them squarely in the Smithsonian

The acoustic club downstairs at the Coconut Teaszer was another good gig, teaming Claudia up with Allison MacLeod, the group was Maggie's Farm, and were signed by a subsidiary of BMG Records. They played at a Farm Aid in Dallas, with Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and Michelle Shocked.

While she loved singing harmony, Claudia wrote a few songs, sent two of them to Kerrville Folk Festival near Austin, and was chosen as one of the "New Folk Artists" finalists. Meanwhile, she was working on her CD, recording in Los Angeles and Memphis. Got it wrapped almost in time for Christmas.

Now we've got it.

Article by: Aida Pavletich
Aida Pavletich is a Los Angeles writer and videographer.

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