The school term just ended for our intern Zach Toll and so has his internship with us. We are sad to see him go and grateful for having had him on board while we did. We are looking for…
A couple weeks ago we launched a YouTube series called “Midweek Bellino Break”, videos under 2 minutes that cover behind the scenes aspects of my artist life. We release it at noon PST every other Wednesday. This week you get 2 episodes, cause we’re synching up with the mailer so that as a subscriber you will get MBB before everyone else.
#2 is a v/o audition...
If you're a lover of arts and music, you've been exposed to a growing conversation about how technology has made it difficult for musicians to make a living. Once in a while there comes an articulate spokesperson who bypasses all the BS and says it like it is. I am very grateful for all those who speak up on behalf of us artists, and in particular to...
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Ingredients: 16 oz dark chocolate
1.5 sticks of butter (12 tbsps)
1.5 cups of light organic brown sugar
3 quarters of a cup of very strong coffee
1 tbsp of vanilla extract or seeds from 3 beans
1 tbsp of almond extract
2 to 4 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder
1 half cup walnuts
fresh mint leaves
edible flowers optional for decoration
Click below for recipe!
I didn't know Joey and Sandra 2 weeks ago, except on Facebook where we met last year. They were demonstrating against a nuclear power plant and I offered to play music. That didn't happen, but when Joey found out I was playing in Morro Bay last month, he said "Call my girlfriend, you're staying with us." I spend 4 magical days in their heaven on earth. Joey Racano played me his unique rap CD, I loved it! What a character! They gave me a room with a huge bed. Showed me around, fed me, introduced me to their friends, we laughed and got to know each other. As if that wasn't special enough, they proceeded to...
What used to bug me about L.A. was my perception that too many people lived in the "one day I'm going to be a star" future. Truly I can't speak for others. But it became more important to me to figure out how to have my own goals and enjoy the journey. When you read this I'll be driving to L.A. ...
"Give Fans the Credit" - a new initiative by the Recording Academy
There is a new initiative by the Recording Academy asking digital distribution services to credit the songwriters, musicians, producers and engineers on the screen, just as they do for the artist song. Let's give both music fans and creators the credit they deserve.
What do you think? Will you sign the petition? Check it out here...
Frozen pineapple, sweet cherry, mango, coconut yogurt mini jars:
The recipe is...
Thank you to those of you who responded with creative stories about the origin of the name "La Fable:. They were all entertaining, one was very charming by Katrina Lashea of Anasa Yoga. This is what she wrote: "I think their story is that he was standing on the Pont Neuf and a gust of wind came and blew his hat off. She was on a boat below. His hat landed on her head. She yelled to him...
Thanks to my neighbor friend who offered me two of her planters, this year I started gardening again. I've rediscovered how much I love it! So I overdid it a bit: I planted 4 kinds of tomatoes, 4 kinds of peppers, green and red chard, kale, zucchini, thyme, garlic, green onions, potatoes, purple beans, spinach, cucumbers, beets and carrots. Here’s the first beet I unearthed:
I’m learning a few things too. When I pulled the first carrot this is what I found:
A carrot threesome! Next time I'll have to give my veggies a little more room.
Do you know someone? I don't mean...
As an entertainer I think 90% of my job is to get along with people. It's also to write songs, practice , keep an open mind and learn. To build relationships with experienced people who inspire me, and to keep my head screwed on with the right mindset. Also to share my experiences and to help support other artists. To build my fan base, plan, and live a life that gives me something to say! The list goes on….but I can't fully express my creativity if...
...I don’t get along with people. This year I’ve decided to go where I’m wanted and to be excited about the people I’ll meet. A friend invited me to perform at an event. She said: “They’re really sweet people”. What happened next were two performances where I felt very appreciated and inspired by the audience and the other performers. A sweet lady opened her house to us. I met wonderful people, made new friends, and went home very happy. I say go where you’re wanted, for the right reasons! It makes it easier to deal with the occasional “professional grump”. People are people. Pay attention and be good to the ones who make you smile.
There ‘s always more to learn, AND I’m tired of articles that start with some version of: "the 10 mistakes you're making if you want to be successful". In every field people charge money to tell you how you can be successful. Some have valuable stuff to contribute. But I’ve noticed a trend among people who want musicians and artists to believe they know what they need to do to be successful. A majority of them...
...are not successful artists. Which doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have valuable input. But it is their job to keep you believing they have the solution.
I think pure fear tactic approaches and articles entitled: “why you’re not successful” are a turn-off. Your knee jerk reaction is supposed to be: “Tell me what I should or shouldn’t do.” Yes there are things you can do -Michelle Shocked anyone?- to screw up your chances. But assuming that you’re reading an article in good faith to learn about things you hadn’t thought of, I think for the writer to grab you by your fear is a cheap tactic. How about titling the article: “Maybe you hadn’t thought of ...” or “Here’s a better alternative, to increase your chances...” Isn’t that more inviting? And supportive? How about we start using, and responding to, positive messages and interactions as attention getters?
Where do artists come from? I'm not referring to the cabbage patch, I'm sure if you're reading this you've heard about the birds and the bees. I'm talking about what pushes someone to be an artist. I think what motivates you is what makes the difference. I don't think wanting to be famous can make you an artist, though being an artist and wanting to be famous or successful are not incompatible. What do you think makes an artist? If wanting fame is what drives you there's a chance some will find you infamous, I'm thinking of...
Paris Hilton, who is not an artist as I see it. Though there is creativity in all of us. We choose to express it or not, and it takes many shapes. From personal experience I believe being an artist is not a choice, it's a calling. Whatever happened to you has created a need in you to contribute to the world in an artistic way. Years ago I couldn't articulate it well but I had come to the conclusion that the best I had to offer is my art. Artists are important. They put a smile on life. And just as artists and art beautify life and can help and accompany humans through all kinds of times, those who appreciate them and support them are just as important. Artists inspire, those who enjoy and support art make it possible for artists to share their gift. And they're just as much a part of the arts and artistic community as the artist.
I met Bobby Sharp in 2003. We were introduced by our common landlord. We soon became friends, I helped him keep his house clean and his papers organized. In 2008 he fell a couple times and after a couple hospital stays I also became his caretaker. In July 2012 one day I couldn't reach him, rushed to his home and found him on the floor. After a short stay in a nursing home I arranged for him to return home with 24 hour care. I knew the day he came home would be the most beautiful day here on out; he was so happy to return home. Subsequently ...
Life without Bobby is much different for me; for the last 10 years I spoke with him almost every day, to make sure he was ok. And also when I needed a laugh, or a better perspective. Bobby was a great listener with a great sense of humor and wonderful expressions: "Look before you leap", "You can't dance on every set", "You're going to stay home and take it easy!?", "Be cool", "I'm glad you called", "Can't see for looking", "Tempis fugit", "Tell you know who I say hello". And one of my favorites: "Listen with a third ear". He had learned that from a psychology book in the 50s. I used it on him sometimes and would say: "I've been listening to you with a third ear Bobby..." I can still see his look and his smile when he would catch me being a smart-ass. In context each one of these expressions were priceless and comforting. Bobby was a real gentleman. He always made sure to tell me how much he appreciated my help. I remember taking him to his medical appointments, and he would say: "I want you to know, I really appreciate this." He would say it a few times to make sure it reached destination. And I would tell him he was welcome, and I was glad he told me, and that though I wished it were under different circumstances I enjoyed spending time with him no matter what. Which was true. He was precious. When I would leave his home he made it a habit of standing at the door until I reached my car, and so we had this ritual where I would turn around and wave at him many times :"See you Bobby", "See You" he would say again, and we went through this 3 or 4 times until I reached my car. I used to wonder why he did this and decided one day it was his way of absorbing the moment and making every moment count, and letting me know how much he cared. Bobby had the rare quality and ability when you found yourself in his presence to slow down time. Suddenly when I would enter his house and visit him not much else mattered: he was there, a good friend, with wonderful stories to tell, warmth, humor, understanding, and beautiful songs he played me on the piano or his cassette player! In 2007 Bobby gave me a song to release that he had written in 1947, and for which Nat King Cole had shown interest. In 2011 and 2012 Bobby and I, and musician friends, recorded it together at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley: he played the piano part, later we sang it as a duet. It made him very happy to be in the studio again. It was Bobby's last recording and last time in the studio before he passed. To see "Hand In Hand - The documentary" click here. Bobby talks about his Tin Pan Alley days and "Hand In Hand" the song. And we sing together at the end. It is very touching and I'm so grateful to Lincoln Adler for having taken the initiative to produce this documentary which I think is a great tribute to Mr. Bobby Sharp. To get a copy of the duet Bobby and I sing together, "Hand In Hand", go here and buy your copy. It is only available on my last CD. Do me a favor: don't release it on the internet, and don't burn it for anyone, ask them to buy it if they like it. Thank you!
Here is Bobby at Fantasy Studios with all of us the day he came to record the vocals for Hand In Hand with me:
Photo by Kris Mikkelson
I am so grateful to have had such a wonderful man as a close friend for 10 years of my life. I miss him, and have discovered, call me crazy I don't care, that I can still have conversations with him! He doesn't respond physically, but I can run things by him, and imagine what he would say. And the sound of his voice will never leave my ears. I'm also grateful for our music collaborations and will continue to be inspired by him. On one of my last visits to him he was struggling with accepting his new lot in life: that he needed 24 hr home care to stay at home. He was of course hoping he could return to being independent at home. I tried to help him to focus on how lucky he was that he could afford to stay at home and have caretakers who were very good and loved him. And then I sang him 3 lines of Hand In Hand: "We will touch the stars up in heaven together, All summer long, And in winter weather". He had made sure to explain to me when we worked on the song that the lyrics referred to the seasons of life. When I sang him those lines, he looked up at me and said: "You're divine!" I was shocked, I said: "What did you say?" He repeated "You're divine" with a big smile. I had actually managed to calm him down. And said: "I'll take that Bobby". Knowing Bobby was not a religious man. It was one of the best compliments he ever paid me. Though we often both joked about our views and understanding of the existence of God.
Photo by Kris Mikkelson
My sweet friend and I at Fantasy Studios, 2011.
And at his home, 2012:
Photo by Kris Mikkelson
I have more wonderful memories of Bobby, with Bobby, to cherish than there is room to do so. And if you have read this far, thank you. This is a long blog for good reason, Bobby was a really sweet man. I only want to add 2 things: I am happy for Bobby as I truly believe he is more comfortable in the spirit world than he was the final months of his life on earth. And the other:
Rest In Peace Bobby, you are so loved, Clara
R.I.P. Robert Louis Sharp a.k.a Bobby Sharp
November 26, 1924 - January 29, 2013
It is with great sadness that I share with you that our Bobby is gone: Bobby Sharp, author of Unchain My Heart and many songs, friend extraordinaire, died peacefully January 29 at Kaiser Hospital. He fell last week and did not recover from the complications. Our Bobby is now with the Angels. Rest In Peace Bobby, you are loved.
photos by Kris Mikkelson
For as long as I can remember I have written daily "to do lists". Being somewhat overly ambitious, or as like to think in love with life and possibilities, my to do list for one day more often than not would have on it what would take a week to accomplish. So at the end of each day I'd feel like I had at best made a dent in the list. I changed two things: first I discovered the "calendar". I know, it may sound trivial, but by scheduling my list on a calendar it takes if off my shoulders and out of my head. It's no longer day to day, it's months ahead, and I review it once a week, and adjust as necessary.
Then, and this is the most important step: at the end of each day on my calendar there is a box called "List of Accomplishments". Before I wrap up my business work each day, I type in there what I HAVE done. OK, so some days I don't get to it, but I tell you, it is a simple thing to do, which has greatly helped me to call it a day and enjoy the rest of the evening, feeling accomplished rather than like there's so much more stuff to do. By focusing on what I did accomplish I feel better. And feeling good as I do what I love is the the first thing on my list. :)
I'm about to head to L.A. for the 3rd time in a month: the first time, I stayed at Motel 6 in Hollywood and attended the Independent Music Conference. Sat on a couple panels at the Musicians Institute and presented my own workshop. Had not been to L.A. for over 10 years. I was looking forward to learning, but also had come into my own, and wasn't looking for acceptance. The last time I went to L.A. over 10 years ago, I had meeting with agents, I was shy, believed I had lots to offer, but felt they all had what I needed.
Here are a few pix from House of Blues Nov. 1:
Counting my blessings?
With friends Jack, Ava Bird, and Raquel Ashley from Sydney Australia
Followed by an L.A. moment: when I got my car at the Valet Parking my friend asked if I would take a picture of him with this "guy", had no idea who he was, so I asked that he take one of us too! Turned out he was "Tommy Morello", guitarist for "Rage Against The Machine" :)
When I went to L.A. in October, I not only attended a great conference, the IMC, shared my experience on a couple panels, presented my own workshop and had the very validating experience of having 4 International artists ask for a mentoring session with me, and played 5 shows in 6 nights, I also made friends. Now when I go back, I go to see friends. Friends rule, artists who support artists rule! And that's been a lot of my current experience with traveling to L.A., so now I look forward to it. :)
I'm excited to be performing at the Kick Off Party for the Independent Music Conference on October 17 at The Pig and Whistle. For all info click here. Entrance is free, all you have to do is print the flyer you see and the Musicians Institute will let you in for free. If that's too complicated just let the door person know you're there to see me :)
I'll also be presenting a workshop at the IMC, the outline to a course I have written entitled: "The Power of Positive Action: Get out of Overwhelm and Chart Your Course". The exact Date and Time is TBA, if you're interested contact me on my site and I will forward you the info.You must be registered for the Conference to attend, the price is very reasonable at $90 for the full five days and nights.
CD RELEASE PARTY
Thank you to all you who came out to "This Is Happiness - Hand In Hand" CD release party show Saturday Sept. 22, we sold out Avonova ! in Oakland, CA. We were in wonderful company! My CD is available, click here.
Click here for a new feature review just come out about my new release. Thank you Kaitlin Klemp! @kaitlinklemp on Twitter
May 24 2011: I arrived at Fantasy at 11 after an audition in SF. I've had the pleasure of working here a few times now: this is some of what you see when you enter:
& here's the door behind which magic happens. I've placed my request to move in here, and keep checking my mail box...
Today on the schedule: adding strings to the song Bobby Sharp gave me: "Hand In Hand". With producers Greg Sankovich and Lincoln Adler, violist Darcy Rindt and cellist Beth Vandervennet. The strings were beautiful and made me want to cry! I sat on the couch in the control room and wanted to find a way to stop time. I also wished Bobby had felt up to being here, knew he was going to love the strings! Here below are pictures of our session at Fantasy Studios:
Mixer extraordinaire Adam Muñoz, Producers Lincoln Adler and Greg Sankovich, cellist Beth Vandervennet and violist Darcy Rindt
Darcy and Beth in action
Listening with charts
Grateful for working with a fun talented bunch: Greg, Lincoln, Darcy, Adam and Beth.
My brother, whom I love and don’t get to see half as much as I’d love to, lives in Paris, most of the time. Under his unassuming demeanor he’s quite the worldly musical shaker and mover. Usually, when I leave Paris, he says:
“It’s too bad, cause tomorrow I’m working on a David Bowie/Robbie Robertson//Leonard Cohen...-you take your pick-, show." And I sit on a plane thinking: “Damn my timing is off!” But, last year, we were in Paris visiting family, and he said: “Hey, the night before you leave I’m producing Charlie Watts’s “other” band: “The A,B,C, and D of the Boogie Woogie” at the New Morning. The New Morning has a capacity of 250 or so. Long story short, we got to see both their shows, quasi sitting on the stage, spitting distance from Charlie and the band, and you get to hear a short segment of how amazing they all sounded when you click on the video below :) What a treat it was :) And you're in for one now.
To view on a Windows Media Player, please click below:
To view on a Quicktime Player, please click below:
Having trouble viewing the video? You can also watch it at my Youtube Channel here!
OK First let me say when I say these are the Best Crackers In The World, that's a very American expression and it simply means they're very good, I know there are other good crackers in the world. I discovered these at a friend's Bday party, and had to have the recipe; I had a hard time exercising polite self-control and leaving some for anybody else. They are so easy to make! They have no flour! All you need is: 2 cups of flax seeds, 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds, 2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds, 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, 4 cups of water, cayenne pepper, salt. Utensils: Parchment paper, 2 cookie sheets, deep skillet or pot.
Boil the water. In the skillet on medium heat pour the oil, add the seeds. Stir them til they are well coated and warm, but keep them from roasting. One cup at a time add the boiling water stirring continuously in the same direction. The seeds will absorb the water and get "gooey"! Add the water one cup at a time til all in while stirring, you should end up with a somewhat thick cake-like batter. Turn off the heat.
Cover your 2 cookie sheets with oiled parchment paper (I use olive oil spray), pour 1/2 the batter on each. With another oiled sheet of parchment paper flatten the batter to a thin layer. I cover the batter with a sheet and roll a glass over it to even it out . Then remove the top sheet of paper. Ideally you have a thin even layer. Sprinkle cayenne sparingly and press in with the oiled paper so the spice sets in.
Place in preheated oven at 300 for 1.5 hrs. Every 1/2 hour alternate which tray is on top and bottom, unless you have a bigger oven then mine and they fit side by side!
Pull out, sprinkle with salt, let cool. Break them into pieces. You can experiment with the proportions of seeds, the higher the proportion of sunflower or pumpkin, the more "rustic" and hearty the cracker. Also experiment with adding different herbs and spices: in my last batch I added garlic and thyme to the batter.
These go great with: tapenade, cheeses, patés, guacamole, artichoke dip, awesome with butter and smoked salmon! Honey also.
Our friends welcomed us in their house in Carmel. We stayed an extra night, watched the sunset from the deck while drinking pineapple mango cocktails...one could get used to this! This morning Jan brought us a tray with coffee and a rose! And it was time to head home...
A few months ago I was contacted by DJ Jerry Louis, asking if I would do an interview on his radio show on KOWS in Occidental, before the release of my CD “This Is Happiness”. We made a road trip out of it. My assistant and I drove 2 hours North, through the beautiful California hills.
Jerry was a great host. That day flew by, and felt like a mini vacation. We returned through Bodega Bay, and stopped above the Golden Gate. Thank you, Jerry!
To watch my road trip, click below...
My assistant Melissa Lamming and KOWS DJ and host Jerry Louis
There are many simple creative ways ways to add beauty to daily life and celebrate each day. I think I got that from my folks: we shared food with friends, mom cooked, knitted, planted things, made pillows, clothes, painted, dad played all kinds of music and records, built things, took pictures, made bird houses and fed the birds. They still do!
I 'm lucky to live in a part of the world where...
...many flowers grow. When we go on walks, as we head home I pick a few. No I don't go into people's planted gardens, I pick a flower here and there off the side of the road. And I have tiny vases. I always keep one on my husband's desk and one on mine. I've read that bouquets invite prosperity, they definitely add joy, love and color when sitting at a desk. These are pics of this week's selection, enjoy!
We were leaving rehearsal, and before trombonist Mike Rinta could return to his car, Tom the local turkey made sure to let him know whose turf he was on!
The first time I made Limoncello was for my wedding. By the time our 77 guests went home the 13 bottles were empty, mathematically it was a success. Recently we inherited 2 cases of Meyer lemons, what else were we going to do? Make more Limoncello!
The base recipe we use is from Capri: for every 10 big lemons use 1 quart of alcohol, 1 quart of water and 18 ozs of sugar. I used Chardonnay Grape Vodka from Australia..cause it was smooth and cheaper than Ever Clear.
Remove the zest, put lemons in a big jar, cover with alcohol, close lid tightly, infuse for 3 weeks in a cool area filled with light, shake the jar once in a while.
Strain the mixture, make a syrup by boiling the water and sugar. When cooled combine alcohol-lemon and syrup.
Infuse 10 more days. Strain again and bottle. Store in the dark. The longer the better, one month at least.
In our last batch we made some variations; in some jars we mixed fruit and zest, in some we added blood oranges. So we have Fruity Limoncello, Zesty Limoncello and Lemorancello. We're planning a Limoncello party for August :)
I was Executive Producer on my new CD recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. One sure way to earn that title is to foot the bill for the recording. That also means making sure everyone is fed, cause days can be long in the studio and a group of underfed or badly fed musicians...let's put it this way: good healthy food makes for better energy and better music. In My Humble Opinion. So on days that were 4 hours long or longer, I prepared and brought the food. There were snacks to be had anytime throughout the day, -I learned about the importance of "craft service" on many movie sets-, and a full meal for when it was time for a break. It was great fun eating together. And being appreciated for my cooking which I love to do! Here are pictures of one day's menu, I listed every ingredient partly to avoid allergic reaction situations!
Our lounge and kitchen during our visit... in my dreams I live here. :)
I met Bobby Sharp -author of Unchain My Heart- in 2003 when I painted his apartment. A couple years later he told me he was thinking of a song for me and played me “Hand In Hand”, a song he wrote in 1947 that Nat King Cole expressed interest in when he played it for him! It was inspired by...a woman named Ruby.
The original sheet music for “Hand In Hand” was written by jazz arranger and bandleader Sy Oliver (Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald) in 1948. Here’s the sheet music:
And here we are Bobby and I on Easter afternoon, enjoying stories of his life:
I'd been to The Ridge Stop Café in North San Juan, they had a greatly decorated almost Fellini like outdoor stage. From that day I knew I'd like to shoot a video there. 2 years later, with the generous answer of the owner, Bella, we showed up for that purpose. The stage was a blank wood board. But Bella offered us the contents of her artistic storage and gave us free reign. So we decorated the stage with paintings, metal sculptures found in the garden and art from the shed. This was one of the 2 hottest days of the year and we sweated, and called local friends for the help we needed. Andrea and Jeff brought flowers the next day, Jeanne and Eric brought colorful sheets which we wrapped around the stage posts, Jean Renoir, yes related, showed up and gave a hand with sound. Then friends showed up when I sang. There you have it, everyone involved made it possible, and fun!
We posted this on the entrance of the Ridge Stop Café -29318 State Hwy 49
North San Juan, CA 95960
Back to Front, L to R: Director Kris Mikkelson, Claire Blake-Resor, Yours Truly, Singer Songwriter Andrea Stray, Jim Resor, a local friend, Tom Resor
Me with the man, Kris Mikkelson, whose enthusiasm and support and kindness I wouldn't want to and couldn't do all this without.
I recorded my first test vocal @ Fantasy Studios a year before I started recording my CD. I wanted what I was hearing to be miles from there, and I had no idea how to get the vocal sound I wanted; I had studied voice for 10 years with Judy Davis, who passed away in 2001. I was so devoted to her that it took me til 2010 to admit that I wasn't moving forward anymore. So I found a teacher online, I liked his approach, intent on freeing the voice. But he was in L.A. and very expensive. My producers suggested someone they'd been working with: Rocío Guitard. We had 2 months before the recording and initially we met twice a week.
Here we are, Rocío and I, at Fantasy Studios:
Rocío introduced me to a whole new way of vocal production. It takes a long time to undo years of habits, and I find it exciting to constantly strive to get better. I'm grateful to my producers for having introduced us, and to Rocío who not only was there as my coach when I recorded the vocals, but also added some wonderful background vocals on my single.
As did Bryan Dyer, what a gorgeous bass voice!
L to R and Back to Front: Frank Adler, Greg Sankovich, yours truly, Adam Muñoz, Bobby Sharp, Lincoln Adler, Corey Jennings, Brian Dyer and Rocío Guitard.
In July 2010 Bobby Sharp (author of Unchain My Heart) laid down the piano track for the song he gave me.
In January 2011, back from France, determined to record the rest of my new CD, I contacted Berkeley's Fantasy Studios Director Jeffrey Wood who introduced me to my new producers: Greg Sankovich and Lincoln Adler. I decided to only work with people who were excited to work with me. At our first meeting, based on the sounds I was after and the recordings they played me, and a gut feeling that these were awesome peeps, I decided I wanted to work with them.
Other than being great people to spend time with, and producers with great ears, Greg and Lincoln are über talented musicians, who have their own band together http://times4music.com and grace numerous musical projects with their talents. Greg plays keyboards like I hope to in my next life, and Lincoln plays sax that I'm sure makes Lisa of the Simpsons extremely jealous.
Here we are on the first day we met, just a year ago! wow, so much has happened since...we look better in person or in a picture taken by someone who knows what they're doing :)
With Lincoln Adler and Greg Sankovich at our first meeting 2.16.2011
As I’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy the amenities of private island living, I am appreciative of the vicarious experience offered by Clara Bellino’s newest EP. With a youthful voice that impishly and unabashedly skinny-dips its way through unencumbered – and eclectic - compositions, Clara Bellino is offering her own point of view...no strings attached.
Due, in part to the inclusion of Hand in Hand in this project, Clara Bellino has reminded us of her capabilities as a song writer...and introduced us to her talent as a song stylist. The most important thing this EP has done is make me want to hear the LIVE Clara Bellino experience.
Clara Bellino has the disarming quality of sounding like no one in particular yet someone distinctly familiar. As footloose and fancy-free as contemplation can be, this EP is not your typical ear candy. This is more like a shell on Clara Bellino’s private beach...one you playfully put to your ear as you rock back on your heels, listen and think, “This is Happiness.”
~ T. L. Murray
Owner, *Jazz-O-Mat Radio
I met Bobby Sharp in 2003 when we had the same landlord, who hired me to paint Bobby's apartment. We became friends and he gave me a song to record that he wrote in 1947 and never released: Nat King Cole was interested in it, but fell ill, and Perry Como showed interest , but lost the deal with his label. Here we are on the first day of recording. Fantasy Studios' Director Jeffrey Wood, Engineer / Mixer extraordinaire Adam Muñoz, and Bobby Sharp and I:
Bobby played the piano track. The beautiful song, "Hand In Hand", appears on my soon to be released CD. I sing it solo, and as a duet with Bobby.
Here are a few measures of what Bobby played that day: http://bit.ly/vZb6HX
In 2007 I met poster artist Wendy Wright at a poster show held by The Rock Poster Society in San Francisco. She won that year's young artist contest. I love her work, which is both modern and with a 60's style. And decided I'd like to hire her to design the artwork for my new CD.
We met again in 2008. My single is called "This Is Happiness". I decided lying in a hammock was a good image for that. And remembered my dad took a picture of me in a hammock when I was 3. Amazingly Wendy owned a similar hammock. First we recreated my dad's pic and Wendy's husband Dan Doerner took pictures of me in the hammock on the roof of their Haight Ashbury apartment.
Then I gave Wendy pictures of the French village in "La Creuse" where "This Is Happiness" was born and the lyrics to my song.
And asked her, for the cover of the CD, to mix the picture with illustrations of the village and the themes in the song. Off to the races we were! Wendy had no idea how much work she was signing up for. We worked on the artwork for the whole CD for over 2 years!
Here is the initial sketch by Wendy Wright:
To see more of Wendy's beautiful work visit: http:///www.wendy-wright.com
So Judy Davis went away. And I was left with ten years of learning from her, adopting her method, and hanging on to it for dear life, while enjoying the new results of her vocal wisdom. I started like most ladies in her class with a range in my real voice of roughly 5 notes, and thanks to her exercises I could sing close to 2 octaves in my real voice. Here are some of the things I understood Judy to believe, and I in turn believed myself, when it comes to how singing works:
* if I could hear a note in my mind's ear I could train my vocal muscle to produce it in my real voice
* falsetto was not enviable, though a lot of pop music and singers used it, according to Judy, singing in falsetto meant you were using the "false" vocal chords, those muscle folds next to the "real" vocal chords. Judy said that if you kept going back and forth between the two eventually your sound could slip; you might aim to hit a note in your real voice but the tissue between your real vocal chords and the false ones would become distended and you could no longer control where your sound would go.
* everyone had one falsetto, that could not be augmented on thickness or volume, you just have the one you're born with.
Other things I learned:
* sounds were formed by shapes made with your mouth. So we learned a notation system, each vowel and diphtongue combinations had a corresponding written symbol. We learned which ones were which by taking lots of songs and transcribing the vowels with those signs. And practiced them phonetically as such, to train our mouths to go where they were supposed to go to produce the correct sound.
Last week I had the good fortune to work on "Five Year Engagement", a feature film written by, and starring, Jason Segal, and Emily Blunt. I worked as a precision driver, and with the splinter, a.k.a. second, unit. On my last day, we shot a night scene as New Year's eve party revelers on a cable car. It drove us up and down steep San Francisco hills. Every time we came to the corner with cameras, we were to holler, blow our party horns and look like we were having a good time. At one point we were parked uphill and a few more actors climbed on board. One of them was an 86 year old cheerful woman named Beverley, who told us laughingly: "No, we didn't have dinner, just this chewing gum!". She hung on with the rest of us as the cable car laboriously climbed the street.
The next scene we shot we were patrons at the terrace of a North Beach restaurant, and I got really lucky: the Assistant Director partnered me with Beverley. We were mother and daughter. We were served Tiramisu and Crème Brulée and told "Mangia!". I had a great time that week: I got to work, with friends, some I hadn't seen in a while. It always feels like a privilege to me to work on any film; we're busy creating a parallel reality, each film is different, and happens only once. But of that whole week, the best time I had was when I shared dessert with Beverley. I knew the cameras were on us but I forgot about them. I could've sat there and enjoyed asking her questions all night. She told me about enjoying her life, the vegetable garden she was about to plant...she made that whole week with early call times and little sleep completely worth it. I had a great time working on "Five Year Engagement". The best part was meeting and talking with 86 year old Beverley. What a sweet beautiful inspiring lady!
We had a session at Fantasy Studios last week with my producers: they played on it, tenor and soprano sax and Hammond B3. But they also led the session fearlessly as the awesome positive good to be around talented conscious humans and producers they are. And when I walked in the strings were playing. I don't believe in a religious God, but at that moment I was thanking God, whoever he or she or they are. There are lucky moments like that in life, well they're not just lucky, I believe you have to participate in making them happen, but still they're lucky and special. Moments and times I won't forget. Thank you everyone involved: Greg Sankovich, Lincoln Adler, Mike Rinta, Darcy Rindt, Beth Vandervennet. and let's not forget Adam Munoz at the boards. Love them all.
Last November a very fat squirrel walked right up to me at my front door, absolutely intent and unafraid. I started feeding him regularly, he was the fattest squirrel I'd ever seen. We named him Buddy. I didn't like leaving him over the Holidays. But when we returned there he was, daily, usually around 11 am, on his fence, and daily we fed him walnuts, raisins, stale peanuts.., almonds, organic Turkish apricots! By now he had his own jar on the kitchen shelf. Then he disappeared for a couple weeks. And when he showed up again he was much skinnier. It took seeing another squirrel next to Buddy for us to realize that Buddy was not a boy! So we renamed her "Booty". And then it took our smart neighbor to suggest she probably had babies, for us to put it together; that's why Booty who used to be Buddy used to be so fat! In these pictures, I spent the morning working on a chart, and Booty spent it on the fence, eating or patiently waiting for more food. There's a special noise I make to call her and she runs over the roof to her fence. We feed her there or she climbs down her post and stands under our window. Sometimes if we've left the front door open and we forget she's there, she comes to find us in the house. Knowing she has babies out there I feed her as long as she sticks around.
All photos by Victor Owens, Eye Art 2011
You should've been there! Ira writes wonderful songs and is at once a great performer, charming, entertaining, funny and has a unique way with words and storytelling, all delivered with a warm make you weak in the knees husky voice . Do I sound biased? I am! Ira took a break during the show and asked that we stay, I wasn't going anywhere! He started the show with Roger Linn on guitar and then invited band mates Michael Olaf and Adam Lowdermilk on bass, drums and vocal harmonies. The turnout was good for a Saturday night with many choices. Ira has and will play to bigger audiences, it has to be! He is playing again Saturday April 23 at Bistro Angelica, 6 to 8 pm, as well as The Union Room in SF April April 21, 24, 28 and 29. http://www.theunionroom.com/ If you can, GO!
Listen to him here:
Berkeley Arthouse and Gallery owner Harold Adler & his "Adlerettes" @ the end of Ira Marlowe's show:
When I first moved to the United States and started performing live, it was clear to me I could benefit from vocal instruction. After sampling a couple not so great teachers - one had me lying on the floor pushing a 10lb bag of rice with my belly, not sure what that was supposed to accomplish - I followed a friends' advice who kept telling me to take classes from Judy Davis cause she was the best vocal coach in the world. There was a 3 year 550 applicant deep waiting list to get into the Judy Davis studio that year, 35 of us got in. I later found out that Judy said I got in because "anyone who speaks 4 languages can sing". I know I didn't get in because of how I was singing then; I was shy, mousy, very confused by the difference between English and French sounds, though I spoke both languages. I took singing classes from Judy Davis for 10 years. And if she were still alive she would be calling me an idiot right now, or something to that effect; Judy told it like it is, and one thing she always told us not to do is to tell anyone we took singing classes. She said when the praises came in just to act like we were born that way. Judy also called herself a vocal plumber, that's what she humbly said she did. But she did a lot more than that; she not only took my vocal range in my real voice from around 5 notes to around two octaves, she taught me about entertainment. She taught me about subplots. She taught me to think about what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it. And about how I wanted to treat my audience. Judy always said: if you lose them it's your fault! She said people came willingly to your show, they paid, and if they left it's cause you didn't entertain them. She wasn't big either on performers who sing with their eyes closed all the time, or who act like they're doing their audience a favor. I like to think I would've come up with all these notions had Judy not been a huge part of my growing up as an entertainer, cause I so agree with her. As an entertainer you have to give to your audience to connect with them. The fact that they give back is gravy. So I studied religiously with Judy for 10 years. You weren't allowed to miss one class, because as you learned the "vocal eases" that Judy had developed, indispensable information was given in each class. So whenever I traveled, and in 10 years I did quite a bit of traveling, I would join the class that was at the level where I'd left off. I got to study with a lot of different singers and just like Judy said, I learned a lot from watching them too. Judy taught me more than I can ever list. She was a bit like my shrink; when I got admitted to her class, my first band, that I naively thought I would be with til we made it huge, had just broken up. And week after week Judy was merciless, didn't spare my feelings, but made sure I left the class feeling on top of the world, having learned something, full of hope and inspired. And she was funny too. If you bored her when you got up to sing for your peers, an exercise I found terrifying, she would pretend to pick her nose. I spent years thinking everyone else knew what they were doing and I didn't. Then I found out other people felt that way too! I'll never forget when Judy met my family, she told the class that usually in a family there's at least one person who doesn't look so hot, but she sweetly said "not in the Bellino family. You think Clara looks good, you should see the rest of the family! Not a single bad apple!" She made me laugh. By the time I graduated she called me the mouse that roared. When I went up to the piano to do my exercises some students would leave the room; we practiced very focused sound and though her exercises are called vocal eases, they were NOT easy on the ear. I remember once, while on a summer tour, I was doing my "vocal eases" in our apartment in Paris on the 6th floor and had the windows open. My band mates came home laughing; they said out on the street two elderly men sitting on a bench were trying to figure out where that sound was coming from. ..Judy even taught me to tap dance; in our classes singers auditioned for Beach Blanket Babylon and other plays so Judy figured she would make sure we were prepared. At 80, wearing stilettos, she danced better than most of us ever could. Judy was one of the first choreographers for MGM. And she told us that that's where she found a need to develop a singing method; a lot of the dancing chorus girls and actresses also had to sing. Judy taught the Judy Davis method and never retired. And then she had the nerve to pass away:
(01-31) 04:00 PST Oakland — 2001-01-31 04:00:00 PST Oakland -- Judy Davis, a legendary vocal coach whose students included Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Mary Martin, Grace Slick, Eddie Money and many other noted and lesser-known singers, died of heart failure Friday at her Oakland home. She was 81.
An expert in the physiology of vocal sound projection, Ms. Davis was famous for teaching singers how to breathe properly, enunciate and strengthen their vocal cords in order to project freely and control the sound. She devised a series of vocal exercises that are used by singers around the world.
RIP Judy, you certainly earned your rest.
I just played a benefit for Musicians For Peace with my band. At this benefit for Musicians For Peace, Alan Moore, founder of Musicians For Peace, mistakenly announced that I would sing a song called "Peaceful Solution" written by Willie Nelson. We at Musicians For Peace are grateful that Willie joined us, but just to clarify: in 2004 I wrote a song "Peaceful Solution" (© 2004) and released it on my CD "Embarcadero Love" in 2005. In 2006 I was invited to join "Musicians For Peace". Alan Moore included my "Peaceful Solution" on the organization's compilation CD, which you could buy or get if you joined Musicians For Peace.
* I wrote "Peaceful Solution" during the "Bush years" when I was tired of hearing American actions justified as long as they made money. The first line is pivotal: "As long as money is enough of a reason, somebody pays with misery", and epitomizes war as being between the haves and the have nots. When I released my CD, my distributors asked if I would donate a song. I picked "Peaceful Solution" because, if any song, that one should be free. Which is also the reason why I donated it to the Musicians For Peace compilation.
* Then in 2007 Willie Nelson joined Musicians For Peace, and also released a song called "Peaceful Solution" (© 2008) and founded The Peace Research Institute. To listen to one of his versions, with his lyrics and music, go to:
Willie Nelson's "Peaceful Solution" is also free and he has offered anyone who wants to sing it or film it, the opportunity to have their recording/video posted to his site "The Peace Research Institute".
*Mr Bush is no longer President and world peace is still a work in progress. Hopefully our musical contributions help!
*You can download my song "Peaceful Solution" for free here:
SIMPLY SIX: Clara Bellino
Clara Bellino is a singer/songwriter from California.
1. For many artists, they cite a for themselves when they knew they wanted to be a singer. For many it was the appearance of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, to another generation it was the Beatles’ appearance on Sullivan half a decade later. Is there such a defining moment for you?
It was putting myself to sleep when I was 9 listening to David Bowie, I loved his , metaphors, imagery and personal expression. I was writing poems, decided I was going to sing them, put them to music. I had just started .
2. When you’re not creating music what are you listening to? Who are some
of your favorites?
I listen to a wide array of music: what I catch on radio, in my car, I love Spanish, sung, and Brazilian grooves of all kinds. But also classical, , japanese pop, instrumentals. Music that has something to say and does it in an entertaining personal non preachy way that involves me and talks to me not at me.
3. What would you say is your greatest moment so far as an artist, either on record or live?
There have been a few. Most recently it was doing an internet radio interview with someone in Indiana knowing that 400 kids in 2 orphanages in Kenya and India were listening in to my song we picked for them "Goodnight Baby", and it lifted them up. I was choked up listening, and when I found out it cheered them up. Playing the Olympics in my hometown in 1992! was pretty special too.
4. Do you believe music can change the world or is just something to listen to? How much can music influence current events?
Music does change the world, imagine the world without it?
5. How has technology affected the music industry? How has technology affected your career as a musician?
Technology I suppose has benefited and hindered music as I see it; technology gives me more control over being exposed around the world and gives me the ability to connect with the people who enjoy what I do. Musically speaking, I still prefer the sound of real instruments played by people playing together who know how to play them.
6. Now for my Barbara Walters question: If you were a pair of shoes what type of shoes would you be?
A fuzzy pair of warm slippers :)
Influence current events? sure if we all sing together..
Clara Bellino Website: http://www.clarabellino.com/
Press:"Bellino's sweetness evokes a younger Faithfull,a playfulness Deborah Harry had with Blondie, and even an existential touch of the Velvet Underground's Nico, before the German songstress sank forever beneath the of Stygian gloom." Bruce Bellingham, Arts and Entertainment/ San Francisco Northside
Hailing from Paris, France, and growing up in a small village of the French Alps, Clara Bellino blends heartfelt rhythms, magical lyrics, and unimaginable emotions into a rare mixture of solid American songs with an unfettered sense of and a European sense of what is amusing. Americans probably remain puzzled by her songs in French, but are still moved by the rhythms and the . Her English songs are instantly understandable and the range between Europop and American Music is beguiling. All you have to do is listen to “Potential Criminal” or “Goodnight Baby” and you won’t get these beautifully produced songs out of your head.There is no single word that describes her songs. It’s a mixture of thoroughly requited love and, at odd times, real aggression, but with a sense of humor that never fades. Critic Bruce Bellingham compares her work to that of Faithful, Blondie’s Debby Harry and Nico before her involvement with The Velvet Underground.
Listen to it here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/The-Peoples-Showcase/2009/10/28/Clara-Bellino
one foot on a banana peel
you can call me brave
but I know the deal”
Bellino’s music has been described as a cross between Suzanne Vega and David Bowie, but her sound still has its own unique quality. Bellino, who was born and raised in Paris, France and studied classical music in the Conservatory for ten years, creates music that defies genres and boundaries. There is a feeling of past, present and future in Bellino’s music; latin, jazz, pop, and rock rhythms infuse her songs with a fresh and engaging vibe.
“Tout Est Fini,” the first song on the album is sung entirely in French. While I don’t understand the lyrics, it has a catchy, rhythmic beat and the second half of the song has a chanteuse like quality to it. Listening to it, I can almost imagine myself sitting in a postwar Paris nightclub.
Bellino’s voice has a childlike quality to it, but don’t let that lull you into a state of peaceful oblivion. Her lyrics can be humorous, haunting, lyrical and surprising, but never cliché. In “Peaceful Solution,” Bellino sings “give me the heart to make peace every day, let me be part of the solution, let me be a peaceful solution, let me be a peaceful solution.” The more I listen to this CD, the more I like it, and that’s all I need to know.
Review by Gita Tewari