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Claudia Schmidt sings in ‘open-hearted’ key

May 1, 2012 - by Lilli Kuzma
reprinted with permission from Sun-Times Media

Claudia Schmidt has been lighting up rooms for decades. This high-energy performer is an exceptional talent whose charm and vibe have established her as a “must-see” act, and one that brings fans back again and again.

With a foot in folk and a foot in jazz, and also a hand in blues, humor, spoken word, and storytelling, Schmidt delivers her expansive repertoire with her powerful voice and music.

She has been featured on public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Mountain Stage,” and was the subject of a KTCA-TV St. Paul documentary, “I Sing Because I Can’t Fly.” She has toured North American and Europe, and has performed in venues large and small, everything from clubs and coffeehouses, to 4,000-seat theatres and large festivals.

CD release

The Minneapolis-based singer has a new CD, “Evidence of Happiness,” a collaboration with another acclaimed veteran of the folk scene, Sally Rogers. It’s been some 21 years since the two worked together on a recording. They will have a CD release event at Evanston’s S.P.A.C.E. on May 13.

“Our voices are quite different, but we’ve always had this amazing blend,” said Schmidt. “It’s like we were sisters or something. Sally and I have always had the easiest of times working together, we get the job done, there’s no ego stuff, just great chemistry.”

Schmidt said her songwriting is in high gear at the moment.

“Since January I’ve been writing like a maniac,” she said, “some of it is kind of ecstatic writing, some of it fun. It’s different, as I seem to be ‘hearing’ differently, the music is different chordally. And there’s so much (new material) that I can’t keep up with it, it’s just flowing out.”

Always writing

Schmidt’s songs grow out of her copious notes, she explained.

“I haul these notebooks around and keep going through them,” she said. “I’m also writing music for a musical about Amelia Earhart, as the composer and lyricist. Coming up on a deadline, so I’m having to work on that too.”

(Schmidt’s richly varied background includes a Jeff Award for her work in Frank Galati’s 1992 production of “Good Person of Szechuan” at the Goodman Theatre.)

The other new pieces, she said, are in a positive vein.

“I feel like everything is so charged right now. Everyone expects you to be political. But what I’m feeling is in a different place. And it feels like the work I need to be doing now. Songs about being open and open-hearted. A song may be in the guise of romantic love, but it’s more about going to that place. I just feel that it’s what people need to have showered on them right now.”
 
 
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