Two celebrated singer-songwriters return together to the SOPAC stage. Lucy Kaplansky is a rare vocal talent, “a truly gifted performer…full of enchanting songs” (The New York Times). Richard Shindell is a writer whose songs paint pictures, tell stories, juxtapose ideas and images, inhabit characters, vividly evoking entire worlds along the way and expanding our sense of just what it is a song may be.
Lucy Kaplansky is a rare vocal talent, “a truly gifted performer…full of enchanting songs” (The New York Times). Blending Country, Folk and Pop styles, she has the unique ability to make every song sound fresh, whether singing her own sweet originals, covering Country classics by June Carter Cash and Gram Parsons or singing Pop favorites by Lennon/McCartney and Nick Lowe. Lucy’s iconic voice has been featured in film and on television, including commercials like Chevrolet’s iconic “Heartbeat of America” jingle. A Billboard-charting singer and one of the top-selling artists on Red House Records, she has topped the Folk and Americana radio charts and has been featured on shows throughout the world from NPR’s Weekend and Morning Editions to BBC Radio to CBS Sunday Morning. One of the most in-demand harmony singers, Lucy has sung on countless records, performing with Suzanne Vega, Bryan Ferry, Nanci Griffith and Shawn Colvin.
Raised by a piano-playing mathematician and a homemaker in Chicago, Lucy began singing in bars when she was still a teenager, even traveling to Norway to perform as a Country singer. When she was just out of high school, she took off for New York City, where she became part of the renaissance of the Greenwich Village Folk scene centered around Folk City and the Fast Folk recordings. Her compatriots included Suzanne Vega, The Roches, Steve Forbert and John Gorka as well as her frequent duo partner Shawn Colvin. The New York Times said it was “easy to predict stardom for her,” but instead, Lucy got a doctorate in psychology and started a private practice.
Eventually Shawn Colvin lured Lucy back to music, producing her debut album The Tide (1994). Red House founder Bob Feldman was blown away by the release and signed her immediately. Since then, she has released six solo albums with Red House and released radio-charting albums with the folk supergroups Red Horse (with Eliza Gilkyson and John Gorka) and Cry Cry Cry (with Dar Williams and Richard Shindell).
Lucy continues to perform all over the world. When not performing, she lives in New York City, where she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.
Richard Shindell is a writer whose songs paint pictures, tell stories, juxtapose ideas and images, inhabit characters, vividly evoking entire worlds along the way and expanding our sense of just what it is a song may be. From his first record, Sparrow’s Point (1992) to his most recent release, Careless (2016), Richard has explored the possibilities offered by this most elastic and variable of cultural confections: the song.
The path that led Richard to songwriting was both circuitous and direct. Taking up the guitar at the age of eight, he listened but imagined that composing a song was out of the question. After college and a nine-month stint in a Zen Buddhist community in Upstate New York, he headed to Europe with his guitar, finding something not approaching a livelihood performing in the Paris Metro, where he discovered “I loved the acoustics in those tunnels, but only when they were empty.”
Upon running out of money he entered Union Theological Seminary, where the celestial acoustics of the chapel inspired his first “keeper” composition: On a Sea of Fleur de Lis. Ostensibly a paean to the Virgin Mary, the song marked his rupture from the church and the beginning of his creative life. Its underlying themes – immanence and transcendence, human love and divine love, the particular and the general – have continued to resonate through subsequent work, right up to the present. In many ways, his new album Careless, represents a further exploration of those ideas.
Joining the songwriter scene in New York City led to a deal with Shanachie Records for Richard’s first three albums: Sparrows Point (1992), Blue Divide (1994) and Reunion Hill (1997). The latter, produced by multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, won the AFIM (NAIRD) award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1998. Its title track was covered by Joan Baez on her 1997 release, Gone From Danger. In 1998, Richard joined forces with his friends Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky to form Cry Cry Cry. The Folk supergroup toured in support of their highly acclaimed self-titled album, leaving audiences spellbound by their gorgeous three-part harmonies.
By then Richard was beginning to stretch out as a harmony singer, guitarist and performer. In 1999, Richard released a live band album, Courier that remains a fan favorite. The year 2000 brought the release of a new collection of originals, Somewhere Near Paterson, produced by Campbell. That year also saw a major life-change: with his Argentine wife and their two small children, Richard moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Taking a few years to get acclimated and learn the language, in 2004 he followed up with Vuelta (Koch Records), joining with Argentine band Puente Celeste. The decade’s next release was a collection of covers, South of Delia (2007), Richard’s first foray into production. More than simply a cover record, the song-selections and performances of South of Delia were that of an expatriate looking back at the country and culture he moved away from. His next collection of original songs, Not Far Now, was released by Signature Sounds in 2009. For 13 Songs You May or May Not Have Heard Before, which The Telegraph called “a stunningly good record”, Richard revisited some of his earlier material, giving fresh interpretations to old favorites.
In 2015 he joined forces again with Lucy Kaplansky to record another collection of covers, Tomorrow You’re Going, also produced by Larry Campbell. Consisting mostly of love songs, or love lost songs, it provided Richard and Lucy an occasion to revel in their distinctive, two-part harmony with the backing of a top-notch band (Byron Isaacs, Dennis McDermott, Bill Payne and Campbell) – all thanks to the participation of a committed community of fans who financed the project via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. The campaign more than doubled its funding goal in less than 48 hours.
Richard continues to tour nationally in the United States, with the occasional forays into Canada, the UK and Europe. Although known primarily as songwriter, Richard takes a more holistic view of his career. Producer, writer, singer, guitarist, interpreter: it all adds up to a life in music.
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