Sunday, 28 October, 2007 12:51 PM
CMA New Artist Spotlight: Elana
BY TODD V. WOLFSON
recording artist Elana James
2007 CMA Close Up News Service
Elana James' self-titled
debut is swinging musical proof that, sometimes, a bump in the road
can provide the perfect wakeup call. James spent eight successful
and well-traveled years as fiddler/vocalist for acclaimed Austin,
Texas-based western swing outfit, Hot Club of Cowtown. Hot Club
was touring with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson when the decision was
made to take an extended break. Right at that moment, Dylan called,
and James began touring as a member of his band.
Inspired by Dylan's career
longevity and on-the-road fortitude, James resolved to record her
own album her own way, enlisting the help of old friends including
legendary Texas fiddler Johnny Gimble. The resulting project, released
Feb. 27 on James' own label, Snarf Records, and produced by James
with Mark Hallman, is a rare gem of an album that finds James spreading
her formidable musical wings.
The album features a
50/50 mix of standards and inspired originals, all delivered with
a sly wink and lifted by James' charming vocals. James moves easily
from the fiddle-spiced swing of "Twenty-Four Hours a Day"
to the deep-and-dark Appalacian meditation of "All the World
and I." A cover version of Dylan's Nashville Skyline classic,
"One More Night," completes the picture.
A native of Prairie Village,
Kan., James studied classical violin from the age of 5, picking
up music from her mom, a concert violinist, and her winning stage
persona from her gregarious dad. After high school, she studied
at Manhattan School of Music and was soon amazed to be jamming with
and learning from some highly regarded players including Cliff Bruner,
Gimble, Hoot Hester and Kenny Sears. For James, pouring all of that
invaluable experience into her first solo project has been a life-changing
"I'm kind of starting
over with new fans," she said. "It's kind of a freeing
situation - you do what you do because you want to do it."
IN HER OWN WORDS:
Who are your musical
"Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan."
Which song would
you secretly like to cover?
"'Ripple' by the Grateful Dead. Ah, now it's not so secret.
I love that song."
What CD is on your
"Woody Guthrie, The Asch Recordings Vol. 1: This Land is Your
What book is on your
"The Dead and the Living, poems by Sharon Olds."
What song do you
wish you had written?
What moment in your
life would you relive if you could?
"It hasn't happened yet."
On the Web:
is Detroit's exclusive media outlet for this syndicated weekly column!