Leading from the Heart

Shelly Rudolph and a World Filled with Soul

by Brett Leigh Dicks

While music can transport a listener to far off places
emotionally, spiritually, and even geographically, it also leads
its creators on an equally tantalizing journey. In presenting her
evocative variety of soul, Portland-based musician Shelly Rudolph
has traversed the breadth of our nation. From Los Angeles to New
York, she has fed her musical muse with the experiences of life.
And those experiences have not only invigoratingly worked their way
into her sound, but have molded and shaped her heart and soul.

Yet the location that has imparted perhaps the most significant
influence on Rudolph’s music has been Santa Barbara. It was here
Rudolph crossed paths with musician Joe Woodard (the guitar-playing
author of, among other things, The Indy’s Fringe Beat column),
engaged herself with Tom Lackner’s Tompound Studios, and recorded
her newly released album Water in My Hand, which navigates a
rhythmic landscape just as wide ranging as her journeys. Lush in
both feeling and tone, Rudolph seamlessly blends her rich palette
into a sound that she affectionately calls “world soul.”

“I actually made that up myself,” enthused Ruldoph. “I was just
trying to find where I fitted in and ‘world soul’ just popped into
my head. Even though I have traveled a lot, one thing I realized is
that, no matter where I am in the world, I am still me. I’m still
experiencing everything through my ‘Shelly’ way of feeling things.
The phrase seems to cover the world and how we’re all connected to
one intimate place so well.”

Despite her nomadic adventures, Rudolph has recently carved
herself quite an inspiring creative niche in Oregon. It takes
something special to lure her away from Portland’s natural beauty
and artistic inspiration that nurtures both her music and spirit,
but the chance to once again join forces with the musicians who
helped craft her album is the perfect opportunity. With Woodard,
Lackner, and Ken Stange in tow, Rudolph is about to set forth upon
a tour of Southern California.

The tour will not only offer Rudolph the opportunity to
reacquaint herself with her collaborators, but her performance at
SOhO will also let her revisit the town that played such a
significant role in the album’s evolution, something of a musical
homecoming for the songs. One might suspect that bearing your heart
and soul to a roomful of listeners is a rather daunting prospect,
and something such an emotive musician might be conscious of.

“Now I am, for sure!” laughed Rudolph when posed that question.
“I do a lot of jazz and blues standards and when I started adding a
couple of the songs from my album to the set I can feel my heart
start pounding. It is amazing how different it feels. No matter how
much I feel someone else’s words, it is much more scary to be
speaking with my own. It is very exciting, but it also gives me a
very vulnerable feeling, too. But I am not really in charge of it
at all anyway. The songs just come out and an album takes its own
direction. I just go wherever the music leads me.”

4•1•1 Shelly Rudolph plays a CD release party
at SOhO on Monday, April 10, at 8 p.m. Call 962-7776 or see


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