In 2001, Claudia Russell was named Artist of the Year by WUMB, the largest folk music radio station in the US. Claudia is a gifted vocalist and a musicians' musician, having appeared as a backup singer on recordings by some of the best songwriters on the LA independent music scene including Daryl Purpose, Alan Whitney, Allison MacLeod, Anny Celsi, Jenny James, Chad Watson and Mark Governor.
As a solo artist, Claudia plays a style all her own: eclectic folk music with traces of all her musical loves--blues, western swing, rock and county. Drawing from original compositions, obscure gems, folk and pop classics and contributions from her many talented friends, Claudia's performances are truly heartfelt and entertaining. Using humor, personal stories and her "Who me?" attitude, Claudia quickly bonds with audiences, winning them over with her powerful voice and signature guitar voicings.
Claudia has extensive performing experience. As a band member, she played a key role in Maggie's Farm, leading to a record with JRS Records (distributed by BMG) and appearances around the country, including Farm Aid where she shared the stage with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. She also was one third of the Life Is Grand Band, an award winning vocal trio that featured original material, satirical rewrites of classic songs and stunning acappella vocals. Their 1990 FastFolk recording has been added to the Smithsonian/Folkways collection, making them somewhat of a national treasure!
Claudia has three times appeared in the American Folklore Theater production of Old Friends, a musical revue featuring the songs of Paul Simon. In the winter of 1999, she reprised her role in Old Friends with a six week run at the Milwaukee Rep.
Claudia been named twice as a New Folk Finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival near Austin, Texas. Past finalists have included Cheryl Wheeler, Shawn Colvin and Lyle Lovett, three of Claudia's favorite performers. The experience of being asked to appear at Kerrville, and getting a pep talk from Kerrville promoter Rod Kennedy inspired Claudia to record her first CD as a solo artist. This year, Claudia was again a finalist at Kerrville, and played two new unrecorded songs there: Just Like You, and Stars, co-written with Anny Celsi. This is ironic, because Claudia claims to have only finished about ten songs in her entire life!
Song Food, Claudia's debut CD, was recorded at Pacifica Studios in Los Angeles and NuStar Studios in Memphis. Claudia worked with many of her favorite musicians and credits producer Mark Governor with helping her make the record she always wanted to make.
Musical talent runs in Claudia's family. Her father, Gilbert Russell (born Val Rosing) was vocalist for the BBC Dance Orchestra in the 1930s, and had a million selling record with Teddy Bears' Picnic. Her mother, Marilyn, was a dancer and appeared in White Christmas and the Jimmy Durante TV Show.
Claudia's grandfather, also known as Val Rosing, was an Russian opera singer and director and moved to California to direct operas at the Hollywood Bowl and the American Opera Company in San Francisco.
Claudia has been touring the country in support of Song Food with her husband Bruce Kaplan accompanying her on mandolin and guitar. They have been invited to play at many top folk venues including the Electric Brew, Club Passim, the Point, Stone Soup, Linden Tree, McCabes, Uncommon Ground, Common Fence Point and the Boston Folk Festival.
They have also made a number of live on the air radio performances including the longest running folk show around, Roz and Howard Larman's Folkscene, and three appearances on WUMB with the patron saint of folk music, Marilyn Rea Beyer.
One of the most satisfying aspects of performing around the country has been the opportunity to share bills with great performers such as Peter Rowan, Tish Hinjosa, Terri Hendrix, Bill Morrisey, Jimmy La Favre, Roy Zimmerman, Steve Forbert, Bill Staines, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, Kevin So and Rosalie Sorrels.
On a personal note, Claudia's interests are many: she has been an apprentice pie maker, operated her own giftware business, and collects antique postcards, matchbooks and other ephemera. A native of Los Angeles, she lives in Berkeley CA with her husband Bruce and their two cats, Minnie and Mo.