Kristina Olsen is one of the most entertaining and compelling performers on the international folk circuit. A superb multi-instrumentalist (acoustic guitar, steel-body slide guitar, saxophone, concertina and piano) as well as an award-winning songwriter with a big bluesy voice, Kristina has audiences around the world coming back for more. Her mix of powerful songs ranging from sassy bottleneck blues to lilting ballads to swing jazz to raunch and roll (as well as her hilarious storytelling) makes for a diverse and satisfying musical experience, on stage and on disc.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Haight-Asbury during the 1960's, Kristina's approach to music and life was formed by that environment of vital cultural expression, social activism and diverse musical influences. She now calls Venice Beach, Los Angeles home but rarely sees it from touring ten months a year.
2004 sees the release of Olsen's tenth recording, 'In Your Darkened Room' which marks her fourth CD recorded in Australia. 'In Your Darkened Room' was recorded on an organic solar powered farm in northern NSW, chosen for the beautiful acoustics and lack of electric hum and motor noise. Australia's own cellist Peter Grayling and accordionist George Butrumlis joins her as well as American musicians Paul Elliott (violin) and Ed Johnson (harmony vocals). 2002 saw the release of 'All Over Down Under', a live recording from the Australian trio tour with Peter Grayling and George Butrumlis. In 1999 'The Truth of a Woman' was released and was one of the top CDs surveyed in folk airplay. In 1998 'Duet' was released in Australia, a CD of duet's between Olsen and Australian cellist Peter Grayling. In the previous six years Olsen released four critically acclaimed CDs on the Philo/Rounder label.
The Sydney Morning Herald has this to say about Olsen's recent perfomance at the Blue Mountains Festival in Australia in March 04 and her new release 'In Your Darkened Room':
'Olsen, an itinerant troubadour who regularly graces Australian folk festivals, was at her most engaging. Such was the candour of her songs and chatty tales that it would impossible for anyone with blood in their veins not to empathise with her. Her full-throated voice and crisp guitar served up such diverse subject matter as crop-dusting and prostitution, while a revealing yarn about life- drawing classes introduced The Truth of a Woman. From her new CD came In Your Darkened Room, the title track to an album containing some of her finest work, a black frost edging her usual warmth and humour.'
Such respected artists as Eric Bibb, Fairport Convention and Mollie O'Brien have covered and recorded songs by Olsen. Olsen has also worked as a session musician on numerous artist's albums including playing the hammered dulcimer on Michelle Shocked's album 'Short Sharp Shocked' on PolyGram. Olsen has performed as a multi-instrumentalist in plays for the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles' Music Center. Olsen won the Kerrville Song writing award her song for battered women, 'I'm Keeping This Life of Mine'
In 2002 alone, Olsen toured in Australia, Scotland (for the Celtic Connections Festival), England, Bangladesh (for a benefit concert), New Zealand, and the USA. Kristina has been part of a songwriters' group for over two decades and has taught songwriting, slide guitar and dance for musicians at adult music camps from Alaska to NYC to the UK to Australia for over a dozen years. Olsen is a frequent contributor to Acoustic Guitar magazine, writing articles on guitar and performance technique.