|Fredericksburg Songwriters' Showcase||RJ Cowdery|
the many years since she wrote her first songs as a teenager, Rj Cowdery
experienced a topsy turvy lifetime of stops and starts, with exciting
creative breakthroughs followed by distractions and obligations that
took her away from her lifelong dream of being a professional
singer/songwriter. The Columbus, Ohio based folk artist, who first
developed a regional following in the mid-90s with her breakthrough
album "Bernie's Daughter," has been making up for lost time this past
year, receiving major accolades at some of the most prestigious folk
festivals in the U.S. and now releasing her highly anticipated,
heartfelt debut album One More Door.
A compelling gathering of 13 songs, One More Door— a title very much reflective of the exciting promise of her current career good fortune -- was recorded live in only two days in Parkersburg, West Virginia (near Belpre, Ohio, the town she grew up in) with percussionist Ammed Solomon and guitarist Michael Lipton, who are both band members with International Public Radio's Mountain Stage. The sessions for the recording, which were produced by renowned singer-songwriter Todd Burge, also features the stellar bass playing of Don Dixon, a veteran singer, songwriter, musician and producer of such pop icons as R.E.M., Marti Jones, Kim Carnes, Hootie & The Blowfish and Marshall Crenshaw.
"The interesting part of One More Door is that while all of these songs are right in the pocket of today's folk music, the album doesn't have an overriding theme or concept that ties everything together," says Rj. "I essentially write about the things I see in my life, through making observations about myself and those around me. Over the years, some people have said that the experience of coming to hear me sing is like listening to a secret I'm sharing or letting them in on. So there's always this sense of intimacy, even if the songs aren't about me. Communicating through my music is something that makes me feel good about myself and I love when I'm getting through to people and they understand where I'm coming from."
Rj's past few years on the folk festival trail have been nothing short of extraordinary. In 2007, she was a co-winner of The Mountain Stage New Song Contest, one of North America's premier showcases of emerging performing songwriters. The contest finals were held in New York City and were part of a summer long process of live regional rounds held in some of the best listening rooms in the U.S. and Canada. In May, 2008, she was selected as a co-winner of the prestigious Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Contest in Kerrville, Texas— at 37 years, the longest running music festival of its kind in North America and a Mecca for singer/songwriters of varying musical styles. The songs Rj sang at this event were "One More Door" (about two people who go their separate ways yet never stop thinking about the other over the years) and a beautiful, reflective look back at childhood memories called "Now and Then."
Other key songs on One More Door include "These Ties That Bind," touching on the importance of family and taking chances in one's life; the feisty, country flavored "kiss-off" song "State of Mine" and "There She Goes," a spirited story song about a tomboyish girl with a passion for racecar driving.
In 2008, she also received an Honorable Mention at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colorado, was a 2008 Folk Alliance Official Showcase Artist and performed at New York's Falcon Ridge Folk Festival's Emerging Artists Showcase. Also on the bill at Falcon Ridge were genre icons Lori McKenna, John Gorka, Patty Larkin, Dar Williams and Janis Ian.
While Rj only recently began performing again at these festivals and numerous coffeehouses throughout her home state of Ohio, over the years she has racked up an impressive slate of performances that took her everywhere from Cleveland and Cincinnati to Memphis and Telluride, Colorado; she also went on a Borders Books and Music tour which included shows in Akron, Columbus, Chicago and Indianapolis. She has appeared in concert with pop/folk icons Steve Forbert, Jonathan Edwards, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Sally Fingerett, Bill Miller, Don Dixon and Christina Olson.
"I'm in a good place in my life now to fully embrace all of the opportunities that are coming my way, and after a long time, I'm finally ready to do my music full time," says Rj. "I'm not about bells and whistles, I just like to sing my songs for people and hope they will enjoy them. When I'm not out there enjoying performing for audiences, my focus is always on writing better songs. It's always encouraging when people come up and say that one of my songs touched them in a certain way or made them cry, but that's just a natural outgrowth of doing what I do and sharing what's in my heart as honestly and with as much conviction as I possibly can."
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