What happens when you blend the powerhouse vocals and heartfelt lyrics of an artist like Brandi Carlile with all the sass and spunk of Regina Spektor? You have the mix that inspired Tara Velarde’s unique sound. She’s a femme fatale with a heart, and all signs point to an unstoppable year.
Diva folk is Velarde’s way of embracing the musical journey that led her to songwriting in the first place. Born into a musical family, Velarde was practicing the art of crooning and creation from an early age. As she grew up, she became fascinated by dance and musical theater, most recently starring in Broadway Rose’s West Side Story.
In fact, it was an experience post-performance that inspired the song featured in this week’s Rye Room Session. Velarde writes, “[I] was out for a cast karaoke night (which is a riot with a bunch of theater kids), and someone snapped a photo and posted it online... there I was standing tall and solitary in the middle. [I asked myself], "Why do I gotta be such an island"... grabbed my guitar and that became the first line of the song. It's poking fun at myself for always needing to be so self-sufficient, and it's a sharp reminder that there are a lot of things in life that are best reached when you collaborate rather than isolate.”
For new fans of her music, that story typifies Velarde’s style and sound. She is self-assured, with all the confidence of a powerhouse diva (and the soaring vocals to match), but also has a level of personal awareness and reflection that colors her music with a distinctive, soulful tone. So how does this iteration of Velarde’s sound fit into her body of work? She reflects, “I've got such a wide range of influences... on the ‘diva’ side, I love listening to soul, gospel and blues rock, while on the ‘folk’ side I have an affinity for sweet ballads, subtle acoustics and singer-songwriters. Diva folk brings them together while still giving them their own space.”
In any case, Velarde has a lot more in store for listeners. With excitement that leaps off the page, she writes, “So many things are happening in 2018! We are releasing a single in the spring, touring further through the US than ever before, and embarking on our first international tour to Italy. And that's just the next six months! Beyond that I'm excited to keep recording, playing live around Portland and beyond, collaborating with amazing musicians, and meeting more music lovers everywhere I go.”
Experience Velarde’s diva folk in person on Thursday, March 15 at The Old Church with fellow female forces in the Portland music scene, Anna Gilbert and Laryssa Birdseye. This stacked lineup promises to be an incredible show, boasting a triple release. Could 2018 be the year of the folk divas? Because these ladies are ready to stand and deliver.