“On a frigid day recently, Christa Ebert showed me upstairs to her West Park studio. Among the many effects pedals, microphones, and audio equipment stood a vintage projection screen – the kind of old screen that calls to mind the musty smells of a grade school AV closet. This borrowed screen will play a key role at her performance this Friday at the Akron Recording Company (February 8), along with her other gear in tow. As part of her artist residency for Akron Soul Train, Christa Ebert, better known by her stage persona, Uno Lady, has created a film to accompany her already mesmerizing live performance.
If you’ve never seen Uno Lady live, let me attempt to explain. A self-trained musician, Ebert composes songs mostly using just her voice. She’s been described as a “one-woman ghost choir”, which I find particularly apt. Her music includes dream-like layers of her own voice, looping like spells and chants, ethereal tones, instruments and beats all knit together into one lush soundscape. Every time I’ve heard her sing, I’ve had goosebumps – the beauty of her voice soaring, cutting through the air is so enchanting it can command the hairs on my arms to stand at attention.
I’ve seen Uno Lady perform many times over the years – she was the recipient of a CPAC Creative Workforce Fellowship, a Panza Foundation Award, and has performed at many venues and galleries: Transformer Station, the Cleveland Museum of Art, etc. But for the first time, she will be including a film component as part of her live show – thanks to Akron Soul Train. Akron Soul Train is an artist residency program that grants fellowships to provide resources for all creative disciplines – Ebert is the first musician they have supported.
As she explained, “For my Akron Soul Train artist-in-residency I proposed to take my shows to the next level, invest in a better camera (I was using a GoPro), and start making visuals for my performances. I am a visual person, captivated by imagery, and feel there is a cinematic element to my music. I’d like to write compositions for film and figured I may learn something if I tried it the other way around.”
If you can’t make her show in Akron on Friday, she will also be performing (with her film) at 78th Street Studios smART Space at the next Third Friday – on February 15, from 7-8:30pm. Don’t miss it.”
PERFORMANCES by the 2018 Panza Foundation bands: The Village Bicycle, Uno Lady, FreshProduce, and Pillars.
HUGE RAFFLE of musical gear, services, and other awesome stuff. The Panza Foundation will also announce the bands it is supporting in 2019. Have a good time and support the local, independent music scene. link to event page
Akron Soul Train announces 2018-19 fellows; nearly doubles number of artists supported
CANVAS MAGAZINE, CLEVELAND – “After supporting a total of seven local artists since its inception in 2016, the Akron Soul Train announced its latest class of fellows would nearly double that figure.
Thirteen emerging and established artists will serve as Akron Soul Train fellows from September 2018 to August 2019, including the program’s first artist of color, first non-Ohioan and first two musicians, says Natalie Grieshammer, Akron Soul Train arts and programming manager.
The Akron Soul Train fellowship selection committee reviewed 70 applications. Each of the 13 selected will lead a community program during their fellowship as well as present a final exhibition or performance in Akron to share the artwork they created.
“Akron Soul Train is thrilled to be supporting so many new artists this fellowship round. Expanding the number of artists we support allows us to not only validate the role of excellent local and regional artists, but helps enrich the greater Akron arts landscape,” Grieshammer says. “Since each fellow will be creating and leading a community program, Akron area residents will have opportunities to engage with each artists’ unique creative perspective in ways that they may not usually get to.”…
Christa Ebert, of Cleveland, is a musician widely known as Uno Lady. She blends elements of jazz, doo wop, ’60s pop and folk through her voice, electronic pedals and unconventional instruments.” – By Marissa Nichol
90% of the fellowship funds were spent in Cuyahoga County
16 people were hired to help
A bunch of cool stuff was purchased
1,700 hours were spent researching developing and planning; creating and producing; promoting and implementing.
Uno lady had 30 public performances
Over 4,000 people experienced the work
With the fellowship funds I met the goals proposed in my application: I increased my capacity, developed my knowledge, and expanded my marketing efforts.
Contribution to the community
As promised, I spent 90% of my fellowship funds within Cuyahoga County. If there was an option to shop locally, I did. I hired Cuyahoga County artists and paid them a fair wage. I considered diversity when selecting the artists and also chose equally among the sexes.
Nick and Tony Cross lent their musical talents on a few of the songs. Adam Boose, audio engineer at Cauliflower Audio, mastered the music. Album artwork was created in collaboration with graphic designer, Angela Ruland, and photographer, Ryan Poorman. Professional seamstress Margaret Ruble of Senjiva Studios created the custom woodgrain dress used for the cover art. Ron Kretch authored my press-kit. Megan Elk gave me a voice lesson. Mike Rodemann designed and screenprinted the t-shirts with the help of his son, Milo. Ian Charnes, director of CWRU’s Think [box] (pictured below), crafted my custom made podium. The list goes on. I couldn’t have accomplished all that I have without the help of fellow artists.
I had records pressed at Gotta Groove and my pal Heather Gmucs artistically manipulate the vinyl. I had hundreds of CDs made at locally based AtoZ Audio.
In September, I improved my 2009 tape release for the 5-year anniversary, I Really Like Genetics But I’d Rather Have a Good Time, and made it free to the public (unolady.com/download). Download cards were printed at Jakprints. Another freebee was released on Christmas, when I covered “Auld Lang Syne.”
With the fellowship, I was able to turn an empty space in my house into an office/ modest studio that meets my recording needs.
I bought much needed equipment including but not limited to: A new Fender 300 Portable PA speaker system, a Boss RC30 loop pedal, an Apogee ONE microphone, KORG Volca Beats drum machine, MicroKORG Vocoder synthesizer, Yamaha Mixer, cables and power supplies, computer speakers, mic stands, and a handful of smaller instruments such as a Melodica (keyboard air), Tibetan singing bowls, thumb piano, and a musical saw and bow.
I bought a GoPro camera to help with future music videos, and took a film editing class at the Cleveland Institute of Art (taught by the lovely Lauren Voss). I took classes at the Beck Center for voice and piano. I learned the basics of music theory, how to sight-read, and how to sing this creepy/ amazing Italian Aria Lascia ch’io pianga.
My marketing efforts were enhanced by the fellowship: unolady.com is up and running. I am now registered as both the writer and publisher of my songs on ASCAP and secured licensing with CD Baby. My songs are finally on itunes, can be purchased on Amazon, and in the review process for Pandora. I now have a youtube channel with 10 videos posted in the past year.
I sent hundreds of emails and 70+ packages promoting the record and booking the tour. Each package contained a personalized, handwritten note in addition to professionally made publicity materials. Despite hours of sleuthing, I couldn’t find Wes Anderson’s address to send him a record.
In October, I went on tour, performing in eight towns never played in prior. I also was lucky enough to participated in an invite-only songwriting workshop and was on five recordings made during that week. It was the first time of my life I spent focused on music and nothing else.
The Creative Workforce Fellowship was a life changing opportunity. It continue to be a catalyst to my creativity and I am very thankful to CPAC and CAC. Thanks for making such an innovative and supportive program for Cuyahoga County artists.
I encourage all artists who are passionate about their city to apply to this year’s fellowship. On Wednesday, June 24, 2015 @ 12 noon, I’ll be speaking at the Foundation Center Cleveland (1422 Euclid Avenue, Suite 1300, Cleveland) about the fellowship and grant writing basics. Register here. Stay tuned for more updates. I’ll be posting more about the fellowship (click here to subscribe).
Come to Brite Winter Festival February 21, 2015 in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood
By Rachel Hunt, CellarDoor – “One of the first times that I remember watching Uno Lady perform was at Now That’s Class in 2010. I fondly recall the Tacocat EP release show with Christa Ebert, Uno Lady as she is known to the audience, doing a quick costume change in the bathroom behind doors that would not latch, shuffling around the tight space to re-emerge as her alter-ego.
Taking her place on stage, Uno Lady appears as a priestess addressing clergy members, tucked behind a technology-laced altar, she sings a doctrine that Clevelanders can readily get behind. Watching her perform live is an entrancing experience. Her operatic register and looping melodies reach deep into the crowd’s bones, sending goose bumps pleasurably coursing through the skin (this is an actual phenomenon).
Uno Lady has been hard at work since I saw her last. She released Amateur Hour in October at The Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, one of the first performers to christen the rejuvenated venue. The album was immediately appealing to me, from the first time I heard “5 Minute Guided Meditation” broadcast over college radio airwaves. The guided meditation sounds similar to calming recitations by Laurie Anderson on Big Science; poignant in its delivery and laugh out loud funny in content.
Part of the draw of Uno Lady is her raw power and confidence. In a music scene disproportionately represented by men, Uno Lady has always acted as a sole experimental female musician since 2007, a time when even less women were making music in Cleveland (or so it seems to me.) She embodies a metaphorical beacon of light to other women in the community. Ebert retains her feminine posture and graceful delivery throughout the new record while still commanding attention with each hook and pun-filled refrain.
Here are a few questions we were able to ask her before her performance at Brite Winter Fest:
Uno Lady is experimental in nature and a bit unorthodox considering how most Top 40 music is made. How do you manage to keep your music accessible for listeners despite it being unconventional in its conception?
That is a good question to which I have a confusing answer for: a person listening was an unintended, yet welcome, consequence that has helped shape how I write. I am wholeheartedly flattered people listen and I’m learning the musical hoops to becoming more accessible: getting a website, figuring out how to be on iTunes, putting out records. When I first started recording, I did not consider I would be playing shows a year later. My goal was shortsighted and didn’t go beyond recording for fun.
What artists have inspired you to take the route you have in your music?
Roy Orbison, Laurie Anderson, DEVO, earlier Coco Rosie to name a few.
You recently received a Prestigious Workforce Fellowship in 2014 that funded the making of “Amateur Hour”. Did earning the fellowship change the way you approached the writing of the record or making music?
I am so grateful for the fellowship. It will change my life for the better for many years to come. It reaffirmed I should make music and that I should take the time to develop my skills. It allowed me to buy things I needed to complete recordings. Literally everything I was using was slightly broken. It also allowed me to get help and pay people with fair wages rather than lasagna. I have used home cooking as a form of currency in the past.
The fellowship also gave me access to tools I did not have prior. There were these Creative Capital seminars that have tips on marketing, etc. It helped me step up my game in areas I am modest about. I did spend 90% of the funds within Cuyahoga County, as promised. All three pieces of my fellowship application are online. I did that to be transparent with my plan and so people could see an example of a fellowship application in case they wanted to apply. I am in the process of finishing my final fellowship report. I’ll publish the results on my website when I am finished.
How do you come up with the names for your songs?
All sorts of ways! Sometimes they name themselves: they describe the weird feelings the sound provokes i.e. “Disney Movie on Acid,” or can repeat a lyric i.e. “Day Drinking”; sometimes they have a revolving door of names. What was now “Dear Wes Anderson, You Should Like This Song” was “Temporary Waltz”, and in some cases, I don’t care about the name, want to get it over with and focus on the lyrics.
You are not a classically trained vocalist, yet you have an amazing voice that you use as a tool to make music. Was it ever intimidating for you to perform live, knowing that you may have not had the same experience as your peers?
Thanks for the kind words! Performing is intimidating for sure. I get butterflies in my stomach every show. I’m on display, almost asking for criticism as I share my feelings put to song. It can make you feel really vulnerable, however, I know it is impossible to grow by loitering in my comfort zone. In order to gain new knowledge and develop as a human being, you have to challenge yourself. I can’t allow anxiety to dictate my capabilities.
Although I am not trained I have probably spent thousands of hours singing. I may not know how to sight-read or which note is C, but I do have strong muscle memory. I want to continue to grow musically so with the last bit of fellowship funds I secured some lessons.
How were you able to teach yourself what sounds you were able to make?
I have always been a little bit of a parrot and mimicked sounds.
Tell me a little bit about your recent tour with Delaney Davidson. Why wait as long as you did to tour? What took you to Wisconsin and Minnesota specifically?
I met Delaney at an international one-man-band festival in Denver, CO, on my first tour in 2009. This was, I believe, his ninth trip to the US. He contacted me to see if I wanted to join him for this part of his visit. He was all over the place prior to the Midwest.
We ended up in Wisconsin and Minnesota because the goal was to be around Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin on Halloween for a songwriting event called “Dark Songs.” Located at the Holiday Music Motel, the event invites select musicians to stay for a week, be randomly paired into songwriting groups, and record and perform what was created. It was amazing. I am so stoked I was invited. It was the first time in my life I spent a whole week focused only on music – not working, not going to school – working on my own missions rather than working for others. It was surreal.
Regarding the hiatus – Shortly after the 2009 tour, I received a full scholarship to finish school. I had to reshuffle my priorities for an amazing academic opportunity, and I missed making music daily. In 2012, I graduated top of my class with an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies and was able to finish my Masters degree of Public Administration in May 2013. I started working full-time only three days after graduating. I applied for the fellowship July of 2013, was named a 2014 fellow, and here we are today. Time flies! I may have not been touring but I sure as heck was busy! Also, planning and booking a tour is a lot of work and takes months to do. Like other things, it just kept getting put on the back burner because I was so busy.
What is the most difficult part of being an artist, in your opinion?
Finding time! Making art a priority when you are an adult who has bills to pay and has to work full-time in a world that undervalues creativity. It is easy for it to be placed on a back burner – but it is important to remind yourself (myself) that if you are an artistic person, you have to nurture that side of you. It’s a necessary form of meditation. And when you are true to that part of you, it can help you become a better person and do a better job in other aspects of your life. I have to remind myself that all the time.”
I wanted to share Uno Lady’s video as well as highlight a few of my favorites. All are worth watching. It is a short two minutes focusing on some of the most creative talents in Cuyahoga County. Watch them here
Here I am- Christa Ebert, expert nerd, music connoisseur.
I have been lucky to call RA Washington a friend prior to the fellowship. RA is the co-founder of Guide To Kulchur, a bookstore (and then some) located on W65th and Detroit. GTK also acts as “an incubator for emerging and marginalized voices within the print medium. Main projects include Cleveland Books 2 Prisoners, GTK Press, The Cleveland Zine Archive, and The Sally Tatnall Black Box.”… http://guidetokulchurcleveland.com/
I also made some new pals thanks to the fellowship and developed a fondness for Cleveland Public Theatre. Cleveland Public Theatre’s mission is to “raise consciousness and nurture compassion through groundbreaking performances and life-changing educational programs.” There programs and plays are unique, and quite frankly, badass. They host my favorite annual concert, and throw the most action packed fundraiser that has ever existed.
Raymond Bobgan is the Executive Artistic Director or CPT and a 2014 fellowship recipient for music composition. His compositions may be the closest to Uno Lady’s musical style that I have come across. I love this because we make similar music in opposite ways.
Last but not least is my new feisty friend, Faye Hargate! Faye is a performer, installation artist, educator and director at CPT. Check out her video below.
By Anastasia Pantsios,COOL Cleveland – “Christa Ebert calls herself Uno Lady when she performs, a hint that she creates all her music by herself using only her voice as the raw material. With just a microphone and a mixer that loops her vocals, she produces clouds of lush, layered sound that refer to familiar pop themes and lyrics but utterly transform them. Jaunty melodies and catchy phrases pile up into towering edifices that are startling in their grandeur, considering their modest building blocks.
It’s hard to even tell if she has a highly trained voice or the girlish voice of an engagingly uncertain amateur; her delivery can be in turn knowing and wide-eyed, while she alternately buries a phrase by multiplying it or strips away everything to lay it bare in all its vulnerable nakedness.
Ebert released a tape almost exactly five years ago called I Really Like Genetics But I’d Rather Have a Good Time, followed by Tacocat in 2010.Back then she was in the early stages of exploring the striking and confident music she makes now. She hasn’t been too speedy about getting a new release out because she’s been business with work and school, like many of us. But when she landed a Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, it gave her the wherewithal to synthesize her evolving ideas into a new recording, a full-length album (available in vinyl and CD) called Amateur Hour.
She says, ‘If it wasn’t for the fellowship, this would have taken another 10 years to make. Instead I am already working on the planning stages for the next record.’
That is a reason to rejoice. Meanwhile, she’ll celebrate the release of Amateur Hour at the Euclid Tavern at a show also featuring New Zealand country singer/songwriter Delaney Davidson and Cleveland surf/garage rockers the Shale Satans. ”
By Laura DeMarco, The Plain Dealer – “Usually, the music lessons come before the records — and the shows.
Not in the case of Uno Lady, aka Christa Ebert, one of the most unique talents to emerge in the Cleveland music scene in the last five years.
Uno Lady is a vocalist – and then some. She’s a one-woman choir, with a beautiful high clear voice that she accompanies with more of her own voice, prerecorded on tapes and played and looped as she performs live….
The album even contains some conventional instrumentation, with guitars and drums from brothers Nick and Tony Cross, of Little Bighorn.
On Saturday, Ebert will celebrate the release of “Amateur Hour” with a show at the new Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, with Delaney Davidson and Shale Satans. Unlike her past releases, which are now available as free downloads on her site (unolady.com), it’s available on both vinyl, pressed at Cleveland’s own Gotta Groove Records, and CDs from Parma’s A to Z Audio.”
“Amateur Hour” is a high water mark for a confident, headstrong vocalist/songwriter who seems to level up with every endeavor—the crispness of the recording renders every skein of Ebert’s voicings audible with unprecedented and welcome clarity, showing off her strong, instinctive gifts for arrangement and lyric writing.
– Ron Kretsch
For the new album, I wanted to complete and record some older songs, as well as have an equal amount of new material to include. Some stuff was dusted off from back when I started — from before I started using a metronome.
This new one is also the first Uno Lady release that includes collaboration. Nick Cross (my fake brother-in-law of Coffinberry and Little Bighorn fame) lends his talents on guitar to two tracks, You’re no fangtooth and Night ride. Tony Cross, that handsome devil (from the same bands), adds drums to Bikini weeding and End of time. And the talented Adam Boose, of Cauliflower Audio, mastered all the tracks.
It is fun to hear the evolution from the past few recordings (I really like genetics but I’d rather have a good time, 2009 & Tacocat, 2010) to Amateur Hour, but this disc is gonna be the last recording of me acting like I know what I’m doing. Hence the name, Amateur Hour. Now that the album’s completed, I’m going to take voice lessons and learn to sight read. It all should make for an audible transformation in future recordings.
The album artwork is another thing I’m stoked about. It turned out better than I envisioned! A big thanks to Ryan Poorman for taking the photos and Angie Ruland for working in tandem with him on the layout. Thanks to the lovely Kim Tran for the fabulous makeup and Margaret Ruble at Senjiva Studio for making the most beautiful yet hideous dress (by request) I have ever seen!
And last but not least, a heartfelt thanks to Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC) and Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) for creating and sustaining the Creative Workforce Fellowship. Thanks for relighting the creative fire within me and providing me support so I can invest in myself and music. If it wasn’t for the fellowship, this would have taken another 10 years to make. Instead I am already working on the planning stages for the next record.
You can get a copy of the record by coming to the Record release show:
October 18, 9:00pm w/Delaney Davidson & Shale Satans Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern 11625 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106