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Judge for Pilar French

Portland, OR
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Portrait of Pilar French
She is Pilar French. She is a singer, a songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist as comfortable playing solo with an acoustic guitar in an intimate setting as she is rocking out with her band on a festival or club stage. And Pilar is never content to limit what she's singing about…be it lost love, human perseverence, or politics.

She's a deep mix of styles and insights. Funny, brainy, sexy, articulate and precise with a desire for serendipty.

"I do use music to show my emotions but I also try to write thought-evoking music. Maybe you read the lyrics and you think it's about something totally different than I do. Maybe it's intel-rock-tual. A thinking person's music. If you want something you can marinade on, you can listen to multiple times and discover something different every time you listen to it…that's what my music is."

She has lived in Portland for thirteen years, having gone to college in Chicago and coming from deep Midwestern roots.

"I am completely influenced by blues. It's the root, a fundamental musical style and it pervades my music but I'm inspired by a lot of different musicians."

In Portland she joined a number of bluesey, funky bands including Soul Patrol Mission.

"We played on top of skyscrapers in downtown Portland and on the Portland Spirit. We played cheesy 80s tunes on acoustic guitars and the accordion."

"Swerve," a six-piece blues band took up the next two years. She played with singer Kate Mann and worked with singer Lara Michell from Stolen Sweets and Dirty Martini. Pilar joined Michell and Nicole Campbell in a raucous cover band known as "Guilty Pleasures and One Hit Wonders." Pilar has played bass in several other bands.

She released the album "Butterflies" in 2007 and her new album, "Alive" will be released in September 2009.

"This time I wanted to express my passion more, my vision of what I was feeling when I wrote the songs. I think I've evolved as a musician and found that one of the things I like to do when I write a song is to have a lot of layers and changes and to take the listeners to unexpected places."

Although she performs solo, she maintains a working band, "Pilar French Intention" which has gone through several incarnations. The Intention currently features Joshua Slamp ( and Jeff Koch (Garth Michael McDermott, Scott Gallegos) on bass and guitar, and Tony Howard (Pinehurst Kids, Garth Michael McDermott) on drums.