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Judge for d. russell

canton, OH
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Portrait of d. russell
With a velvety smooth voice akin to Shawn Colvin or Suzanne Vega, singer/songwriter Denise Russell of northern Ohio is a name you may not recognize yet, but you will soon. Her music is jazz-infused, melody driven acoustic pop with lyrical depth, but it’s Russell’s voice that will make any listener stop and pay attention.

Russell, who grew up near Canton, Ohio, knew she was destined to be a songwriter at a very young age because she would hear melodies in her head. Perhaps it was in the family genes since her mom was an accomplished pianist, but when Denise began to play both piano and guitar, the beauty of chords turned this curious child into a prolific songwriter. But it wasn’t until recently that she became serious about pursuing music as a full-time ambition.

Performing in restaurants and coffeehouses the past few years, Russell has performed both solo and with co-writer and fellow musician Jon Mathewson. But what really helped catapult her to another level was when she met Eliot Sloan, lead singer of Blessid Union of Souls. Sloan saw her play a support slot at a festival his band was headlining and became enamored with Russell’s voice immediately, and the two became friends and co-writers. Russell has also performed with Alton Lee Hood, lead singer for the Grammy-nominated contemporary R&B group D.O.C. (Disciples of Christ); Jack Schanz, musical director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra; and more recently, Faith Evans, Diana Krall, and Norah Jones.

Land of Solace/Days of Grace was primarily guitar and vocal, with occasional percussion to add texture, but there is no mistaking Russell’s sultry, extraordinary voice in any of her recordings. Aspiring to emulate her influences such as Colvin, Vega Mindy Smith and Rickie Lee Jones, Russell is sure to turn heads of those artists’ fans, as well as to transcend genres and impress tastemakers everywhere.

Russell is a Christian who plays both secular and Christian venues. “I'm a Christian in a secular word, singing in secular venues,” she says. “ I don't preach at people, I just write and sing about what I’m feeling. If it's about God, that’s cool, and if it's not, that's cool too.”

The 5-song EP, which is due for release later this spring and for which Russell intends to tour in support of, has an all-star cast of players. Those include drummer John Gardner (Dixie Chicks) and guitarist Michael Durham (Dave Matthews, Tim McGraw).
 
 
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