ABOUT AMANDA WEST
with Pete Solomon
~ Philosophical Folk Fusion ~
An elegant union of inquisitive mind, open heart and old soul enable singer-songwriter Amanda West to weave powerful songs with a disarming stage presence. Pete Solomon often accompanies on world percussion, gentle keyboards, classically influenced jazz saxophone and the occasional electronic loop. West's all original songs explore topics from humanity’s impact on the planet, to musings on women’s role in society, intimate stories of love, and recipes for self empowerment and cultural evolution.
" Songs written from the heart and most beautifully sung from the heart."
~ Peggy MacNeil, Isles FM Radio, Scotland
"Amanda West: Songs to think about "
~ 'Sleepy John’ Sandidge - KPIG Radio, Freedom, CA
"...a lovely voice and something to say."
~ Cosy Sheridan - Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter
If an inquisitive mind, an open heart, and a beautiful soul took a walk and discussed what it means to Be, their conversation might sound like the music of philosophical folk songstress, Amanda West.
The California based songwriter has been singing since she was born, playing guitar since the tender age of 11, and performing for well over a decade. Listeners repeatedly note she has "the voice of an angel." To accompany her songs, West occasionally plays a light-hearted banjo, a pop-inspired piano, or a tribal West-African djembe, in addition to her ever-steady acoustic guitar. Notable influences include Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, and Loreena McKennitt.
Amanda West has played stages up and down the West coast from Ghengis Cohen in Los Angeles to Yoshi’s in San Francisco, as well as the legendary Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. Festival credits include Fairieworlds, the San Francisco Free Folk Festival, the Yakima Folk Festival, the Downtown Berkeley Music Festival, as well as open mics at California WorldFest and the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival.
Combining her passions for music and various social struggles, West has co-produced and performed in benefit concerts addressing social issues such as women's safety and children's access to education. A deep concern for the earth’s well being and humanity’s future has inspired West to begin work on a songwriter compilation of environmental songs for social change.
Regularly performing in and around the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas, Amanda West has been commissioned for work in film, and performances at weddings and other private events. She has joyfully shared the stage with Inga Swearingen, Round Mountain, Joanne Rand, Nina Storey, Raining Jane, Rebecca Riots, The Bowmans and Megan Slankard, among others.
This engaging songstress holds a firm belief in the power of music as an avenue to world peace and interconnectedness. She released her first solo album, The Way to the Water in February 2008. In September 2010 she released a 3 song EP entitled Truth, Love & Understanding, with her partner Pete Solomon. For the new year of 2012 she released a single called "Habit", and is currently working on her second solo album, entitled The Permission Tree.
Amanda West - Banjo, Vocals, Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Djembe, Shruti Box
Pete Solomon - Vocals, keyboards, Percussion, Saxophone
"Habit" - the single (2012)
"Truth Love & Understanding" - EP with Pete Solomon (2010)
"The Way to the Water" - Debut Solo Album (2008)
OTHER PROJECTS & COLLABORATIONS:
"Rose" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2006)
"Letters of Lost Hope" by The Ghost of Progress (2005)
"Walpurgis Night" Self Titled EP (2003)
"Live from Amanda's Living Room" Walpurgis Night (2000)
Flying In The Rain
Sockless (sample - from Truth Love and Understanding EP)
Married to Myself (unreleased) Live at the Freight and Salvage
Amanda West: The Healing Power of Music
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Early on in my journey toward healing, my daughter gave me a soundtrack to keep me company: CDs of a...Early on in my journey toward healing, my daughter gave me a soundtrack to keep me company: CDs of a number of songwriters and musicians from her generation whose messages she thought would be useful for me in my travels. She was right. Through powerful lyrics, compelling melodies, and beautiful voices, I began to hear universal truths and realize how music—whether of our own time or of centuries past—cuts through our thoughts, assumptions, beliefs, to the essence of a humanity we all share. We are not alone.
There is truly a healing power in music, and Amanda West is one of these remarkable musicians who holds this power in her songs. She calls herself a “philosophical folk songstress,” and with good reason. As I listened to her songs, sung with a voice of angelic purity, I heard, with astonishment, lyrics that seemed to describe my experiences and feelings with eerie accuracy. How could someone so young (relative to me!) seem to understand just what I was going through, and to offer the wisdom of such an “old soul?” I had to find out, so I wrote to ask if I could interview her, and she graciously agreed.
Just a few of Amada West’s lyrics:
“Times like these I have to believe
That we are part of something grander than we’ll ever know
Maybe all I really want is all within me
And I think all I really need is already here
“There are two things every traveler must remember,” he told me
One, you will always return
And Two, you cannot fight the journey, so you gotta just let it carry you
You gotta just, just let it carry you
And I want to travel with you
For as long as it’s what we are meant to do
And I know a day will come when you or I must go
But for time in my life spent with you I am so grateful.”
© Amanda West: “Ready to Travel”
I discovered a profound and thoughtful woman, with a deep commitment to social justice, human rights, and the social struggles and health of women. She uses her music to convey messages of personal healing and hope, as well as to contribute to social change. Amanda sang before she could talk, and began playing the guitar and writing her own songs at age 11. Her degree is in anthropology and she traveled the world to study the human experience in other cultures. Her musical influences include the folk songs of the sixties that her parents played at home, as well as contemporary singer/songwriters such as Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, and Loreena McKennitt.
All of which is noteworthy, but did not quite explain how she could write such powerful lyrics about relationships: love and loss, trust and betrayal, and the triumph of faith and compassion:
All the truths
That created my wounds
Were dug out today:
You are as you are
And I am as I am
And to save us both we can only separate
And in the morning
I will turn your ring around
Your heart will be
Your own again
© Amanda West: In the Morning
Amanda has had her own suffering in life: she was struck by a car and severely injured in high school and, while in college, was mistakenly diagnosed with terminal cancer. Later on, she encountered aspects of human suffering in her travels that led to her song, The Age of Disillusionment. She also had her share of painful relationships, though she is now happily married. “I needed to be able to grasp and understand the dark side of life,” she told me. “And this understanding created an emotional space that has opened me up to work through suffering and hard times with compassion. I want to be able to do that for others, not just for me, and these songs come out of me through that space.”
“That’s why the world is on trial in my mind
and I just need time, to be, to see, and to breathe on this,
to know to hate to have to hold to love to be on this
to wander, to wander, and to be
on this side
Nothing’s looking like it used to…
Nothing’s feeling like it used to…
This is the age of…
is the age of disillusionment”
© Amanda West: The Age of Disillusionment”
Go to her website to hear some of her music and read her astonishing lyrics.
Some of my favorite songs, besides the ones mentioned above: Fantasy – a chilling reminder of the victimization of women; and In the Morning— the most heartbreakingly beautiful, and true, description of the end of a relationship I have ever seen.
Amanda West Music - Dec 1, 2009
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Singer Amanda West is hiding out. Sort of. Having just returned from the Folk Alliance convention, t...Singer Amanda West is hiding out. Sort of. Having just returned from the Folk Alliance convention, the songstress (and producer of August’s WOMANSONG all-female concert in Big Sur) is busy off stage compiling the 12 tracks to her sophomore release. “I’ve actually been trying not to book shows because I’m working on a new album,” she says, making this week’s Cayuga Vault show on Saturday, Dec. 5 (alongside world-folk duo HuDost) all the more tantalizing for fans of her deeply cathartic folk.
A special winter show, the concert will likely be her last for a while as she heads into the studio to lay down a record she describes as happier than 2008’s The Way to the Water. It will reflect what she says are her more recent experiences “connecting with the Universe and finding confidence.”
“The images around the new CD are persimmon fruits,” she reveals. “It’s related to one of the songs on the album that’s become a symbol of inner knowing, strength and self empowerment.”
Inspired by the vocals of Sarah McLachlan and the songwriting of Alanis Morissette, West is in the league of performers who eschew grandiose arrangements for the potency of an intimate show built on poignant lyrics and stirring vocal dynamics. “I think an audience can access a solo artist in a way that they can’t with a band,” she maintains. Though she’ll find accompaniment in Pete Solomon on percussion and saxophone this week, the singer is known to move listeners with her acoustic guitar and her private ruminations on songs like “It Will Be” and “Illuminate My Soul.” Her heart-rending verses reflect her own revelations and sense of growth, and West mines specific experiences in hopes that they’ll ultimately shed light on the common roads we all walk. “We all feel like we’re really different, alone and isolated,” she begins, “and music is a way to connect with people. If I get close to the core of my truth, they will be the same for everyone else. As humans, we’re all very much more similar than we think.”
8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. Cayuga Vault, 1100 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 421-9471.
WOMANSONG - Inaugural Big Sur Concert Celebrates Original Voices and Songs of Eight Female Performers
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An event this Saturday in Big Sur showcasing women’s music and songwriting will also provide a boost...An event this Saturday in Big Sur showcasing women’s music and songwriting will also provide a boost to the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center. “Womansong – A Celebration of Women’s Original Voices & Songs” came about organically, as many things do in the South Coast region.
Organizer/performer Amanda West had played at the Big Sur Spirit Garden a time or two, and began to imagine a female-oriented music festival there, much in the vein of Lilith Fair.
“I love Big Sur,” said West, a Santa Cruz resident who is a singer and songwriter. “I wrote to Jayson Fann (owner of the Spirit Garden) and asked about playing there with one or two other women.” From there, the event seemed to take on a life of its own. “It ballooned into a much bigger thing, explained West, “as I contacted all the awesome women musician friends I know.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of women’s music in general, and I loved the idea of putting together a women’s music festival.” The result is an evening of eight female-fronted groups and solo performers over five hours, some local and some with a national following.
The setting at the Big Sur Spirit Garden is special too. “It’s a magical place,” said West. The Spirit Garden described on its wedsite as an “international arts and cultural center,” hosts a wide variety of multicultural performance and educational programs with artists from around the world, including festivals, art exhibits, workshops and conferences. It seemed like the ideal spot for a midsummer night’s dream of an event, which West and Fann see as a way to honor women’s original voices and songs, in addition to benefiting a worthy cause.
Womansong performers will include Chicago singer/songwriter Jenny Gillespie, Los Angeles based group Love Wings & the Deep Seed of Desire, solo singer/songwriter Amy Obenski, who has had a song featured on the hit television show “Grey’s Anatomy”, as well as Elizabeth Jonasson, Lauren Shera, Marya Stark, and West herself.
“Most of the performers are in the folk genre,” said West. The women’s accomplishments range from performances at the Freight & Salvage Coffee House and Free Folk Festivals in Berkeley and San Francisco, to creating multi-media developments, doing benefit concerts for redwood forest preservations, and critically acclaimed self produced albums, as well as hundreds of original compositions between them.
Obenski, an acoustic, folk rock, and jazz artist is based in Santa Cruz but performs frequently in the By Area and beyond. She’ll be featured at this year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada on Sept 3rd. Indie folk musician Jonasson turns to classical instruments to express her songs, including piano, flute, clarinet, cello and bass. Her latest CD is “The Figgery Fell.”
Locally raised contemporary folk singer Shera has been on stage with such acts as Greg Brown, Iris DeMent, Jason Mraz and Joan Osborne, and has appeared at the Monterey Music Sumit, High Sierra Music Festival, Sausalito Music & Arts Festival and South by Southwest. In 2006 she performed at the Bob Dylan tribute concert in New York City, where she was accompanied on stage by renowned guitarist Warren Haynes.
Stark who works in music therapy in addition to her singing career, has performed at the Raw Food Festival and Las Vegas’ Big Glow Extravaganza. Also in the mix is a selection of visual art at the concert site. Bay Area abstract and landscape artist Shivani Rajan will unveil a new body of work from her current Southwest painting tour, displaying it in the garden during the concert.
Those who attend should pack a sweater or jacket in case of a cool evening, wear comfortable clothing, and bring a picnic if desired. Beer or wine is also allowed in the Spirit Garden, and if needed, food is available for purchase nearby.
Those who wish to purchase artwork and CD’s may do so during the evening, and extra donations to the Monterey Rape Crisis Center are also encouraged. Proceeds from the event will go to the MCRCC, a nonprofit agency which offers confidential counseling and support for victims of sexual assault, both female and male. The agency also offers ongoing education and other services in the community to prevent sexual violence.
West said she’s hoping that Womansong will become an annual event, benefiting a different women’s cause each year.
WHAT: "Womansong - A Celebration of Women's Original Voices & Songs"
WHERE: Big Sur Spirit Garden, Big Sur
WHEN: 6-11pm, Saturday Aug 22nd
TICKETS: Advanced tickets from $15 www.brownpapertickets.com, at the door $15-$25 sliding scale
INFO: 831-667-1300 or online at www.bigsurspiritgarden.com, www.myspace.com/bigsurwomansong,www.amandawestmusic.com
CD Review - "The Way to the Water"
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l stand and applaud this absolutely engaging, stunning CD "The Way To the Water". West has produced ...l stand and applaud this absolutely engaging, stunning CD "The Way To the Water". West has produced a music managers dream of an album, one that sounds and feels perfect for our audience. She has captured and lured me into a musical exploration of her life's travels, woven into a textured CD of the purest quality. The songs are insights and statements of what is happening around her, held together by a stunning voice, accentuated by sweet guitar. This is an album to savor and enjoy, a musical journey through contemporary Folk music with some Bluesier elements for good measure. I have much pleasure in allocating this album to our announcers and of course, to a whole new audience for Ms. West's music.
CD Review - "The Way to the Water"
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In full-fledged support of the Socratic statement, 'the unexamined life is not worth living,' local ...In full-fledged support of the Socratic statement, 'the unexamined life is not worth living,' local singer-songwriter Amanda West releases her debut LP. The disc, aptly entitled, The Way to the Water, is a bold examination, both outward and inward, that delves deep into such universal themes as trusting one's instincts in the face of expectations, the search for truth and satisfaction and love's palpitations and travails. Sparse instrumentation, lush and intimate, focuses the attention on West's voice, gorgeous, selfless and emotive.
New Talent on the Block
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TOUCH OF CREPENESS Meanwhile, Wednesday night at the Crepe Place saw a much more relaxed part of t...TOUCH OF CREPENESS
Meanwhile, Wednesday night at the Crepe Place saw a much more relaxed part of the rock & roll continuum, with singer/songwriters AMANDA WEST and ELIZABETH JONASSON serving up some relaxing tunes to complement those delicious crepes. After Jonasson's smooth keyboard set, West strapped on an acoustic guitar and sang through an evocative set list reminiscent of the queen of adult folk-pop herself, Sarah McLachlan. Sitting at the bar munching my crepe du jour, I overheard conversation between two men that seemed worthy of print, given the impresive quality of West's performance. "Wow, this girl is sooo good," says Guy No. 1 with wide eyes and a bobbing head. "Yeah," concurs Guy No. 2, "this song is like a haunting lullaby, it's so beautiful." And it was. West's flowing prose and intricate melodies were as alluring as - as the scent of thin pancakes coming from the kitchen. Mouth-watering? Oh yeah. Look out for her Feb. 15 CD release show at the Cayuga Vault.
Love Your Local Band: Amanda West
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If you’re a fan of brooding songstresses like Tori Amos, Enya, Sarah Mclachlan and Alanis Morrisette...If you’re a fan of brooding songstresses like Tori Amos, Enya, Sarah Mclachlan and Alanis Morrisette, you’re going to like local singer-songwriter Amanda West. Strumming a quiet guitar, West delivers deeply-introspective acoustic folk rock with lyrics that have that direct-from-the-diary quality and gossamer vocals that effortlessly float and shimmer. According to West, the Lilith Fair aesthetic in her musical style is entirely intentional. “They were women with amazing voices and emotionally reflective, intelligent lyrics that commented on the state of the world and the experience of being human. That is incredibly inspiring to me,” says West. “I know that the struggle for gender equality has come a very, very long way, but the world of music still has a ways to go. You see many bands of all male musicians and they’re called ‘bands’. A band with all female musicians is never just a band—it must be a ‘chick band.’” West plans to debut her first solo acoustic album by Summer’s end. The disc will bear all original tracks that West describes as “very personal” and “quite philosophical.” When not logging studio time, West perform gigs all around town, both on her own and with two other local singer-songwriters Annie J and Elizabeth Jonasson in a trio the women have dubbed She-3. “I have enjoyed a lot of intimate experiences at shows here,” says West. “I think people in Santa Cruz often tend to be very open and my music is a lot about emotional openness, so I think it can work very well here.”
Over 65 original songs ranging in length from 3 to 7 minutes each. These songs range in style from gentle ballads to soaring melodies, contemplative questions and rocking world rhythms.
Pieces from Amanda's solo album "The Way to the Water", her EP collaboration with Pete Solomon "Truth, Love & Understanding", and her forthcoming second solo release "Permission Tree" are common, as well as tunes from her old band, Walpurgis Night, and many other unreleased songs.
While original songs are preferred, some cover tunes are available including:
- La Llorona (traditional Mexican)
- Angel from Montgomery (John Prine)
- Here in California (Kate Wolf)
- John Riley (traditional)
- Silver Dagger (traditional)
- House of the Rising Sun
Performance time can range anywhere from 20 minutes to 3.5 hours.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.