Amanda Richards
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Amanda Richards


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Amanda Richards @ The Ponderosa Lounge

Portland, Oregon, USA

Portland, Oregon, USA

Amanda Richards @ The Hotel Cafe

Los Angeles, California, USA

Los Angeles, California, USA

Amanda Richards @ My Coffee and The Wine Experience

Roseurg, Oregon, USA

Roseurg, Oregon, USA

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Singer’s just 21, with an ageless sound.
By Eric Bartels - The Portland Tribune

Amanda Richards is playing guitar and singing at a home and garden store in Troutdale. Folks stroll in off the town’s main drag eager to study the art installed for a monthly First Friday event.

But some don’t get any further than the couch just inside the front door where Richards is sitting.
“We heard you from across the street,” one woman, practically spellbound, says to Richards.
“Who are you?”
It’s a good question. A 21 year-old songwriter, guitarist and singer, Richards may be one of the best undiscovered talents in Portland, even though she’s been turning heads with her music since she was 14.

She is not immodest; in fact, a minor chord of girlish diffidence is part of her charm. But she knows what she can do to people.

“There are certain songs that I do… I can guarantee somebody in the audience is going to shed a tear,” she says. “It’s other peoples emotions more than my own talent. It’s just me being myself.”

She plays at coffeehouses and has a regular gig at a Harley Davidson Showroom in Tigard. But to hear Richards sing is to wonder how good a musician can be without drawing big time attention to herself.

With the completion in November of her first full-length CD, “Not Always Sexy,” Richards is hoping to bring more people along on her musical journey.

One song, not included on the CD, got airplay on the Air America radio network, resulting in 1,500 hits on Richards’ Web-site.

“I was really surprised at the talent that came out of this gal, not even knowing who she was,” says disk jockey Kevin Welch, KINK FM 101.9. “It came out of nowhere.”

It runs in the family
Richard hails from a musical family. Her grandfather played with the western singing group Sons of the Pioneers, an act that has been performing continuously for over 50 years. Her father is also a professional musician.

“I’m supposed to be doing this,” she says. “It was genetically expected of me. One day I took my mom aside and said, ‘Mom, I can sing.’ I remember that instant.

The 12-song “Not Always Sexy” showcases Richards’ talents effectively. The handiest point of comparison is the Lilith Fair-era songbird Jewel, but the echos of earlier artists such as Joan Baez are equally evident. Richards plays guitar confidently, can turn her breathy voice into a growl in an eye blink, and writes thoughtful, evocative songs about life, love and loss.

The surprise is Richards’ assured style as both writer and performer. Ruminations about pleasure and heartbreak are supposed to sound silly coming from a part time college student. But Richards’ somehow acquired an emotional burnish that seems almost illogical for someone her age.

“She has a sense of being around a bit,” says local musician Bob Bergeni, who has performed with her. “She seems like she’s seen a few things.”

It’s true. Richards moved to the Portland area with her mother and brother as a young child, her parents having split up. When she was a teenager, strained relations at home prompted her to change schools several times, and she never finished high school.

But Richards’ nature also plays a part. She describes herself as reflective and philosophical.
“I’ve always felt like an only child,” she says. “People tell me stuff. I take a lot of that on. It affects me. I’m older than I am. I feel like I’m middle aged.

“I’m not into the scene. I’m more of a contemplative homebody. I like more intimate sorts of friendships, not hanging out with people for the sake of not being alone. I enjoy quality over quantity.”

‘I love doing this stuff’
When the Oregon Symphony sponsored a contest for young songwriters last year, Richards didn’t win but was invited to perform at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall at a symphony event.

“It means a lot to me to get that kind of encouragement,” she says. “I want to get that reaction from my music. I love doing this stuff. There really isn’t anything else out there that makes me happy and makes me as much money.”

Richards admits she has little stomach for conventional work. She’s far happier steering her 1979 Volkswagen bus to a Pearl District street corner, where she’ll set up a battery powered amp and play tips at First Thursdays.

“I’ve never held a job for more than six months,” she says with a giddy giggle.”
Richards and three other musicians, fellow students at Mt. Hood Community College, will perform Thursday at a downtown rally for child abuse prevention at which Gov. Ted Kulongoski will appear. She was chosen by a panel that included coordinator Angela Garcia of the Committee on Children, Families and Community of Multnomah County.

“She’s an amazingly talented musician,” Garcia says. “We reviewed a bunch of musicians, and hers was the best package. She has a very nice, sultry voice. I listen to her CD now.”

Richards is confident that the new CD will bump her a rung as an artist. But she’s also determined to shape her own career.

“I think this album is proof that I could have a record deal,” she says. “But I want to have control over the product. The process is really fascinating to me, and I want to have some charge in it. I want to at least have a say in it. Realistically, someone would have to give me a lot of money to give that away.”

Richards seems guided by different aspects of her musical heritage. She has a relationship with her father, a working musician in Southern California. But while she admires his abilities as a musician, she says lifestyle choices kept him from fully realizing his talents.

“I want to accomplish something,” she says. “I almost do have something to prove.”
Richards is confident a larger audience exists for the kind of music her surprising maturity guides her to create.

“So far it’s been just me, and I’ve got a lot of response from that,” she says. “I’m not a bar band. It’s not about a band. It’s not about me. It’s about a song. It’s not the kind of music you go out and ignore. There’s stuff that’s being said.

Norah Jones won eight Grammy’s. That proves that there are people that are craving this kind of stuff. They’re needing this.”

- The Portland Tribune

It’s hard to believe that Amanda Richards is only 23 years old. This rising local songwriter has a voice that commands instant attention — alternately clear, cutting, gritty, sultry and full of longing.

But Richards isn’t just an impressive voice. Her songwriting — which mostly revolves around relationships that didn’t work, aren’t working or aren’t going to work — is remarkably diverse and complex, and she brings a sense of warmth and humor to the material, as well as her perfomance.

On her new CD, “Live at Mississippi Studios,” songs like “I Love You More (When I’m All Alone)” and “Cookies & Whiskey” add a wink and a bite to the standard relationship-gone-wrong equations and prove to be crowd pleasers.

Richards is equally at home with more forlorn material, and her emotive vocals add a genuine resonance to the material.

She’s spellbinding across the spectrum, and a standout whose star is on the rise. - The Portland Tribune

Most live albums are pointless.

True, for hardcore fans of that particular artist, they can serve as a memento of a fondly recalled gig or provide a snack between studio releases. Given that Portland, OR singer/songwriter Amanda Richards is far from a household name, you have to figure that she must feel there is something special about this performance. Sure enough, the rounds of applause that appear between tracks are well-deserved; this is one of the most intimate, emotionally charged, and occasionally funny albums you’ll hear this year.

Richards has a bluesy, dark-hued voice; it can soar with unbridled passion, as on “Home, I’m On My Way,” or melt into 3 a.m. melancholia, like on “I Want You.” Richards’ lyrics are steeped in romantic despair but she never gives in to depression. In fact, her message seems to be that, yeah, we can get screwed up in our relationships, but we have to push ourselves forward. In “Home, I’m On My Way,” Richards sings about leaving a man who can’t even save himself. “Though it’s sad to let you go/I’m on my way to a brighter day/And this boat is mine to row.” In a sense, Richards has discovered how to heal herself of the blues while singing about them at the same time. “I’m Sure You’d Know” finds Richards in love with a guy who can’t drop an old flame, but the old blues cliché of wallowing in pain isn’t utilized here. “So now what am I supposed to do/Sit around and wait for you?” Richards asks.

The independent spirit and personal strength that fuels Richards’ words is pretty uplifting—and sometimes humorous as well. “I Love You More (When I’m All Alone)” (great title!) has a hysterically pointed punch line: “I dream about your body/I think about old times…But I’m so glad, baby, you’re gone.” Richards delivers that line with a stand-up comedian’s sharp timing and the righteous indignation of a woman who isn’t going to take shit from anyone.

However, not everything here is laced with vinegar. “I Want You” is genuinely romantic and “Cookies & Whiskey” is a hilarious, warts-and-all look at the aftermath of a break-up. -

Our Rating: [8 out of 10 stars]
Those who think that folk music, or the blues, lacks a sense of humor hasn't heard singer/songwriter Amanda Richards ( On "Cookies & Whiskey," Richards describes the plight of a woman who has been dumped by her lover. Instead of simply writing words of despair, Richards describes how the ex-girlfriend drowns her sorrow in junk food and hard liquor: "Been living on memories/Cream pies and drink/Which might explain the tear drops/And chocolate smeared ink." It's funny stuff, but also deeply sad because it's a phase that probably all of us, male or female, have gone through.

Although lyrically speaking the tone of "Cookies & Whiskey" doesn't summarize the CD as a whole, I bring it to your attention because it's a can't-miss track. Whether or not folk music appeals to you, "Cookies & Whiskey" should strike a chord. In "Cookies & Whiskey," the protagonist has gotten fat and miserable, losing the beauty she once had: "I knew you liked tight jeans/But I took it too far/'Cause I can't fit in nothing/Including my car." Nevertheless, Richards manages to write a surprisingly happy twist at the tune's end.

Richards is a fine storyteller, narrating her tales of heartache with a brutally honest pen. "I Love You More (When I'm All Alone)" is a keen kiss-off: "I don't care, I won't fight/If you don't come home/Because I love you more/When I'm all alone." Ouch. Richards' characters are either proudly independent, as on "It's Already Over," or clinging to a dying relationship, like in "Here I Am." Although recorded before an audience, the record sounds warm and intimate. - Whisperin & Hollerin

Lady can certainly sing the blues, but with a sharp, sometimes comical, tongue. On "Cookies & Whiskey," Richards drops these lyrical bombs: "But I'll drown my sorrows/In pastries and booze/I've got a big ass and bad gas/And heartbroken blues." The acoustic-folk arrangements are given extra spice by George Turner's cello; however, it's Richards' words that steal the show. - 75 or Less

Amanda Richards, 23, seems grounded for life. The singer-songwriter, who grew up in Gresham and whose grandfather was an 18-year member of the Sons of the Pioneers, is about to headline her first show, Saturday night at the Aladdin Theater. But speaking recently at a North Portland coffee shop, two things are clear: She's hoping her country-western and bluesy-folk will take her far as her musical heritage helps to anchor her feet firmly to the earth.

Is this the biggest venue you've played so far?

In Portland, yeah. The bigger ones I've played have been in festival situations. I've played at the Haight Ashbury Street Fair, where there's 10,000 people. But, you know, they're not all there for the music; they're there for the brownies (laughs). So this is pretty exciting.

Your grandfather was in the Sons of the Pioneers. Is the rest of your family musical?

Oh, yeah. My cousin taught me some Joan Baez songs that her mom taught her. Three of my grandpa's four children all became professional musicians; my dad and two aunts. My dad sang country and western, and at one point sang in the Grand Ole Opry.

When you did begin teaching yourself to play guitar?

I started playing guitar when I was 12. I started playing covers and just thought, "Well, this will be easier if I just write my own songs" (laughs).

At 23, some musicians are still rebelling against their parents' musical influence. But you're embracing your roots.

Well, I went through the whole teenage rebellion phase, like everybody did -- burnt part of the record collection, didn't want anybody to know I liked this kind of stuff, and still do. But it really is a part of who I am and in a lot of ways a big part of history.

Do you hope to reach the status of your grandfather's group?

Honestly, the band my grandfather was in was like the '40s equivalent of The Beatles. . . . For me, more important than being a rock star or anything like that is being a good person with a message that makes other people want to be good people also. . . . I don't necessarily want to be on major label or be a millionaire. I just want something humble and sustaining.

Amanda Richards' concert (with Stevi Marie & Jackson Road, and Blue Lightning) is at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave. All ages. Tickets $15 at Ticketmaster or day of show. Details: - The Oregonian

Singer/songwriter Amanda Richards is well-prepared for musical stardom and credits the beauty of the MHCC campus for the inspiration it gave her to write many of her songs.

“Whenever I felt the urge to get away and write,” Richards said. “I’d climb into a tree and play the flute. I wrote a lot of songs in that tree.”

Richards, now 23, enrolled at MHCC when she was 17. Even though she had grown up in a musical family, Richards hadn’t thought seriously about being a performer. All that changed when she was offered a chance to perform at the MHCC College Center.

“This was my first real “gig” and the feedback I received from the audience was so positive, for the first time, I started to think about a singing career.”

This October, Richards released her second CD, headlined her first major concert and is embarking on her first tour this fall.

When Richards started at MHCC she knew that understanding the business side of a music career would be important, so along with music classes, she enrolled in the Business Management program.

One of the first projects assigned by her marketing teacher was to create a marketing campaign for a product, so Richards decided to design a plan to promote herself as a singer. She created a press kit, identified her target audience and made a detailed plan on getting exposure as a singer.

“The business classes taught me how to act as my own publicist, and to negotiate for my fees,” Richards said. “Eventually I will need to hire people to do that sort of work for me, and I feel confident I will be able to avoid the many rip-off artists in the field because I understand business.”

Richards also understands the technical aspects of music production because of the recording studio available with her music classes.

“I learned the vocabulary used by the sound engineers and that helped me better communicate what I wanted during the production of my two CDs,” Richards said.

Surprisingly, Richards claims the hardest classes she took at MHCC were her music classes.

“I’ve always just played music, so when it came to music theory, I felt lost,” Richards said. “It took a lot of discipline and practice to make it through the music classes, but I am a much better musician because of it.”

In the four years she attended MHCC, Richards is fairly sure she took just about every class offered at the college—including welding, astronomy, environmental science and philosophy.

“Every instructor I had opened my eyes to a different aspect of the world. I feel the education I received at MHCC expanded my views, made me more creative and brought a richer texture to my songs,” Richards said.

Having found inspiration in the trees and in the classroom, Richards says she will always hold a special place in her heart for MHCC. - Mt. Hood Community College Winter Schedule

The’s got a strong voice. She plays a mean guitar. But at her core, she’s a lyrics girl.

“If I hear someone rhyme dove with love one more time,” she says, “I might …”

Amanda Richards rolls her eyes and giggles as her voice trails off.

At 23, Richards is a hometown girl – she attended Barlow High School and Mt. Hood Community College – with big talent.

With a self-produced CD out and a tour planned this fall, she’ll headline her first major concert Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Aladdin Theater.

Hailing from a musical family, Richards grew up learning classic folk rock music. Her cousin taught her “Diamonds and Rust” by Joan Baez. At age 5, she was belting out “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar. Leonard Cohen, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits are regulars on her CD player.

Not exactly typical for a 23-year-old. But Richards isn’t your average young singer trying to make it. She’s performed at more than 100 venues around the Northwest and California, including the Rose Festival, the Washington County Fair and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury Street Fair.

She garners praise as she goes. In a 2005 Portland Tribune article, KINK FM deejay Kevin Welch said he was “surprised at the talent that came out of this gal, not even knowing who she was. It came out of nowhere.”

Maybe it grew out of learning songs from her father and grandfather before hearing them anywhere else. Her grandfather was part of the legendary country harmony group, The Sons of the Pioneers. Her father performed at music festivals, trotting his 2-year-old daughter out on the stage to sing along with him.

She’d compete in festival and fair talent shows, singing “Rockin‘ Robin” and “Angel in the Morning” with no hint of stage fright.

When she was 12, she began to write her first songs and found a talent in crafting lyrics.

“I like to find an old topic and put a new spin on it,” she says. “I try not to write about things I don’t believe in. I try not to do those ‘poor me’ love songs, the ‘why’d you leave me’ songs.”

In her CD, “Not Always Sexy,” she hits on the dissonant notes of fading romance in the song “That Much to Me.”

I won’t hold my breath

for you to change your mind.

I won’t try to fix

Faults that aren’t mine.

I won’t try to stop you

When you go.

But I won’t stop loving you, no.

’Cause you mean that much to me.

Her voice, reminiscent of Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris, lilts softly on such songs, but watch out. It can also pack a punch, growling and purring in “Magnum 45,” a song Richards wrote about a woman who hunts down her one-night stand after he leaves her and kills him. “I couldn’t stand to watch him run,” she sings.

“Obviously, I’ve never killed someone,” she says, laughing. “And I’ve never had a one-night stand, but it makes for a good song.”

One can imagine Richards’ popularity at her regular gigs at Paradise Harley in Tigard. She’s got just the right mix of sweet and sultry, country and rock, twang and smooth vibrato.

Her sense of humor wiggles its way into her songs too, as in “Cookies and Whiskey.”

Oh, cookies and whiskey

Donuts and beer.

I love you darlin‘

I wish you were here.

But I’ll drown my sorrows

in pastries and booze.

I’ve got a big ass and bad gas

and heartbroken blues.

“I was living in California at the time and there was this period where I seemed to be eating a lot of cookies and drinking a lot of Kahlua,” she says. “But nothing rhymes with Kahlua, so that’s how ‘Cookies and Whiskey’ came about.”

For Richards, writing lyrics is her “best form of counseling.”

And performing provides her the best reward. She felt that way May 25, when she packed out Mississippi Studios for a live performance.

“It seems like every show, there’ll be one person in the crowd who’s really into it, and if I can have one person like that at every show, it’s all worth it,” she says.

The girl who started out playing in Café Delirium and Trufflehunter restaurant is now a woman. She’s ready to give her dream everything she’s got.

In June she quit her day job as a receptionist at a mortgage company. Nothing much seems worth doing for Richards, except what comes naturally – making good music.

“If even one person comes up to me at the end of a show and tells me my music’s done something for them,” she says, “that’s what keeps me going.”
Kari Hastings - The Gresham Outlook
- The Outlook- Kari Hastings

I have to be honest: I'm having trouble writing an objective review of Not Always Sexy, Amanda Richards' debut CD. From the moment I heard her single, "Magnum 45," I was jump-up-and-down psyched about this bold-voiced artist. Part rockabilly, part old country, part blues, part classic rock, she even throws in a little bossanova just to keep you on your toes. Amanda refuses to be categorized, which is cool, because the richness of her style pretty much makes her uncategorizable. A native of the Portland, Oregon singer/songwriter scene, she's 23 years old, but you wouldn't know it from her lyrics. Her poeticism, depth, and eloquence are rare for artists twice her age.
She's playing all around Portland this summer, and even has a date in Seattle too. If you'll be around those parts and want to check her out, you can find her tour schedule on her website: Go there to download free MP3s of "Magnum 45" and Not Always Sexy's "Cookies and Whiskey" or to order a copy of the awesome CD. And don't, like, lend your copy to a friend without buying a duplicate or something, because this album's addictive, and you might never get it back.
And in case you're still not convinced she's the coolest thing ever to come out of Gresham, OR, Amanda confessed to me that, when she's 50 and having her midlife crisis, instead of buying a convertible or dating some 20-year-old, she's gonna get a full-color tattoo of a peacock feather on the back of her calf. That is so indie-star cool.
Lori Fagerholm - CoOpted
- CoOpted- Lori Fagerholm

Once in a great while, it happens...
A young, prodigious musical talent emerges, compelling you to intensely feel, think and respond.

You're deeply touched by songs that peel away the layers of love lost or found (or distorted) and simultaneously amazed at the tremendous vocal and stylistic range.

From sensuous acoustic to gritty homicidal rockabilly---- from straight-ahead rock to steamy bossanova--- from swingin' 13 bar blues to hysterically dead-on country satire--- you're moving through a rich emotional journey highlighted by several surprising twists and turns.

You're profoundly struck by the depth and wisdom shown by someone who's only 22 years old. And, most of all, you're enthralled by that voice---- The passion....
The strength... The conviction... The versatility.

Once in a great while, it happens...and now it happens to be Amanda Richards and her debut CD "Not Always Sexy."


The first track, "All The Way to the Bottom," is a punchy, wryly ironic rocker about the vagaries of life with a manic depressive:

"Arms spread wide...
If we believe, we can fly...
All the way to the bottom...
‘Cause we've been deceived by gravity."

The second track, "Magnum 45," is a rhythmic, sinister and homicidal Rockabilly centered upon the revenge of a woman who's more than a little ticked off with the unsatisfying outcome of a one-night stand.

Each track showcases the many intriguing facets of Amanda--- a penchant for great musical hooks; deft lyric writing from an often-uncommon perspective; and that wonderfully expressive voice pulling you in close to each story-song.

"Share the Load" travels in a totally different direction---- it's an acoustic ballad featuring a plea for romantic and universal love. The romantic yearning is powerful, and the vision is for a complete and deep love... mutual, committed and everlasting.

"Share The Load" is loaded with questions--

"Ever gonna find someone...
Who can bear the weight I feel?"

"Wouldn't it be great to have a lover
Who'd be in it for the long run?"

"Wouldn't it be great to have a lover
Who'd sing this song?"

Amanda's soulful, soaring vocals make you want to search with her for answers.

The title track of "Not Always Sexy" is a mid-tempo folk-pop melody that goes straight to your heart with something universal and universally painful-- the withering of passion in a relationship:

"Now that the roses have died...
Will your sweet kisses subside?
And are the kind words whispered in the dark… No more, no more, no more?"

Amanda's voice combines sadness and resignation with a strength that comes from embracing love and the loved one and not wanting to let either go:

"I can't help the way that I am.
I wish that things were like the way they began…

Love's not always sexy
But it's always real."

How very true.

"Cool Waters" is built around a sensual "love and the ocean" simile and showcases Amanda's remarkable vocal range. From a lush, ethereal beginning, Amanda leads you into her forceful chorus about what it takes to fall (or dive) in love:

"I'm not afraid
To get my feet wet.
I'm not afraid
To get over my head.
I'm not afraid
To go off the deep end.
I'm not afraid..."

"Cool Waters" ebbs and flows between the delicate and the demonstrative---just like falling in love often does.

"That Much to Me" is an acoustic ode to a love relationship's complexity. As is the case often throughout "Not Always Sexy," Amada fiercely maintains her love and her optimism in the most trying of situations in a way that's eminently empowering and resonant.
"Cookies and Whiskey" is absolutely outstanding! It's a total delight! This song is hysterical country comedy.

"Cookies and Whiskey" contorts the "drinking and lonesome" mentality of many country songs and morphs it into a most unique breed of self-pity and self-indulgence. "Cookies and Whiskey" is one wickedly perfect satire:

"Cookies and whiskey
Donuts and beer
I love you darlin'
And I wish you were here.

But I'll drown my sorrows
In pastries and booze...
I've got a big ass
And bad gas
And heartbroken blues."

"Love's Gonna Shine" is a sprightly, upbeat 13 bar blues with a swinging bass line.
And, "Love's Gonna Shine" is one dramatic "mood elevator"--- instantly uplifting and inspiring. And, "Love's Gonna Shine" gives you another opportunity to be impacted and impressed even further by Amanda's wide-ranging talent and her fervent belief in the redemptive power of love.

"Try It Again" is a bluesy, haunting bossanova about Amanda's relentless pursuit of love and forgiveness in spite of previous pain and deception. Yes, for those who love to "peel away the layers"--- dig in:

"Maybe when she hurts you all over again
You'll come crawlin' back to your old friend.
You hurt me before
But I'd try it again
All for the love of you."

"Close To Me" give you another tale from the dark side--- this time, it's a stalker's point of view.Nail-biting percussion gives "Close To Me" an eerie, more jagged edge:

"There's no articulation
Of anything we feel.
And there's nothing to suggest
That this is even real."

Hey, pull down the shades and double-lock the doors.

"Oasis" is a thought-provoking ballad comparing two viable choices for love while affirming that things aren't always what they seem. As you know only too well--- when it comes to love:

"It's so hard to choose between
An oasis and a dream..."

"Oasis" is sure to stir your head and heart.

"What I Need" is a sweet, delicate and sentimental love song that closes out the CD.

Amanda, while clearly enjoying the physical part of the relationship, yearns for the other crucial aspects of love to make it all complete:

"Your body's been
Like a haven for me.
But your love
Is what I need."

Amanda Richards' CD "Not Always Sexy" is truly a fascinating journey from beginning to end--- a journey that grows richer and deeper with repeated listenings. It's easy to envision "Cookies and Whiskey" becoming a huge hit on Country Radio and a favorite of Morning Radio Comedy Shows. But, of course, the CD is not all "pastries and booze." Every track on "Not Always Sexy" is strong and stands on its own as well as being an integral part of the whole CD.

Once in a great while, it happens--- a young, prodigious musical talent emerges, compelling you to intensely feel, think and respond. Listen closely to Amanda Richards' "Not Always Sexy," and thoroughly enjoy the debut of an ascending star.


Amanda Richards' fascinating life has been and continues to be shaped, refined and redefined by lots of different music and musical influences.
Here's Amanda on Amanda:
"There have been so many artists that have influenced my music, but a lot of it has been indirect.  I grew up surrounded by musicians and have favored their renditions of some very famous and influential songs. (Amanda's grandfather was an eighteen year member of the legendary Country harmony group 'The Sons of the Pioneers.' ) I used to sing harmony with a friend of mine from high school. She introduced me to Joni Mitchell's music but I learned all the songs from my friend before I ever heard Joni sing them.  Same thing with Bob Dylan and CSN&Y.  ‘Diamonds and Rust’ by Joan Baez was the first song I ever learned on guitar.  My cousin taught it to me because it was the first song that she ever learned.  I didn't hear Joan Baez do it until years later."
"I listened to Country Music until I was about 12 years old.  Then, as a teenager, I really got into Classic Rock and Folk Music. When I was 18, I entered the music program at Mt. Hood Community College to study Jazz.  I had no history with Jazz and it completely kicked my ass.  Other than elementary and middle school choir, I had no educational background with music what so ever.  I had been primarily self-taught; I didn't even know the note names of the guitar strings.  I dropped out of the music program 3 times over the next 3 years....but not before getting a hardy introduction to Swing, Jazz and Blues and walking away with a deep love for Samba and Bossanova."
"I lived with a Jazz drummer for a short stint and he really helped whip my time into shape.  I now have a great sense of rhythm because of it. He also opened me up to the world of syncopation and Latin percussion.  We used to practice rudiments together and he taught me a lot about playing with and leading a band."
"I listen to a ton of music.  I really admire Tom Waits for his ever-evolving career.  He has really inspired me in terms of production with his dark, percussive themes.  I can't think of anyone more daring or musically 'cool' than him. He's the best.  I learned how to scat from him.  I'd never before heard anyone scat and still sound cool doing it, but he pulls it off and I steal a lot of my phrasing from him while I'm improvising."
"As far as songwriting goes, I think that my influences started with commercial Country music of the 1980's.  Those people really knew how to write a hook and put a commercial song together.  Later on, my writing was influenced by the descriptive verses of Leonard Cohen.  He can paint an amazing picture while at the same time being so vague that you have almost no idea what the song is about.  I love that."
Amanda Richards' outstanding debut CD, "Not Always Sexy," was actually recorded in Gresham, Oregon in 2004. Amanda now lives in Portland and performs regularly throughout the Pacific Northwest with her band. Amanda has performed at over 100 venues in the Pacific Northwest...for coffee house gatherings and for teeming crowds of thousands. All the while building quite a substantial following.
Listen to "Not Always Sexy."
Go see and hear her perform.
You'll catch a rising star.

- by Morry Feldman of Clear Channel Communications


Who Has Your Heart- 2009
Live at Mississippi Studios- 2006
Not Always Sexy- 2004



On a sunny California ranch, a freckled young girl sings the catchy chorus she’d come up with while riding the trail. For Amanda Richards, it’s a perfectly natural thing for a six-year-old to do – after all, it’s in the blood. Her country musician Dad often brings her onstage. Two aunts are country musicians. And Grandpa sang tenor in the legendary Sons of the Pioneers. It would almost be hard for her not to write and sing.

Fast-forward to a teenage Amanda hitchhiking across Oregon. She’s taught herself to play guitar, busking for cash while crafting songs that blend her country/folk heritage with bohemian spirit. A handful of coffeehouses and impromptu sidewalk gigs lead to the music program at Mt. Hood Community College, which she attends off and on. More traveling troubadour than student, Amanda frequently treks back to the childhood ranch – often earning bus fare by singing for other passengers.

By 21 she’s released her first album, Not Always Sexy. It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock, and full of memorable, radio-ready hooks. Her vulnerable yet empowered vocals have begun to take on a sultry quality beyond her years. Songs like Cookies and Whiskey are turning into rowdy sing-a-longs at her shows.

Her follow-up, Live at Mississippi Studios, captures a sold-out show featuring Amanda’s voice and guitar accompanied only by cello. In this setting, her delivery is more intimate, her stories of broken relationships more poignant. A record release party at Portland’s Aladdin Theater finds her playing to her largest crowd to date. Afterward, like any gypsy troubadour would do, she heads to the Caribbean for a few months of sun and songwriting.

Returning home, Amanda and her band win a trip to Austin for the finals of Famecast, a national battle of the bands, where they place 3rd. Bigger Oregon gigs follow, ranging from solo acoustic sets to full band shows, including a stop at Nike World Headquarters to play for The Lance Armstrong Foundation’s LIVESTRONG Challenge. Between shows, Amanda and the boys hole up in the recording studio. This time around, acoustic and electric guitars, drums and upright bass are rounded out with cello, weeping pedal steel guitars and swirling organ, creating the most diverse blend of bohemian country she’s laid down to date.