Angi West
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Angi West


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"Local artist Angi West's new album released: Love is a Special Way of Feeling"

Angi West, 27 years old, just released her latest album "Love is a Special Way of Feeling" this year, and started living what once was a dream. A die-hard musician from Cullowhee, North Carolina, is making her dream come true one step at a time. She attended The University of North Carolina at Asheville and graduated with a minor in math and a major in Classical Music.

Angi West also attended the Berkeley School of Music for a year in Boston. Her parents are Tommy and Dona West of Cullowhee, North Carolina. Her mother is a teacher at Cullowhee Valley Elementary school with a special heart for children with disabilities. Everyone who knows Angi knows she has been blessed with the same kind heart her mother has. Her father Tommy is a contractor who builds homes, some of which have been published in Magazines. Tommy was a role model for hard work and most of all love.

Angi West grew up in Cullowhee, NC with her younger brother Will West, who just recently graduated from UNC Chapel Hill. Cullowhee is home, where she grew her love for music. "As a baby Angi could always sing better than she spoke, words came second to songs for her," says Dona West.

I have known Angi for quite some time, and I have always admired her for being herself, and speaking out to the world in her own way. I was talking on the phone with Angi one night, and she expressed to me how close music is to her heart, so much that she didn't care how long it took to get to the peak of her career.

She mentioned how she is stuck in the Asheville music scene right now, not because she doesn't want to go any farther with her musical career, but because of the genuine feel of the city and the people in it. She expressed a great deal of how much she didn't want to get herself wrapped up in a big-time music career, where originality and personal depth disappears. She writes and sings music because its what she loves to do. She does it for herself. "I don't care if I don't make it to the top right away, I don't want to cut myself short as a musician, I'm not doing this to be famous, I'm doing this because it's what I love," she said.

Angi West named her new album "Love is a special way of feeling" because it was something she had named her blog site a long time ago and it stuck to her. The new album will be released in January of 2009. In the mean-time she hopes everyone will come out and support her shows. The upcoming show is at The BoBo Gallery on Saturday, November 29th. Angi West just got a new drummer for her band, who she is very excited to have: Evan Martin. Her other band members include Jon Reid, Michael Libramento, and Matt Shephard. She is influenced by artists such as Samuel Barber, Robert Schumann, Hanna Kloetzer, Meher Baba, Chaka Khan, Lucy Lang, J.S. Bach, Linnea Wilson, Heather Nadel, Emma Branch, Molly Damon, Mike Horgan, Josh Carpenter and Dolly Parton.

I know for a fact that Angi West has a big crowd of fans back here in Jackson County. Her mother claims "I taught her everything she knows!" with a humored laugh afterwards. A small-town singer from the bathtub in her own home in Cullowhee to the stages of Asheville, Angi is loved and heavily supported. The hopes and dreams of Angi West are just beginning and as the town watches her grow, the town grows with her.

- The Western Carolinian

"Plays Well With Others"

When local singer/songwriter Angi West started kindergarten 20-something years ago, she wore a tutu and belted out Neil Young tunes, certain that being herself was the key to charming the rest of her class. These days, she’s still winning hearts (and an ever-increasing roster of collaborators) with her soulful, folk-tinged ballads.

Though West’s singing career is fairly new (her self-released debut, Orange Thread in a Blue Sea, came out just last year), her influences suggest an older soul. Nineteenth century German composer Robert Schumann makes the short list, along with silent Indian guru Meher Baba. The sway of female voices like Joni Mitchell’s can be felt in West’s blue notes and soprano sweeps, but it’s the mood-crafting style of Stevie Nicks and Imogen Heap that spice up the live show. “I try to keep any and all things I want to do as a possibility,” she says—from quieting a crowd to donning a hairpiece. “To me, it’s like I am my own brand. Whatever I do is myself. If I’m always honest in that, from the way I dress to the way I make a hand-made card for someone, then whatever I do is my own aesthetic.”

That artistry surfaces palpably in her outfits. West, who was born and raised near Cullowhee, admits to brooding over what she wears to a show, her clothing reflective of her mood. (She gets many retro-inspired items at Asheville’s Minx Boutique, where she also works as a bookkeeper.) That mood is what the singer hopes to share with her audience. “I can’t really play without being able to connect with everyone,” she notes.

West started recording her second album a few weeks ago, teaming up with well-known local performers like Jar-e’s Jon Reid and Michael Libramento of Stephanie’s Id. As for her live-show milieu, she reveals, “I’m not just going to offer my songs in a bland setting because that doesn’t seem fair to them.” One of her favorite stages is Bo Bo Gallery, the small but decidedly ambient art bar central to the local singer/songwriter scene. That musical genre, by the way, is seeing a big resurgence. “I think this is a new life for music because of the crumbling of the industry,” West muses. The genuine-ness of her material and do-it-yourself initiative are a sign of the times. “The days of the pop star are over,” the singer says. Now it’s her time to shine. - Verve Magazine

"Fresh Voices Gain Ground"

Fresh voices gain ground
By Chris Cooper
Angi West: Orange Thread In A Blue Sea

Thoughtfully arranged tunes that wander through elements of folk, sun-dappled guitar and piano-driven pop and the occasional hint at twangy alt-country aren’t difficult to find on Angi West’s new CD.

Carried by a shape-shifting voice and nicely crafted storytelling, Orange Thread In A Blue Sea takes a few attention-grabbing turns. Check out the cabaret drama brought by the accordion halfway through “Every Drop In This Glass,” or the shimmering pedal steel and piano of “The Light In Your Eyes” for fine examples of choosing exactly the right color at the right time to enhance a song.

West demonstrates a disarming fragility in sections of “A Good Catholic Boy,” but no other tune reveals her “old soul in a young body” personality and tone as well as “Black Crow,” sung a cappella with nary a frill to be found.

“Home” shines brightly as well, and has the most potential as a song that could gain her more attention if heard by the right ears. It wouldn’t sound out of place on an older Kate Bush album, either, in the way it’s delicate verses build until giving way to a chorus and bridge peppered with strings and West’s aching delivery. And though the word “love” makes several appearances in the lyric, there’s a pervasive sense of sadness to the song that keeps you from breathing too easily. Again, it’s that sense of drama that pulls you in, marking the difference between simply hearing something that’s “good” or something that deserves another spin to really digest and enjoy.

It probably doesn’t need to be mentioned that West is a local musician, this is her very first CD, and that the majority of the recording of Orange Thread In A Blue Sea was handled right here in WNC, but just in the case it did, well, there you go. West is a musician with no shortage of potential, and seeing where she goes with it is just one benefit of having another gifted songwriter in our midst. - Smoky Mountain News

"Love is a Special Way of Feeling"

Berklee-trained, keyboard-wielding chanteuse Angi West hails from the mountains of western North Carolina (raised in the tiny, touristy town of Cullowhee, resides in the regional cultural mecca Asheville), and her choice of name for her homegrown label couldn't be more appropriate. Think of how other bands' locales have often yielded similar descriptors: Calexico's desert noir; R.E.M.'s kudzu pop; Tortoise's Windy City worldbeat; etc.

So on West's second full-length, Appalachian anti-pop would seem the perfect tagline. West boasts a delightfully eclectic vocal style that conjures at times Feist's forceful sensuality, Tori Amos' elegant swoops ‘n' purrs, Joni Mitchell's upper-register free-form flights and Bjork's chirpy eccentricity, all put to dramatic effect against a stately-but-edgy backdrop of piano, bass and percussion occasionally augmented by horns. Those Appalachian roots shine through at unexpected moments: the a capella "Let Them Sleep," what with West's subtle slide into a regional twang, could be a vintage folksong handed down for generations; the droning arrangement of "Home in Heaven" and West's gospel-informed vocal suggest the mountain Celtic tradition and time spent as a youth singing in a church choir.

And from the elegantly operatic "Same Speed" and the delightfully-titled, slightly gothic "Lucy and Linnea" to the spangly, Feist-like "One Hand" and the title track (curiously, not credited on the sleeve) that, with its loopy accordion backing and boozy group singalong, makes you feel confident that hanging out with West & Crew down at the pub would not be without incident, the songstress exudes a rare charisma and personality. The record's gifts are bestowed slowly, subtly; spend some time with it; because, while it may be anti-pop in the sense of going against the grain, it's never the antithesis of "pop." Rather, it's the very essence.

Standout Tracks: "One Hand," "Home in Heaven" FRED MILLS - Blurt Online

"CD Reviews: Angi West: Love is a Special Way of Feeling"


Love Is A Special Way Of Feeling

Unpredictable and intriguing, Love Is a Special Way of Feeling is difficult to disregard. Even on the tracks which were not my favorites, I didn't want to miss a second. Always a fan of innovative arrangements, I was not disappointed by Ms. West's efforts on this album, particularly the vocal arrangements. Switching between a lilting, almost operatic style and a frantic, childlike outpouring, she reminds me of an impish, Broadway star. Her voice cuts sharply with a clear, crisp enunciation, completely dry of any of even the most common vocal effects. Speaking as someone who has spent a decent amount of time in bands and in recording studios, it's incredibly rare that even the most talented of singers would allow their vocal tracks to get to the mastering stage without at least a little delay or chorus or even the evil and ever-pervasive autotune on their voices. Her willingness to forego effects (on the vast majority of the tracks) speaks to Ms. West's confidence in her abilities, and she should be applauded for it. Her cadence and phrasing are wonderfully erratic, telling her stories in bursts of frenetic energy as she jumps all over the scale, seeming to pick stray notes from their hiding spots on the stave and whipping them into beautiful obedience. Lyrically, she's just ambiguous enough to make you really listen to what she's saying, and even if you think you know what she's talking about, I'd say you're just as likely to be right as wrong. While most of the tracks are light on any instrumentation other than Ms. West's voice and piano, the musicians that do appear on the album know how to lay back and let her do her thing. They provide just the right amount of stability and support for her to let go and release the stories inside her, and on the final track (also the title cut), they help comprise a rowdy, singing mob in an accordion-accompanied, pub-style cacophony — definitely the stylistic stand-out of the album. For those looking for something different, but not too different, and quirky, but not too quirky, this just might fit the bill.

— Brent Fleury - Bold Life

"Angi West's very special CD release"

Angi West's very special CD release
by Lydia See in Vol. 15 / Iss. 31 on 02/25/2009
Angi West is a musician with such purity, both personally and professionally, that it is evident in her recordings and her live show, harnessed with the ease of sharing a glass of tea with a friend. She finds a rapport with her audiences where an infinite exchange is possible, feeds off her viewers as much as they do her, and it creates a delicate balance of deep appreciation.

Photo by Lydia See
During her recent Love is a Special Way of Feeling record-release at the Grey Eagle, West effortlessly segued from song to song, while sharing introspective and silly stories with the aura of a stand-up comedienne as her impeccably dressed 11 accompanists shuffled on and off stage in varying arrangements. Seth Kauffman, Ryan Cox, Jon Reid, Rebeccah Mark and Joti Marra provided vocal harmonies. Michael Libramento added guitar. Tim Shull rocked the electric and upright bass and Billy Goodrum manned the organ and bells. Evan Martin’s drumming was seamless. Simon Goldberg and Jon Reid (aka Jar-e) played trumpet. All were supported by opener Joshua Carpenter.

Wearing a black tunic, black leggings, and an amazing teased ponytail rivaling any runway show, West flitted around the stage talking about her songs, offering champagne to anyone who would take it (mostly just her mom), and commenting on her remarkable resemblance in some poses to George Washington. She has so much fun sharing her music that everything that pops out of her mouth amuses her, from referring to Tim on bass as “Teen Wolf” all night, to reiterating the lack of pants, permanently, from her life and her evening.

During the mostly seated show, the audience seemed rapt with quiet appreciation of West’s songs and her stage presence, both of the caliber of a musician who is wise beyond her years. She has progressed immensely since the release of Orange Thread in a Blue Sea (2007), her self-produced and self-released debut, and the new material she featured represented an artist who has learned from her previous experience and compounded the quality of her music. Even older songs, such as “Blackest Crow” and “Elijah” were dripping with a further understanding of her own cognition, while songs from Love such as “One Hand” and “Home in Heaven,” both personal favorites, demonstrated West’s unique and infectious musical intimacy and an intrinsic ability to capture a wide selection of fans.

The album as a whole is not only much more musically mature, but also exceptionally well-recorded. The subtleties of West’s voice and musical style were not fully captured on Orange and have been brought more to fruition on Love. Recorded at Collapseable Studio in West Asheville, West’s sophomore album was funded by the N.C. Services for the Blind, as she has Ocular Cutaneous Albinism and was born with many visual impairments. A source of inspiration, West’s Albinism is also something that she has not always been comfortable discussing because she wanted always to be accepted on the merits of her music alone.

West’s story is a rich one, and Love is a formidable next chapter.
Learn more at - Mountain Xpress

"Local singer-songwriter Angi West releases debut album"

Local singer-songwriter Angi West releases debut album

By Justin Goble

A singer-songwriter with local roots has released a debut album that features classical melodies mixed into an alternative country style.

Angi West, who grew up on Brown Mountain in Caney Fork’s Johns Creek community and studied music in Asheville and Boston, co-produced her CD, “Orange Thread in a Blue Sea,” in addition to writing its songs.

“Orange Thread in a Blue Sea,” is the debut CD from local singer-songwriter Angi West, who’s the daughter of Tom and Dona West of Cullowhee, West, who has studied music in Asheville and Boston, wrote all the songs on the CD.

“It was released in New York earlier this month,” West said. “I didn’t really plan it that way. It was one of those things that just happened.”

West has been studying music for much of her life. She started violin lessons at age 7, and added classical voice training at 13.

“A lot of people from Jackson County really helped me along,” West said. “(Music teacher) Diana Fisher at Camp Lab and Cullowhee Valley School, and then (choral director) Bob Reid at Smoky Mountain High School and (voice professor) Mary Kay Bauer at Western Carolina University were big inspirations. My violin teacher, Cathy Arps, was also a big help. In my formative years, those people were able to make me feel like I had something special. They helped to instill a sense of confidence in me.”

After receiving a degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, West said she began concentrating on her piano playing and song-writing skills. To help with that, she spent a year at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

“I went to Berklee to focus more on arranging and song-writing and hone those chops,” she said. “I’d sung in church and could do old-style Appalachian music, but I wanted to branch out a little. My classes at Berklee helped a lot with that.”

Cullowhee native Angi West sits at the recording deck while working on her debut album, “Orange Thread in a Blue Sea.” West, who earned her bachelor’s degree in music from The University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2004. A CD release party is set for Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Grey Eagle in Asheville. Copies are available locally at In Your Ear on Main Street or online at

The results are evident on “Orange Thread in a Blue Sea,” which has songs that display wide-ranging influences from classical and bluegrass to funk and ambient music.

“The piano-led pieces are all classically derived,” West said. “I love classical piano, but the instrumentalists I worked with are so capable and talented that I just couldn’t stick with that one style when playing those songs. The Dobro player plays his instrument to where it almost has a classical ring to it, and the pedal steel player is doing more ambient sounds than the usual ‘whine’ you hear from the instrument on country records. It was nice working with talented people.

“I was really lucky, because this region secretly has a lot of great session players,” West said. “They’re as flexible as any Nashville session player I know. I found people in Asheville that I’ve seen play in bands, and they were all really able to do creative things with their instruments. They never really had too many questions. The hardest part, really, was reining in our bass player – he’s a 19-year-old prodigy from Berklee, He wanted to play too many notes and we had to hold him back. But it’s fun to be around people that talented.”

All 12 of the songs on “Orange Thread in a Blue Sea” are original compositions, and the CD includes some of the first songs West ever wrote.

“‘Home’ was the first song I wrote by myself,” West said. “I probably wrote that seven years ago. But the first song on album, ‘It’s Fine to Lie,’ I wrote only a couple months before recording. So it runs the whole gamut. There were so many songs, it was tough trying to figure out what the album wanted to be. That’s a nice problem to have, though.”

In addition to the CD’s lead vocals, West arranged all of the music and produced the album with Joshua Carpenter and Jayro Rockola.

“Throughout this whole process, I had to wear a bunch of hats,” she said. “I had to be the manager and make sure everything got done. We only had a short time in a great studio, so I had to get talented musicians who work with well with me and know how I arrange music. That made things go really fast.”

Though this is West’s first album, she gained studio experience through working on other people’s projects. That background helped her feel at ease while she was recording her album, she said.

“I ended up feeling comfortable in the studio,” West said. “I’ve spent a lot of time working on other people’s projects, so I felt good going in to record my own stuff. I think I shocked a lot of people with how at ease I was. I know a lot of people who walk into a studio and don’t feel comfortable at all. But I went in knowing what I wanted. I spent a lot of time with my friend Chris Hamilton in pre-production talking about sounds and arrangements we liked and the albums we thought sounded good. So I knew what I was going for.”

Now that the recording is done, West said she has to focus on promoting her work. While up for the challenge, the difficulty of trying to market and promote an independently-made album is something that took her by surprise.

“It’s crazy,” she said. “It’s the most work I’ve ever done, and it’s not the fun, creative part. The way the record industry works, independent musicians are only as good as they are strong. They have to do a lot of the promotion work by themselves in addition making the music. I have a ton of respect for people that are doing it and on their 10th album.”

To make some sense out of the whole process, West said she took courses at Mountain BizWorks to sharpen her business skills.

“It’s really daunting, and sometimes I want to give up and not do it anymore,” West said. “But with every little thing I learn to make it easier, I get really excited. I think it all falls into place.”

Despite the difficulty, West said she is happy to be playing music for a living.

“The only people who are crazy enough to do something like this are the ones who will be living on a prayer,” West said. “But I love the fact I chose this as a job. You have to do something with your life, and if you can do it making music, I say ‘heck yeah!’ It’s all really exciting. It’s exciting because it’s hard. You work real hard just to have one new person hear it. Right now, the album feels like an egg that just hatched, and I hope it has a great life on its own.”

West, the daughter of Tom and Dona West of Cullowhee, will celebrate the release of “Orange Thread in a Blue Sea” with a party Thursday, Aug. 30, at The Grey Eagle in Asheville.

Copies of her CD are available locally at In Your Ear on Main Street and online at

- The Sylva Herlad


Love is a Special Way of Feeling - released 2009
Orange Thread in a Blue Sea - released 2007



On February 12th 1981 Dona West looked at her sweet baby through the glass of the nursery, water frozen and snow pouring outside, as another woman pointed and noted, “Look at that poor, thing, ain't it pitiful.” The pity wore off, and the line turned into, “sit down here sweetie and sing us a song,” It was the coaxing of calico dressed old mountain women, elementary school janitors, southern Baptist preachers and opinionated uncles that convinced one small and slightly pitiful child that she was pretty damn special. Enough people told Angi West she could really sing, or win a heart or two, that she started to believe them. With an arsenal of learned confidence that is born of unwanted pity and a song for every season, Angi twists and turns through genres, always calling the songs back to the mountains and to a far off love of the early operatic melodies. Whatever the tag line to describe her music – post folk – Appalachian anti pop – operatic avant-garde folk rock – whimsical – she remains a slave to the melodies that move her and writes straight from the loneliness and hope that surround everyone.

“West is a musician with no shortage of potential, and seeing where she goes with it is just one benefit of having another gifted songwriter in our midst. She writes thoughtfully arranged tunes that wander through elements of folk, sun-dappled guitar and piano-driven pop and the occasional hint at twangy alt-country…” Chris Cooper – Smoky Mtn. New

“Angi West is ambitious, intelligent, and unafraid. She is also gracious, humble and kind. Of all her attributes, the one that stands out the most is the one that all of us could use a little more of. — Angi West has hope.” Amanda Brumfield – Pop Rock Candy Mountain

“The genuine-ness of her material and do-it-yourself initiative are a sign of the times. “The days of the pop star are over,” the singer says. Now it’s her time to shine.” – Alli Marshall for Verve