Celeste Starchild
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Celeste Starchild

Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Alexandria, Virginia, United States
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Butter Sweet Spices Up Scene Sept. '06"

Mike Hume says, "The butter refers to their smooth blues sound while the sweet refers to their kind character....Of course the sweetness could also refer to the smiles the group has put on fans faces following their performances." - Falls Church News Press

"Live! The Washington Post"

First things first: Celeste Starchild is this emerging local singer-songwriter's real name. She grew up in an "alternative" household in the mountains of southwest Virginia, where picking dandelions for dandelion wine, chasing chicks and ducks in the yard and farming shiitake mushrooms were childhood activities.

Her early memories include jam sessions, as Starchild is the daughter of musicians. Her dad, Rick Schmidt, performed with the likes of Doc Scantlin's Imperial Palms Orchestra and Lowen and Navarro at various venues, including the White House. Her mom, Judith Starchild, is a singer-songwriter with several full-length albums to her credit. At age 10, Celeste was testing out her burgeoning musical skills in the recording studio with her mom.

And yet, music wasn't always the younger Starchild's career path. She entered the business world first and is a vice president of a national real estate software firm.

Which brings us to the superhero-like origins element of the story, where an old guitar acts as a catalyst to a new identity. Starchild's father died some years back and left her a vintage Gibson acoustic guitar. She taught herself to play and began writing songs. In 2005, she recorded a demo, "Cowgirl's Bible," and a second career took hold. Now Starchild finds herself balancing daytime business attire with nighttime musical venues.

"It's awfully hard," the singer said in an e-mail interview. "I don't do much else and I have a lot of late nights. It's probably the reason why I'm not dating anybody."

Starchild's debut EP, "Time Release," was produced by Kevin Gutierrez at Assembly Line Studios in Vienna and released in June 2007. True to her emotional inspirations, one track, "Darlin'," is based on lyrics she discovered in her father's belongings.

In the two years since the release, Starchild has been building a loyal fan base in the Washington area, playing at venues including the Iota Club and Cafe, Jammin' Java, the State Theatre and Bangkok Blues, switching among a variety of live configurations, from solo to acoustic duo to a full-tilt band, Butter Sweet.

Starchild said these two May shows "will be trios including Aaron Lowenberger on lead electric guitar and Rit Eru on hand percussion and harmony vocals. The trio is a really enjoyable setup for me personally because the focus can be on the songs and lyrics, but I'm supported by Aaron and Rit's talents enough that I can even set my guitar down sometimes and just do what I love -- sing!"

She has a history at both venues. FireFlies is the place where she held a release party for her debut full-length CD, "XOC," in March. "A lot of artists hold their CD release parties at the biggest venue they can find," she said. "I was more interested in finding a place that was comfortable, where we would have a sense of a gathering of fans and friends where there was space to sit and eat, get up and dance, or just lean at the bar. FireFlies fit the bill for me, and I've played there since."

As for the Evening Star, she calls it "my 'home venue' for some time. They are also committed to primarily original artists and have a super atmosphere. The audience there is always fantastic!"

"XOC," produced by Gutierrez and recorded at Assembly Line, is available on iTunes and CD Baby and at live shows. It's a diverse and sophisticated collection, predominantly guitar-based but willing to explore other melodic genres. The lyrics of "It'll Be Alright" ride atop an intriguing electronic soundscape. "Rick's Café" is a rollicking, bluesy narrative in the manner of Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." "Naked" has a playful pop bounce, and "Break" touches on Southern fiddle blues.

Given the high quality of Starchild's material, there might soon come a time when the real estate world loses a VP and the music world gains a full-time MVP.
- Marianne Meyer

"Celeste Starchild"

I believe I speak for reviewers everywhere when I say that we love it when an artist makes it this easy. Call it “love at first listen”—that quality that certain recordings possess that causes them to pop right out of the stack.

Personally, and I have said this many times, it has everything to do with production and knowing how to critically listen and judge your own work. Without a solid, professional, sound, even the best-written material will never make it to a reviewer’s ears, let alone a radio playlist. So that’s the first thing that caught my attention on this new CD by Celeste Starchild (As Zappa as it sounds, that is her real moniker).

The second thing is her voice, smooth, yet very, very powerful. So much so that she’s not the least bit challenged by a background that includes some face melting electric guitar work. She speeds through fast phrases with high intelligibility, negotiating tempo changes like a Formula 1 driver tightening it down for a corner. On the ballads and bluesier tunes, she adds a sweet edge to her voice that just puts it over the top. Lastly, her writing illustrates a real independent, dare I say “rebel,” streak. She’s certainly not one to wait out a bad situation, she rather deal with it and move on. There’s some pain and loss but that is what makes XOC consistently interesting, track after track. Celeste balances her singing career with her “day job” as VP of Broker Sales for Threewide Corporation, a developer of software solutions for the real estate industry. -RAL

"Ted Kelly of UPOP Live on XM Radio"

The name is real and so is the talent, a refreshing sound
that smoothly moves you through an ecclectic mix with distinct American
roots and rhythm.
- Ted Kelly

"Billy Hancock Says..."

ButterSweet is a refreshing departure from today's alternative music scene. Celeste's vocals are crisp and sincere, and the muscianship is quite subtle. Original songs are as if Edie Brickell collaborated with Hank Sr. They are most definitely my top pick of new bands! - Billy Hancock of American Music

"Review of Time Release by Bev Moser"

This CD is full of great up beat songs, and amazing vocals. Reach for the Sky is the 1st song and from that to the last track, If Love Was A Train, you are hooked. You get a taste of the range Celeste has musically and vocally. She can perform a slow, funky, finger snapping song and take you straight to a dark smokey room with a desparate and haunting plea sound. The track for Best Behavior has an instrumental bridge which is fantastic and production is top notch.

Celeste has been growing her skills and wowing locals in the Metro DC area and released the Debut CD in June 2007. She has a sound which combines country, blues, and ballads with true American root lyrics. Celeste Starchild is truly her real name, and combined with her band Butter Sweet they grab fans of all ages and draw them in with a unique sound and leave you wanting more. You won’t be disappointed with this CD and I look forward to more by this young artist.

- Music News Nashville

"A Dual Identity - Washington Woman Magazine (March '08 issue)"

"Starry-eyed songwriter and savvy business-woman Celeste Starchild belts 'em out. "

Copy below:
Sometimes it takes a hard shove from a good friend to make you realize your dream, even if you have a storybook name. Four years ago, Celeste Starchild � no kidding, that�s her real name � would have laughed at you if you�d told her soon she�d be performing original songs with her own band at DC venues. Both her parents were �hippie musicians,� but Starchild was too busy reaching for the next rung on the corporate ladder. Nowadays she performs her own music live at least every week.
Starchild always loved to sing, but she usually did it in private. However, when she traveled for work with her employee and good buddy, Audrey Whittington, she let the lyrics flow, sweet and loud. Whittington, an Arlington mom of three who knew talent when she heard it, surprised Starchild with a rented guitar and lessons for her birthday. Starchild started strumming and then writing music and lyrics of her own. Still, she thought of herself as too shy to perform in front of a crowd. It took another shove from Whittington and �several shots of Jack,� Starchild says, to get her onstage at her first open mike night. Soon she was hooked.
�When you really feel like you have to do something, you do it,� Starchild explains. �It was that intense. I didn�t have a choice. The alternative was living the rest of my life knowing I was too chicken to do it, and that wasn�t acceptable.�
Her voice is confident and agile, with a country lilt as she sings about the highs of love, the lows of disillusionment, and putting it all on the line for your dreams. She�s always gravitated toward female singers � Fiona Apple, Bonnie Raitt, Michelle Shocked, Norah Jones -- many of whose songs she�ll perform in one of her two to three hour sets. Whittington, who now moonlights as her manager, describes Starchild�s style as �bluesy Americana.� When you watch her perform, it�s crystal clear that she�s enjoying the ride, and you can�t help hitching along.
Once she conquered her fears, Starchild hit the local live music scene with surprising speed. After success at a few open mike nights, Starchild cut a demo in a recording studio. Soon, she�d joined talented local musicians to form the band, Butter Sweet, and started performing regular gigs all over the area. Since then Starchild has played at least a hundred gigs, sung on XM radio twice, and released a CD featuring her original songs in the summer of 2007. She�s been featured on UPOP, an international radio station with 6 million listeners, and is scheduled to reappear this month. She�s wowed the crowds at the Cherry Blossom Festival, the National Capital Area Barbeque Battle, the DC Scene Winter Jam, and headed to Memphis for the International Folk Alliance Conference last month.
While you might think that having such seemingly contradictory careers would be impossible, Starchild has made the merger work. She stresses that the careers have more in common than you�d think.
�All the principles that guide business � quality, process, personnel, and networking � also guide my music career,� she explains. She also believes that business has a creative aspect.
�I see business as an art,� she adds. �I think there�s a lot of creativity there.� The reliability of her day job helps to support all the expenses � studio time, equipment, rehearsal space, photo shots -- of her budding musical career. The stability of her day job allows her to make music that she loves rather than catering to the current trends. She�s most proud of the quality and integrity of her songs.
�I have the best of both worlds,� she says. �Lots of artists have to compromise.�
Which is not to say that it�s easy to maintain her dual identity. Her current job as vice-president of broker sales for a technology firm requires her to spend a third of her time traveling. Sometimes she works all day in Morgantown, WV, and then drives three and a half hours to get to a gig in time to be onstage at 9:30. Ironically, she thinks these marathon days have produced some of her best shows.
�The music is an energy replenisher for her,� explains Whittington.
Starchild, who lives in the Del Ray section of Alexandria with her dachshund Roxey, may have been more prepared for the life of a performer than she realized, because her dad �spent his whole life rehearsing and gigging.� Her mom still sings and writes songs. Starchild was at the very beginning of her musical journey when her dad died of cancer. In his will, he left her his 1933 Gibson guitar in impeccable shape. It�s nickname was �Butter,� which led to the name for the band, Butter Sweet.
�It was almost as though he had passed the torch,� Starchild says wistfully. Later, when she was going through one of her dad�s old suitcases she found some lyrics he�d written. She thought they were beautiful and added her own music to write �Darlin�,� which featured on her CD. The song is a lovely, soulful collaboration of father and daughter.
�The music is so much more personal than the day job, so it really becomes an outlet to tell stories about real life and sort of commune with people,� explains Starchild. An original trilogy of songs about a particular ex-boyfriend follows the trajectory of the relationship from the first date to the breakup. �I�m embarrassed to say that my songs are all about me,� she adds with a laugh.
Her heartfelt and energetic music appeals to a wide variety of ages, especially at the local festivals. And there have been unexpected perks. Her current boyfriend was a fan she met at a gig who just wouldn�t give up. �If I�ve broken up with him by the time this article runs, I�m sure there will be a song about it,� she says with a smile.
Her most embarrassing moment came from being a newbie at figuring out the equipment. Butter Sweet was playing at a venue in Annapolis and had some major feedback issues.
�The glass in the mirror at the back of the bar almost broke,� laughs Starchild. �We were not invited back.�
Her ending isn�t quite as storybook as she�d like yet. While Starchild is thrilled to be playing great local venues, like Iota, Clyde�s, Evening Star, and Bangkok Blues, she wouldn�t mind a gig at the Birchmere. And her ultimate high would be a main stage performance at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX.
What she�s enjoyed most is watching the evolution of her songs from some doodling she did in her apartment to experiencing her own music in production with some of the best performers around.
�It�s a little like giving birth,� she says. �And when people are singing along with my words at a gig, there�s absolutely nothing like it.�
- Amy White

"Time Release"

We met last evening in the Evening Star after the gig when I picked up a copy of your CD. I'm writing this on a slow train from DC to New York It seemed like a good time to put it on my laptop and take a listen. I've bought CDs of singers I've heard in bars before and when I've played them the day after, when the beer and atmosphere have worn off, I've always thought "why did I bother" and stuck them on the shelf and never listened to them again. But your CD is very different. I've played it through three times now and I like it more each time. All the tracks are definitely going onto my IPod and the CD is going to live in my car.

The technical quality is excellent and the band are very fine, but what makes it special is that you have a GREAT voice and a remarkable song-writing ability. There is not one musical cliche in there and each track sounds fresh and new. You have a special ability and I am very envious (dammit). I really liked the tempo shift on "If love was a train" and the lyrics are very witty, but my favourite is "Apple of My Eye" - it's a really tricky song calling for lots of vocal dexterity and perfect timing - you pull it off effotlessly.

I'm going to play this for folks back in England. I'm sure they're going to like it as much as I do. - Nick Thorn, Oxford


March 2009: "XOC" Full Length CD - available on iTunes, CD Baby, and at live performances.

June, 2007: "Time Release" EP - available on iTunes, CD Baby, and at live performances.

2005: "Cowgirl's Bible" 5 song demo



Celeste Starchild is an emerging contemporary DC-based singer-songwriter with songs that seems to land a place in people's hearts. Her personal claim to fame is "smart lyrics and dynamic vocals." Just a few years into her music career, she's already produced sophistocated studio compositions, including two releases in the UK. Her live shows are also well received. In the words of one fan, " I was struck by her powerful presence and delivery."

Celeste Starchild and her band have played extensively in the DC/metro area, including DC's Cherry Blossom Festival, The National BBQ Battle, Iota, Jammin' Java, The State Theater, Bangkok Blues, and Evening Star. Among her credits are numerous appearances on XM Radio's UPOP, a feature profile in Washington Woman magazine, and an appearance on the cable television show "American Music."

In June 2007 Celeste released her debut EP "Time Release," and in 2009 she released her first full length album, "XOC," produced by Kevin Gutierrez and recorded at Assembly Line Studios in Vienna, VA. The CD includes an eclectic mix of sounds and genres; predominantly guitar-driven, mid-tempo and melodic. "XOC" also features some notable guests, including renowned violinist Ann Marie Calhoun and legendary bluesman Terry Garland.

By Amy Brecount White:

Celeste Starchild has a double identity. By day, she is a Vice President of a national real estate software firm. By night, she is an accomplished singer-songwriter with a brand new CD and a growing following. Her personal journey into music took the winding, scenic route. And, yes, that is her real name.

Growing up with alternative parents, Starchild ironically rebelled by following a more conventional path of success. Her memories of childhood include jam sessions at the house, picking dandelions for dandelion wine, shiitake mushroom farming, and ducks and chickens running around the yard. But Starchild traded the mountains of southwest Virginia for a successful career in business in Washington, DC. Yet, when her dad died of cancer and left her a 1933 acoustic Gibson guitar, she could notkeep her hands off it.

She learned to play it and started writing songs. With a few shoves from a good friend, less than two years later she is playing all over, including Iota, Jammin' Java, and Bangkok Blues. She has performed twice on XM radio and appeared on other local broadcasts. Her voice is rich and evocative when she sings of love and disillusionment and going for your dreams. She calls it conveying rather than singing. On her new CD, "Time Release," she sings the song Darlin', which is based on lyrics she found in her father's belongings.

"My life is a kinda crazy," says Starchild. "I often go straight from a long day of meetings to a long night of singing, but I wouldn't have it any other way."