Christina Schmolke
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Christina Schmolke

Band Pop R&B


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"Idol Not Needed When Christina Has Time"

Since local pop-R&B songbird Christina began preparing her debut album and its launch party, the “Why not the Canadian Idol route?” query has come up more than once.

“It’s the No.1 question I get asked,” she says, laughing. “I just don’t feel it’s right for me. The exposure would be incredible, but in terms of the method…”

The problem, she explains, is the degree of control she’d have to relinquish to labels and the network. That’s assuming of course, she won. But she does have the chops.

Tonight, she’ll take to the Stanley A. Milner library Theatre stage in support of her debut CD, The First Time. The concert starts at 7pm and tickets are available at Tix on the Square or at the door.

Having performed at more intimate venues around town like the Blue Chair, Four Rooms, and Jeffrey’s, the 25-year-old classically trained vocalist is no stranger to the city’s small yet supportive jazz and pop-influenced R&B scene. Magic 99 radio listeners may have even heard her album’s first single, No Regrets, on the air.

However, in launching the album, the self-described perfectionist says co-ordinating three horn players, two percussionists, backup singers, a bass player and a keyboardist (not to mention promotion) isn’t unlike how she’s heard of her now-married girlfriends describe the work involved in planning their weddings.
“I’ve pretty much done everything myself and I really like that in a way because I’m such a control freak,” she says, laughing. “I really want to just to start to build a fan base and once I have that start approaching labels for distribution or something like that. But the more contol I take, the less I’m willing to relinquish it. I like having a say with what’s going on with my music and image.

Citing references ranging from Annie Lennox and the Philosopher Kings to Jill Scott and D’Angelo, Christina hit the idea of putting out an album together earlier this year when she heard about a music grant offered through Magic 99’s parent company, Rawlco. Her songs, she adds, were finally in a place where she felt comfortable taking them to the next level with musicians and collaborators like Thom Bennett to help take her there.

She isn’t, however, quitting her day job just yet. In fact, she says, working as a crisis worker informs her songwriting, something she feels would suffer if she pursued music exclusively. “In some ways, it’s very difficult” she explains of her divided passions. “But I reallylike the people I work with and the agency I work for, so I don’t find it overwhelming. I think if I were a musician and focused exclusively on that, it would be incredibly stressful.”

For now, Christina says she’s content to concentrate on details and is confident that the big picture will come more into focus as times goes on. “Ultimately, I have to try and remain internally satisfied with music because it’s easy to get attached to external things, like being somewhere by a certain time, thinking I should be doing this or doing that. I have to continually remind myself to focus on music, making the best music that I can and on making music that makes me happy.” - The Sun, Friday October 27, 2006 by Yuri Wuensch

"One name, No Regrets"

Smooth vocals and thoughtful lyrics distinguish R&B artist Christina

Before she released her first album, Christina Schmolke decided to ditch her last name.
“In some ways, that’s a little confusing because there are a lot of Christinas out there,” she says. “I have no problem with my last name, but it’s long and it’s hard for people that even know me to spell it.”
There’s no way you’ll mistake her for Christina Aguilera. Unlike the Dirrty girl, Schmolke understands the meaning of subtlety.

Her rich, sultry vocals, coupled with jazzy R&B arrangements, give her debut, The First Time, a relaxed, sophisticated feel—like a warm summer breeze on a St. Tropez beach or a glass of apres-ski wine at the Jasper Park Lodge.

Schmolke’s lyrics, however, aren’t so carefree. Arianna, a disco-flavoured number, was inspired by a moody, manipulative acquaintance. No Vacancy was written about a former employer and the woman who fell in love with him. No Regrets, which is currently in rotation on Magic 99.3 FM, was written about the falling out—and reconciliation—of two of her friends.
(The station’s parent company, Rawlco, kicked in $10,000 for the making of Schmolke’s album. She’ll release it Friday at the Stanley A. Milner Library. Tickets are $10 through Tix on the Square.)
The Journal talked to Christina about symbols, writing songs about your friends and unusual surnames.
Christina: How do you pronounce your last name?
Sandra: Spur-OH-niss. How do you pronounce yours?
C: Shmole-key.
S: Was it a tough decision to drop your last name?
C: Yeah, there’s always pros and cons. I just needed to commit to something and go with it. I don’t want to be like Prince and change it every album.
S: When I was in university, I thought about changing my last name—but I couldn’t find something I liked.
C: I’m so with you on that. Honestly, I probably spent a good year trying to find a stage name. I had friends printing off dictionary lists of all the S’s and they’d circle all the gross ones and the funny ones. Like, “How ‘bout salami?”
I met a promoter in New York and he said, “How ‘bout something really sensual like Smoke?’ ”
I hate smoke so I don’t know if I really want to be associated with that—cigarettes, second-hand smoke, doobies—so I didn’t really consider that.
S: If you were to change your name to a Prince-like symbol, what would it be?
C: A question mark. I tend to overuse certain phrases and when my friends say anything crazy, I’m always like ‘What?’
S: Are there any words you tend to overuse when you write songs?
C: I overuse the word “that.” When I wrote out the lyrics for Thom (Bennett) and Moni (Matthews), my producers, they said, “Do you know you use the word ‘that’ a lot?” So they probably cut out 10 or 15 thats. I think percussively when I’m singing—so I want to fit in a word … nuh nuh nuh … THAT. It’s easy.
S: What inspired Sugar?
C: My friend started a really serious relationship. He just said to me, “I’ve never been loved like this before.” And then I just found this funky chord thing and it sort of popped out. I was listening to a lot of Sting at the time.
S: Do your friends ever feel wary when you write a song about them?
C: They’re completely oblivious to it. I sometimes drop hints and they never pick up on them. I don’t know if they just don’t want to know or they’re just comfortable with it. So it’s kinda good because it doesn’t intrude on my boundaries and make me paranoid or self-conscious. They’re supportive of my music, but they’ve never really been interested in how much relates to them.
I would be completely the opposite. If a friend was writing a song about me, I’d want to see the lyrics and analyze it. Like, “When you say this lyric, what do you mean?” - Edmonton Journal, Sunday October 22, 2006 by Sandra Sperounes


Debut Album: The First Time
Released: October 2006
Label: Independent
Management: Self-managed




Terry David Mulligan described Edmonton singer/songwriter Christina as “someone you want to keep your eyes and ears on.” Christina blends powerful yet sultry vocals with tight and joyful grooves influenced by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Beady Belle, Paula Cole, Erykah Badu, and Prince. “Christina puts the same amount of feeling into her live show as she does into her songwriting. Watching her perform her trademark combination of original songs and classy covers, there are times she seems so intently focused on the music that the rest of the world fades away.” Dan Brodribb, ed magazine.

The Debut Album

Christina’s debut album, “The First Time” was co-produced with up and coming Edmonton musicians Thom Bennett and Moni Mathews at Homestead Recorders (Edmonton). Award-winning engineer Barry Allen engineered and mixed the album. The disc combines infectious grooves with soulful songwriting using horns, strings, and the occasional drum sample. Rawlco Radio, responsible for bringing smooth jazz formatting to Western Canada, awarded Christina a grant from their 10K 20 music project for the album. The album was released October 27,2006 at the Stanley A. Milner library theatre and Christina’s first single, “No Regrets” has been getting airplay one some of Edmonton’s hottest stations.

Early Years

Growing up in the sunny Okanagan provided the perfect background for a rich musical education. As a student, Christina received instruction in classical voice, piano, dance, and guitar and performed a lead role in several musicals. She also formed a vocal trio that was very popular at private and public events around the Okanagan. Toward the end of her highschool education, Christina attended an opera workshop at the University of British Columbia (UBC) where she was invited to study opera at the University. Although classical music was a passion of Christina’s, she instead decided to enrol at the University of Alberta to pursue a degree in Psychology and to continue her songwriting. “This period of my life really gave me the opportunity to learn about professionalism, discipline, and how to properly use and control my voice” Christina recently said.


While majoring in Psychology and minoring in music at the University of Alberta, Christina sung with the University concert choir and became a member of the well-known Edmonton vocal jazz group, FORM. During this time, her songwriting began to take on a greater depth and maturity and began performing professionally at Edmonton’s major musical venues. Christina’s voice was praised for its flexible range and unique delivery, and her passionate performances began to win Edmonton audiences.


In the Spring of 2006, Christina had the chance to live one of her dreams when she was asked to perform a gig in New York City’s premiere independent artist venue, Rockwood Musichall. The popular music venue brings in a wide variety of artists from all over North America. When asked about her experience in NYC, it’s hard for Christina to contain her enthusiasm: “I’ve been lucky enough to feel at home in several places, and New York definitely feels like somewhere I could call home in the future.”

Professional life

In addition to her musical career, Christina also is heavily involved in the mental health field working as a public educator in the area of suicide prevention. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Counselling Psychology and plans on opening a private practice in the future. “My whole life I’ve had two main passions, music and people. I plan on pursuing them both.”