Rene Russell
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Rene Russell

Charleston, South Carolina, United States | SELF

Charleston, South Carolina, United States | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic

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MUSIC
LIVING AND BREATHING
By Kevin Oliver
If someone tells you about the latest “overnight” sensation on the music-scene, don’t believe a word of it. Most musicians who are serious about their vocation work long and hard just to get to the point where they can support themselves solely with their music. Those who don’t put in the hours before attaining mass recognition are likely to fade out of sight as fast as they appeared.
For further proof of this musical truism, ask former Columbia native Rene Russell, who was getting noticed here five years ago for her winning combination of heat-felt, impassioned vocals and proficient 12-string acoustic guitar technique.
Since leaving Columbia, Rene has spent time in Atlanta, Georgia, and her current home base, Austin, Texas, playing every bar and restaurant she could find that would let her.
“I was working a lot, but wasn’t very organized about it,” explains Rene. “Now, I feel like I’m starting over again, with the new CD, and more focus on my own songs.” The new album, a self-titled one on Texas based Verge Records, is indeed a major step forward for Rene. Her songwriting never a weak point in her performances, has been honed to a sharp edge by her years of playing solo shows, and the full band arrangements on the disc make the most of the quality material.
“Most of the songs on the album are taken directly from my own life,: she says. “they are definitely more mature songs.” One in particular, “We Live & Breathe,” is, as Rene claims,“ the story of my life, of being gay, and all of the difficulty that adds to the already tough task of growing up.” Her position of hope and tolerance for all is espoused beautifully and succinctly in the song’s chorus, “We live and breathe, we die, we fall in love. There is no difference when you’re looking through the eyes of love.” Like Melissa Etheridge, another openly gay woman rocker, Russell’s lyrical references can be taken however the listener chooses.
“Most songs, there’s maybe one line that might mean something to someone who was gay,” Rene says. “If you weren’t looking for it, you probably wouldn’t even notice. It doesn’t have to be a gay thing.” Indeed, Russell’s songs are best enjoyed as purely musical things.
With Sheryl Crow, the aforementioned Melissa Etheridge, and others in an ever increasing field of women performers out there already, one wonders if it’s too much of a good thing.
“Too many female artists shouldn’t hurt my chances,” Rene says hopefully. The current crop of female performers are both inspiration and challenged to Russell.
“It’s nice to have more women performers out there,” she admits. “Joan Osborne is the one I’m really into right now - her whole album is great.”
Somewhere, someday soon, another musician will undoubtedly be saying something similar about Rene Russell.
- Free Times


ON STAGE
By Denise LaRae

The Cowgirl’s Oasis has begun to host female performers on the weekend nights. I was privileged to attend the first of these hostings, very privileged. Rene Russell was the first guest performer, and if any of you read my article about the Lone Star Women’s Festival, you may remember that I raved about Rene’s performance there.

Rene Russell’s performance was even better than I remembered. I was worried that she might not be as good as I remembered; perhaps it was just the glamour of the festival and sleep deprivation that was coloring my memory. Wrong!

The one word that I would use to describe Rene Russell is powerful. She has a powerful voice. Whether it is throbbing with emotion, growling, or seductively mesmerizing, it reaches out and grabs something--both vital and visceral. She has a wide repertoire, but her best songs are those she herself has written, although when she performed Bobby McGee I heard the comment that she could be Janis reborn. Her performance is intensely personal and intimate.

Her personality too, is powerful. It comes across both on stage and off, and has a tremendous impact on her music. She performed solo with some technical support consisting of an electronic equivalent of the theatre’s “deus ex machina”. Any body know Latin for “band in a box”?

Anyway, it was pretty impressive. Gadgetry aside, the performance was outstanding. She had some of her newly released disks for sale, and for those who missed the performance; I believe Caroline purchased some extra disks. I’m already looking forward to her next one.

- On Stage


"Rene is a singer and songwriter and performs a wide range of acoustic rock, pop, alternative, folk and country music throughout the coastal South Carolina area on her Taylor 12 string guitar. Yes, 12 string! Visit her website to hear this wonderfully talented artist's version of time honored favorites and contemporary songs, as well as some of her original solo work and selections with fellow musician, Gary Hewitt. Her rich, soaring voice and moving interpretive style are not to be missed. "
- Ann Pope Potter, Anne Pope Potter Blog


- Ann Pope Potter Blog


"Few forces in music are as easy to enjoy or as difficult to deny as the presence of a powerful female lead vocalist. The mesmerizing strength and sheer confidence can change the face of an entire genre, particularly in the mostly male-dominated formats of rock and country. With the awesome grace and energy or a female lead, then, it’s no wonder that singer/songwriter Rene Russell has been able to hold her own for the past 18 years. A talented guitarist with an incredible voice and far more than simple rock sensibility in her writing, Rene Russell has seen success on both coasts of the USA and even popularity in more central spots like the great state of Texas. With a tremendous style that can only be described as a marriage of country rock and rock & roll, "
- Rainmaker Publicity - Rainmaker Publicity


"Rene takes her musical ideas in directions that few performers have been able to in recent times. Armed with a 12-string Taylor guitar, an indomitable voice, and self-titled, 10-track album, this sophisticated siren can burn up a stage or a stereo with the best of seasoned veterans and well-known acts. "
- Rainmaker Publicity


- Rainmaker Publicity


"AUSTIN CHRONICLE MAY 1996 RENE RUSSELL (VERGE RECORDS) This native South Carolinian has opened for such luminaries as Hootie & The Blowfish, Indigo Girls and Ellen James Society, making her no stranger to the limelight. With pipes like Melissa Etheridge, a production style a la Sam Phillips/T.Bone Burnett, wistful, often ethereal songs, she deserves to be there. This CD is strong and memorable the billing order will be reversed. -Joe Mitchell "
- Joe Mitchell, Austin Chronicle - Austin Chronicle


"Rene Russell can handle almost any musical request. The singer/guitarist has nearly two decades worth of live performances under her belt, from Nashville, to Texas to Charleston. In recent years, she's won the adoration of local audiences with her technical proficiency on the 12-string, her versatility, and her warm singing style. She can make the transition from a U2 pop hit to an Eagles twanger to a Melissa Etheridge anthem with ease. "
- Ballard Lesseman, Charleston City Paper - Charleston City Paper


Discography

Rene Russell-Last Night I Rode A Night-Mare

Rene Russell Self-Titled cd available on
www.renerussell.com

Photos

Bio

What does Rene Russsell sound like...well, my playing style sounds like a funky bass player, a claw-hammer banjo player and James Taylor playing a 12-string guitar.  I have been told my voice sounds like Stevie Nicks, Natalie Merchant, Ellen Degenerous, and  Melissa Etheridge, but really it just depends on whose song I'm singing.  When I sing my own songs I don't sound like anyone else.  
I have played all over the country in the past 20+ years and still going.  I want to focus more on songwriting in 2013 and put myself out there in a more personal way,  keep moving forward and concentrate on my "Best Life" !