Tracy Walker
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Tracy Walker


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The best kept secret in music


"For Walker, a Musical Melting Pot by Rick Bird"

She spins her songs weaving pop, jazz, soul, blues, Latin and a touch of country.

Tracy Walker's music is a classic American melting pot sound that draws on a diverse musical palette in the tradition of such female singer-songwriters from Joni Mitchell to Tracy Chapman, Alicia Keys to Norah Jones.

All those styles and more are reflected on Walker's new CD, "All This Time." She holds a CD release gig Friday at the Southgate House, Newport.

"I've listened to a lot of different music all of my life," Walker said. "I've always opened to everything. I'm a Gemini, maybe that's what it is. I take a lot out and put a lot in. I don't feel I have to format a sound to particular genre or label."

For her first new CD in five years, Walker hooked up with producer/engineer Dave Kuhn, best known for his work with jazz pianist Bob James. The two came up with a lushly produced, thickly textured album. It plays as accessible melodies for pop tastes, but is musically and lyrically interesting enough to attract plenty of diverse tastes.

It is perhaps a sound one would expect from an artist with a multi-cultural background, born in England with a British mother and American father and raised in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She landed in Cincinnati in 1986 after getting married.

"I was a baby. He had a job here," she says with a chuckle.

After a divorce, Walker stuck around the city, but did not not launch her music career until 10 years ago.

Walker drew on the Queen City's rich musical styles using a wide array of local players on her new album. For example, jazz player Mike Wade appears on trumpet; Ricky Nye checks in with boogie woogie keyboards; mountain music picker Ed Cunningham adds banjo and Blessid Union of Souls member Eddie Hedges on drums. There's fine electric guitar work from George Simon and Adam Sanregret on upright bass.

At the heart of the music is Walker's pensive, searching, always questing songwriting. Perhaps the centerpiece tune is "Life" a sad, yet hopeful song where she juxtaposes her mother's death from cancer with the birth of her sister's baby. Cunningham's soulful banjo carries the tune.

"It's that rolling theme," Walker said. "I started writing that song when my mother was sick. One of her great talents was accepting the reality of things and moving forward. That banjo has that feel to me and that's why I wanted it there."

She often explores relationships, especially the how and why people treat each other as they do.

The title track explores let downs from trusting others; "Wait and See" deals with emotionally protective walls and there's a blues rocker "Creepin' about unfulfilled romance. Yes, she agrees, she's an introspective songwriter.

"I've been trying to write a little more fictionally or about other people. I haven't mastered that yet," Walker says. "Songs start off with some kernel from my life or a feeling I have. Then I think about other people's lives. It's not all a big autobiographical piece."

Tracy acknowledges that she perhaps waited to long put out a second CD. After her debut of "Naked" a lot of fans were already asking for another. But she said her mother's death slowed her down, then it took time to make an album that required hooking up in the studio with so many diverse musicians.

Walker will of course shop the new product looking for the elusive major label deal, but after nearly a decade as an indie-artist, she is also content to take the do-it-yourself approach playing regularly in the tri-state.

"I can make a living working out of here," she said. "The Cincinnati area has a good support system and structure for musicians. There are cities that don't have any of that."

Among the musicians performing with Walker at the Southgate House Friday will be Mike Wade (trumpet), George Simon (guitar) Adam Sanregret (bass), Erwin Stuckey (drums) and Charlie Schweitzer (percussion).

Publication Date: 11-06-2003 - Cincinnati Post

"Tracy's Time: It's Been a while for Cincinnati Singer"

It's been five years since local singer/songwriter Tracy Walker released a new album.

All This Time is indeed an album about the time that has elapsed since Walker's solo debut, Naked. It is also the title track of the 11-song CD, which takes listeners on a bluesy-jazzy tour of the peaks and valleys of her last five years.

"The big reason it's been five years is my mother died in November 1999, a year after I released Naked," says Walker over coffee at the Starbucks at Fourth and Vine streets downtown. "My big plan with Naked was to release it and to tour. It was bad. I don't think I was myself again for two years after that. One day I realized I hadn't been myself, and I don't even think I even noticed it at first."

Walker's CD release party is 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, at the Southgate House in Newport. (See breakout for more info.)

The tracks on All This Time take listeners through her thoughts on love, broken hearts, moving on, addiction and her mother's cancer diagnosis. The album was released on Walker's independent label, Gallimaufree (meaning hodgepodge) Records.

The title track, "All This Time," had floated through Walker's mind for the last four years. It was also the last track she finished.

"I didn't have a title for the album, but I knew it would reveal itself to me in some way. It had been five years, and it was -- quite literally -- all this time. It seemed the obvious title," she says.

The hardest thing for Walker in finishing the album was deciding when it was finished. There are so many questions to consider: Is the guitar too loud here? Will the drummer like it? Should that be somewhere else?

"With some distance I've listened to it several times," says Walker. "And I like it. It makes me cry because there is so much time and personal energy involved. A musician friend of mine says it sounds a bit more mature than Naked, like I've settled into something. I'm still a hodgepodge style-wise -- the jazz sound that was true of Naked is true here."

After Naked, Walker won a string of accolades, including Best Singer/Songwriter in 1997 by the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards and a Cammy for Best Solo Act of 1999 by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Walker hopes that with All This Time, she is well on her way to supporting herself with music and developing her label. She has big plans: She wants to tour, win a Grammy, an MTV Video Award, -- and eventually -- end up on Where Are They Now.

"The best part is the stuff that people have given me, the stuff you can't buy," she says. "You can buy their time, but you can't buy their feelings and their passion. I've found a lot of four-leaf clovers. My partner asks me all the time how I find them. I tell her, 'I look.' - CIN Weekly

"'This Time' was right for Tracy Walker"

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Tracy Walker
Tracy Walker has been one of Cincinnati's finest singer-songwriters since she co-founded the duo Ain't Helen in the mid-'90s. But it was her 1998 solo debut, Naked, that established her own voice. Friday she releases her new CD, All This Time, a set of original jazz-influenced folk-pop. A few days ago, she took time out for a coffee, a cookie and a few questions.

Why did you make "All This Time"?

I couldn't not make the new album. I had the songs, wanted to put them out and it was past the time I really wanted to do it. It's been five years (since Naked). My mother was ill and died and that slowed me down quite a bit and then we had to come up with the money and the personnel to get the album done.

Why do you sing?

I sing because I can. I've always been musical, whether I sang or I clapped my hands, played guitar and saxophone. I'd sing throughout the day. And I've always written, so I wanted to express that.

Music can sometimes be healing, but it's just very helpful, not only for me to do it, but for people to hear it. It's a way to connect with people.

Best gig ever?

What: Tracy Walker's CD release concert
Where: Southgate House (24 E. Third St., Newport; 859-431-2201).
When: 9 p.m. Friday
How much: $10 advance; $12 day of show.
Read the CD review: Friday in Weekend
Opening for Joe Cocker at Riverbend this summer. It was great to be on that stage. It was great to be opening for somebody with that kind of career and history. And it was also great to be with the band doing some of the new songs.

Worst gig ever?

It was with Ain't Helen and KC (Phelps). I played at a fish fry during the Winter Olympics with Nancy Kerrigan. So they had a big screen TV on and they were watching the Olympic skating while we were singing, and the only one who was paying attention to us was this 4-year-old girl.

What's the last CD you listened to?

Over The Rhine's Good Dog, Bad Dog.

Favorite place in Cincinnati to eat?

Mullane's (723 Race St., downtown; 381-1331).

As an artist, why do you stay in Cincinnati?

There's a lot of opportunity in the city to develop what I'm doing. And then it also is a really central hub, so I can get to other areas - Chicago and Detroit and a lot of other cities - real easily from here.

What's the one thing you'd change about Cincinnati?

Put it on the ocean. - Cincinnati Enquirer

""Time" Peace"

Singer/songwriter Tracy Walker finds catharsis in new album project

Interview By Mike Breen

Pity the stock manager at Tower Records who has to figure out which bin to put All This Time, the new album by Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter Tracy Walker. A wildly diverse affair, Walker's follow-up to 1998's more stripped down solo debut, Naked, is built around the emotional lyrics, stirring vocals and anchoring acoustic guitar of Walker. Instead of just filling in the blanks, the impressive guest list of ace backing musicians (including Mike Wade, Ricky Nye and Ed Cunningham) adds multiple dimensions to Walker's sound.

The results are a soulful, gripping blend of Contemporary Jazz (the torch-song title track), rootsy Folk ("If You Were Losing Her To Me,"), Soul/Pop ("I've Been Looking Around") and even head-bobbing Reggae ("Love Will Make You Happy"). Engineer/co-producer David Kuhn -- who has worked with Fourplay, George Benson and many others -- helps pull together the range of influences and guest input to construct a cohesive flow that is singular to Walker. While she gives ample credit to the guests for breathing life into her songs, it's Walker's revealing, highly personal lyrics -- informed, in part, by her mother's cancer-related death -- and mesmerizing melodies that make the album such a rousing success.

As Walker prepared for this weekend's CD release party, she chatted with CityBeat (where she has a day job as an advertising coordinator) about All This Time and her career in general. If she had to file her own CD, where would she put it? "New bin, new category," she jokes. "I'm working on it."

CityBeat: There are some direct references to your mother's death on the album, but I also got an overall sense of "searching," in regards to personal and familial relationships.

Tracy Walker: Relationships -- whether romantic, friendship, work or familial -- always come with challenges. Human interaction occurs on many different levels and is both beautiful and trying. So I suppose there are several different kinds of relationships I was contemplating on this record. Losing my mother caused me to evaluate my life and relationships in a way that I had never done before.

CB: Did you find peace in creating these songs? Was there any weight lifted off of you by writing such personal songs?

TW: Absolutely! Getting things out of your head and heart and into the world, even if only on paper, is liberating. It opened me up to feel other things and think about other things. It's easy to get emotionally and mentally clogged. Sometimes I solve my own problems just by putting something down in writing or singing it. It's great to hear or see your own thoughts. And also, many songs just come to me. I don't sit down to write a song about this or that, or this or that person. The idea presents itself and I follow it.

CB: Is it ever difficult to be so emotionally invested in your art, laying things bare for the world to see? Do you ever go, "Maybe that's revealing too much"?

TW: Yes, sometimes it's difficult. I wonder, "Why would anyone want to hear this, or care about it." There is something I can't define that pushes me to do it anyway. Perhaps a few years of therapy will cure it ... I don't know. I know that music helps me to transfer emotions. Both (the) music I make and (music) that is made by others.

CB: Have you ever had to deal with issues like misogyny or racism as an artist?

TW: I have certainly experienced my share of those issues in my personal life, been called "Nigger," cross burnings, denied housing, lost my job, etc. As far as the music goes, it's been more subtle. There was a club in Cincinnati that I decided not to play because there were some issues of racism that they were not putting a stop to. Although the racism was not directed at me -- they still wanted me to play there -- I was not comfortable performing in that environment. There have been a lot of shows and festivals that have very few or no women on the bill. In most cases this is probably not a "No Chicks Allowed" mentality, but rather a response to what has been done before. So I think that will continue to get better.

CB: Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

TW: Standing in front of a mirror saying, "This isn't where I thought I'd be, but THIS is cool!" No matter what my plans are, the end result is always different (and) usually better.

TRACY WALKER celebrates the release of All This Time with a concert on Friday at the Southgate House. For more info, go to
- Cincinnati CityBeat

"Tracy Walker - The Time is Now"

by Melissa Huelsman

It's hard to believe that CAMMY-winner Tracy Walker is still working a job outside of the music business. Her unique sound is so incredible, once you put her new album in your CD player, it's impossible to take it out. After listening to Walker’s latest release, All This Time, I feel as though I’ve found a new staple for my thick and varied music collection.

This is one remarkable album, mixing styles as effortlessly as a paint machine blends colors to make the perfect hue. Jazz, blues, folk, Latin, rock – even country – all have a place in Walker’s music, and let me tell you: It’s all good.

Fans of Walker, who have followed her career through her beginnings with the bandAin’t Helen to her first solo release, Naked (1998), will not be let down by Time.

Walker is known for her mesmerizing acoustic sets, but her strapping and evocative voice impressively pilots the musicians, unlike most commercial releases where the flash and bang of the production carries weaker talent.

Walker surrounds her sound with a talented band, including Blessid Union of Soul’s drummer, Eddie Hedges. Mike Wade also deserves special mention for his soulful trumpet playing on many tracks, especially "Losing You," and George Simon soothingly rocks on electric guitar. But it is Walker’s full, lingering voice and the depth of the lyrics that make Time so powerful.

With a tone the mixture of k.d. lang and Tracy Chapman, and a sound all her own, Walker had everyone captivated at a recent listening party. Watching her live is knowing that something special is happening. There are no funky light shows, and no need for them. It’s just you and that magnetic voice.

Beyond the voice, the lyrics make you think. At once deeply personal yet open to various interpretations, anyone who has experienced love will play connect-the-dots with previous relationships.

Easily the most lyrically complicated track on the CD, "If you Were Losing Her to Me," Walker sings to an ex’s new lover. The perspective is fresh, and not because of the matter of a simple pronoun. With a country twang of the music and lyrics so deeply emotional, this song would be a top country hit if not for that simple pronoun that might make some uptight listeners even more uptight.

In "Life," Walker sings of a mother’s nonchalant voice mail that tells her daughter she has cancer, and of a sister that gets pregnant too young. These setbacks are poised against slowly bouncing music, and that bounce gives hope. That bounce is life.

It’s this kind of bravery to juxtapose lyrics and sounds that makes Time worth a listen, and what inspires such a loyal following. This is music that makes the listener think. Hopefully, it will show even more music fans that the time is now for Walker, and she finally can quit her day job. Walker’s kickoff performance for Time is 9 p.m. Friday, October 3 at the Madison Theater in Covington. CDs will be available in stores, and through her Web site, - ArtSpike Magazine


All This Time - Released November 2003
Naked - Released December 1998


Feeling a bit camera shy


For the past decade Tracy Walker has been at the forefront of Cincinnati’s folk/rock, singer/songwriter scene. She first became known for her belting alto in the group Ain’t Helen. The breakup of the band did anything but stop Tracy’s momentum. In 1998 she released her first solo recording, NAKED to rave reviews. Now after time for both introspection and observation she has released her second disc, All This Time. This disc features 10 original Walker tunes. Walker has enlisted some of Cincinnati’s finest players to ice the cake and fill out the sound for these great songs. She partnered with Bob James’ soundman David Kuhn to co-produce this collection. This full-bodied arrangement of tunes includes the work of Blessid Union of Souls’ drummer Eddie Hedges, jazz trumpet force Mike Wade, guitarist George Simon, Charlie Schweitzer on percussion, Adam Sanregret on bass, keyboardist Ricky Nye, and on mandolin Ed Cunningham.

This CD has something for everyone from the Latin flavor of Wait and See and Losin’ You to the rock of Creepin’ to the folk feel of Life and the bluesy/jazzy I've Been Lookin' Around. Tracy’s song writing, whether personal or observational is broad-reaching in its ability to move you, sometimes your heart sometimes your feet. These songs are multi-layered – they pull you in right away and the more you listen the more you hear, both musically and lyrically.

Not one to wait for hand-outs, Walker followed the example set by renegade singer/songwriter/record label executive Ani DiFranco by starting her own label, Gallimaufree Records. “I’ll always be this hodgepodge, stylistically,” Walker says of her musical style. “That is where Gallimaufree comes from. It means hodgepodge and that’s exactly what I am.” Walker’s musical style sits at the crossroads of Folk, Rock, Country, Jazz and Blues. Add to that Tracy’s mixed ethnicity, bi-continental beginnings (she was born in England) and being raised in the free-thinking, creative town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and this is what you get… a cornucopia, a hodgepodge… a Gallimaufry.

Adhering to the philosophy that growth emerges from experimentation, she performs often in varied venues from clubs to bars to benefits and festivals. Said of her opening performance for the Indigo Girls at Pepsi Jammin On Main, “…those who care about music … were taken by Tracy. It was a startling set. We got goose bumps backstage enjoying people who were enjoying it,” said Bob Elias, Event Producer. Tracy appeared this summer at Riverbend Entertainment Center with her band opening for the legendary Joe Cocker. Tracy has also opened for up-and-coming singer/songwriter Melissa Ferrick, Sally Taylor - daughter of veterans James Taylor and Carly Simon, pop-rockers Blessid Union of Souls, R&B legend “Iceman” Jerry Butler, folk icon Tom Paxton, rockers on the rise Antigone Rising, OAR and old favorite Mitch Ryder.

Critics and judges are rewarding what fans have known all along: Walker possesses a soaring alto demanding of attention. To wit: Walker beat stiff competition and was named 1997 Best Singer/Songwriter and 2000 Best Folk Artist by the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards sponsored by Cincinnati CityBeat, the city’s leading weekly newspaper of arts and issues. She was also awarded two CAMMY’s, the Cincinnati Enquirer Pop Music Awards, for Best Solo Act 1999 and Best Folk/Bluegrass Vocalist 2001. She was voted Best Local Musician in CityBeat’s Best Of Cincinnati readers’ poll and received another CEA nomination in 2002. Walker has contributed her talent and time to many fund raising efforts and has often been selected as a panelist at music seminars to share what she has learned about the business of music. Most recently she was a member of the judging panel for the National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences Demo Review Panel (NARAS - The folks who bring you the GRAMMYs).

Tracy Walker has played extensively in the Great Cincinnati are and has appeared on stages in Tucson, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Indianapolis and many other cities across the country. Tracy will be touring following the release of All This Time. Although she has performed solo almost exclusively during the past two years, she will showcase the songs of All This Time with her band.