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An Interview with Kathy Chiavola
By CSO European Contributing Journalist, Christian Lamitschka.

Kathy Chiavola was born in Chicago and raised in Kansas City, Mo. She have a very eclectic background. She grew up listening to classical music, then folk music, then joined a rock and roll band, then became and opera singer, then discovered bluegrass. The rest is history!

Question: Country Music has many new fans in Europe who may be learning about you for the first time. How would you describe the music you play to someone whoís never seen or heard you before?

Answer: Itís acoustic; a combination of traditional country and bluegrass with some blues thrown in! Itís sometimes hard driviní, sometimes very sweet. I like variety and think most folks do. I also like very hot instrumental backing. I try to sing with all the control and range I developed in classical training while staying true to popular and traditional styles so that youíd never know I was trained. 

Question: What is your current CD and how is it doing? 

Answer: FROM WHERE I STAND is a tribute to my partner, the late, great fiddler Randy Howard. It has received five star, rave reviews and it makes people laugh and cry.

Question: How did you find the title for the CD and what inspired you?

Answer: The title song ďFrom Where I StandĒ is one of the most beautiful love songs I have ever heard. Randy sang harmony on it and it is our statement of love for each other. It was written by Thom Schuyler and Jennifer Kimball. I sang the original song demo and vowed I would record it one day. 

Question: Do you write your own songs and if not, how do you go about finding songs for your albums? 

Answer: I increasingly write more songs and discover others. I am in the midst of a songwriting gold mine here in Nashville. 

Question: Whatís your favorite song among all the songs youíve recorded and whatís the story behind it?

Answer: ďA Distant MelodyĒ from my first CD LABOR OF LOVE. It was recorded live in Lisbon, Portugal with Mark OíConnor. I discovered this song when I learned the role of Peter Pan. It makes time stand still and has a magical effect on people. 

Question: How much creative control do you have over your music?

Answer: Total. 

Question: Thereís a lot of work that goes into a number one hit ... whatís it take to make it?

Answer: Well, itís not like it used to be when it took and great song, talent, money, of course and luck. Today, it just takes a lot of money and a powerful political machine.

Question: How much do your songs influence your audience?

Answer: I select songs that tell stories that most people can relate to, that reach into my heart and make me feel deeply and ultimately uplifted. I have received a lot of feedback from people about how they are touched by my songs. 

Question: The Internet is playing a bigger and bigger part in the world of music. Has the Internet hurt or helped you and how would you like to see it evolve?

Answer: The Internet has opened up a great, big wonderful world that has only helped me and other independent artists. It is making the playing field more open, as we say. It has given us another distribution channel and promotional tool. It will continue to grow giving artists more power and freedom, which is good for the music.

Question: Who do you look up to musically and where do your musical roots come from?

Answer: Many people and places. Itís really true that an artist is influenced by each singer heís heard and each person heís worked with. But I would have to say that the people who are responsible for me being here today are Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs and Willie Nelson. 

Question: What do you think about todayís Country Music versus itís roots and where do you see it going in the future?

Answer: Well, country music is alive and well; thereís just not a lot of it on top 40 radio. It lives primarily in independent artists in various pockets throughout the world, at the Grand Ol Opry, at festivals, jam sessions, taverns and dance halls. The music continues to grow and evolve while new songs are written, new singers are born and tradition is handed down. The country music business, however, is in a tremendous state of flux. When you drive down music row (where the record companies, publishing companies, and other organizations are located in Nashville) you see a lot of ďfor saleĒ signs. In my twenty-five years here, I have never witnessed anything like it. It makes you wonder if there really was a ďmurderĒ committed here like Larry Shell and Larry Cordell wrote about in their infamous song, ďMurder on Music RowĒ. 

Question: If you had a chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

Answer: I would put DJís who know and love the music back to work at every radio station in the USA, introducing every artist and song and let the playlist be determined by them and the listening audience. I would fire every record executive and hire people who know songs, singers and real artists. I would revive the Nashville Network with a nightly live country television show. This would stimulate the industry and make music exciting again. Can you imagine looking forward to each new song that is released?!

Question: As an artist you have so many different things you have to do such as recording, touring, doing interviews etc. What do you like doing the best, whatís your favorite activity?

Answer: Well, I have to say I absolutely love recording! And of course nothing can replace live performing. Thatís why we do the rest of it. 

Question: How did you get into Country Music ... is there a story behind it?

Answer: While I was still singing classical music, one of my voice students told me he had a bluegrass band. I went to hear them, he invited me to sit in and I was hooked. I had just recently heard Willie Nelsonís Blue Eyes Cryn in the Rain and was blown away by it. I felt a calling to this music.

Question: Before you became a star, where your friends and family supportive or was it a struggle? 

Answer: They told me I should follow my heart.

Question: Has your journey to success been a hard or an easy road?

Answer: It has been a struggle personally and professionally. I would have quit a long time ago if it hadnít been for the fans.

Question: What drives you? What inspired you to become an artist?

Answer: Again, feeling like this is what I am called to do; a love for the music and a love for the fans.

Question: What does it take to be a Country Star?

Answer: Today it takes a whole lot of money, some talent, great looks and luck.

Question: Whatís unique about you that differentiates you from other artists?

Answer: I suppose my eclectic background and style.

Question: Whatís the best thing about being a star and whatís the hardest thing?

Answer: I donít know if I qualify as a ďstarĒ, but the best thing is getting to connect with so many people and travel and see the world. One of the challenges is to 
to take time for oneself and relax. 

Question: Whatís your greatest challenge been in the music business?

Answer: To find the inspiration to keep going when times were tough; when I lost two bandmembers to cancer.

Question: What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which youíre proud of?

Answer: The release of each of my three CDís, each of my many international tours, receiving validation from my musical idols and hearing how my music has touched someoneís heart. 

Question: Whoís your biggest critic, yourself or others?

Answer: I suppose I am my biggest critic. At least I hope no oneís worse than I am!

Question: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?

Answer: I spend time at a nearby lake and nature preserve and walk my little Terrier dogs Possom and Pearl. 

Question: Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?

Answer: I want to find my soulmate!

Question: What private hopes and desires do you have?

Answer: I hope I can continue to grow as an artist and writer and increase my audience. On a larger scale, I pray for a peaceful world.

Question: Whatís the biggest disappointment in your life been?

Answer: No comment.

Question: Many European fans travel to Nashville for Fan Fair because of the opportunity to see so many of their favorite stars at the same time. Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?

Answer: I hope to be at Fan Fair; please check my website: www.kathychiavola.com  

Question: When youíre on tour, do you have time to play tourist?

Answer: Absolutely. I always allow time for that.

Question: Can your European fans look forward to seeing you in concert in the future?

Answer: Yes, I am coming to Europe in June of Ď04

Question: Many music fans today get their information about artists via the Internet. Do you have your own website and what information can the fans find out about you on the Internet?

Answer: As mentioned above it is www.kathychiavola.com. They can buy CDís, see my itinerary, photos, and bio. Thereís also information about Randy Howard.

Question: What are your plans for the future and how can new fans keep informed about you?

Answer: I plan to record a new CD this summer, and compile a live CD from recordings I have collected. The best way to keep informed is to check my website.

Question: Whatís the best compliment a fan has ever given you?

Answer: Oh gosh, Iíve been fortunate to receive generous compliments but the biggest one is whenever someone has been uplifted or touched in some way. That connection is what itís all about for me. Once I sang that lullaby from Peter Pan for some fado singers in Portugal. They had just finished their show and I sang for them afterwards. They didnít know me and they didnít understand English, but they cried. Thatís the power of music and being able to convey it is such a gift. 

Question: Whatís your favorite song that you didnít record and why?

Answer: Iíve got a million songs I want to record; I just havenít gotten to them yet; money and time. I hope to get to two projects this summer. 

Question: What message would you like to send to your European fans?

Answer: I love you and thanks for your enthusiasm and support! I canít wait to return to Europe!

Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )

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