OUT ON THE BAYOU
HOUSTON VOICE • DECEMBER 10,1999
Outside theOr\ 1/
> Continued from page 17
Music" features 10 songs she recorded at
her home in L.A.
After the success of her song "Let It
Rain," recorded and released by vocalist
Amanda Marshall in 3996, Hall said she
worked up the confidence to do something
she'd always wanted: She pulled up stakes
and moved to the West Coast to write songs.
Hall dove into the L.A. music industry
arena, using contacts to make more contacts
and "co-writing with anybody thev could
hook me up with." She co-wrote songs with
the likes of Jennifer Stills, Steven's daughter; Madonna back-up singer Donna
DeLori; and close friend Joanna deSeynes,
the daughter of an orchestra conductor and
an opera singer.
In her spare time, Hall learned digital
production, with the idea of producing
music herself Her newfound talent is evident on "California-Made Music," now in
limited release and available through
The CD may come as a surprise to some
fans, Hall said, because it represents an
almost complete departure from her familiar
acoustic folk style. Most of the songs were
written with other people and for other people, she said, allowing her to find new
modes of expression. She described some of
the songs as sounding like the bands Goo
Goo Dolls, Backstreet Boys and N'Synch.
"This is really different, I got to try a lot
of new things," she said. "Here I am writing songs and it doesn't have to be for me,
and it's fun!"
Asked if she finds it hard to watch other
artists perform her songs, Hall said it's just
"I get a bigger high off watching somebody else doing it. I go crazy in the audience," she said.
The best thing about L.A.? "The energy," Hall said.
"There is a frequency buzz in the air
because everyone out there is trying so
hard," she said, the enthusiasm in her
voice evident. "Some are failing, some are
succeeding, but everybody is working so
hard. It was a motivator; you can't sit still
Atlanta is home for Hall, and she's glad
of the chance to sit still for awhile. She's
putting down some roots this time—she
bought a house and is in the process of
renovating with the help of friend and
musician Andrew Hyra.
Hall is also setting up a studio, where
she'll sharpen her new production skills.
She's looking forward to sharing her talents with other area musicians, she said.
"With all these new tools, I'm encouraging people to come and write with me,"
she said. "I also want to find voices who
want to sing some songs I'm writing, and
start working with bands who need singles ... I would like to get better at production and be actively involved with the
acts, so that we produce together."
Peoples: still feeling the love
LaTonya Peoples is not into labels. But
she is into love.
Not "in love," you understand—actually
she's single—but into love. Ask her what
themes drive her music, and she answers
without hesitation: Love. Love, and making
people feel good.
So it comes as no surprise that Peoples'
first CD, which she produced and recorded
completely solo and released last year, was
called "Feel the Love." Her second, "The
Spirit Within," a more ambitious offering
backed by a full band, was released Dec. 11.
A professional violinist as well as vocalist,
Peoples alternates heartfelt lyrics with melodious violin composition to produce a sound
that, of course, she doesn't like to label.
"If I had to describe it, I'd say alternative
R&B," she finally relented. "It's not exactly
blues, not exactly jazz, not exactly folk. It's a
combination of everything."
Whatever it is, Peoples has been playing
it since she was five years old. Her parents
introduced her and her siblings to music
early on, and she "just stuck with the violin," as well as learning piano and singing
in the church choir in Topeka, Kansas,
where she grew up, she said. Not surprisingly for someone who values love above
all else, Peoples calls her family her "greatest source of strength."
At 16, Peoples became a certified
Suzuki Violin Instructor, then later
earned a bachelor's degree in music
therapy from Howard University.
"Music is something that really
makes me feel comfortable," she said.
"I want music to help people feel good
about themselves, to have an overall
sense of worth. And it can do that,
whether it's listening to someone else
or developing a skill of your own.
"Music is an expression that does not
have to use words, a way to communicate with other people," said Peoples,
who now practices as a music therapist
in a nursing home. She also gives private violin lessons, in addition to performing whenever she can.
In keeping with her anti-label, pro-
love philosophy, Peoples doesn't like
to define herself as lesbian but as a
"lover of people." Her romantic partners do happen to be women, though,
Asked if her music sends a special
message to the lesbians who come to
all her shows, she replied that her message is universal.
"It's for everybody, from all walks of
life, for anyone willing to be open and
feel the love," she said.
Peoples says her "ultimate dream" is
to open a non-profit resource center for
inner-city kids, where they can be
exposed to the arts, using creative
expression as a therapeutic outlet and
educator. The center would also offer
classes in communication, anger management and social skills, she
"My heart !..*■ always gone out to
people who are disadvantaged. Young
people really shine when they are
given attention, positive reinforcement," she said.
an urban fairytale
by Jonathan Harvey
November 18 at 8 p.m.
Plays Thursdays through
Sundays until December 12
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