* Has music helped you thru a difficult or traumatic time in your

I'm not sure whether music has helped me thru difficult times or if it's
the other way around. What I mean is, difficult and traumatic times
definitely help to create music.

For instance, when a friend stopped talking to me and a publisher told
me my songs weren't desparate enough, I went home and wrote "Change of Heart"! After the song became a big hit for Cyndi Lauper, the estranged
friend called to congratulate me!

One more example would be "Stronger Than the Wind" which I wrote with Tony Sciuto while my mother, whom I loved without reserve, was dying of cancer. Being her primary caretaker and having to watch her slip away day by day, I truly had to be stronger than the wind. About a year later, the song was recorded by Tina Turner. Tina told me that the song sent chills up and down her spine!

Through music we turn our most difficult trials and tribulations into
positive creations! So in that sense, in answer to your original
question, music has helped me thru difficult times in that, when I look
back on times of suffering, I can see the good that resulted - the songs
along with my own growth. When the pain is long gone and forgotten, the
music remains - like turning poison to medicine. Music has the power to heal!

--Essra Mohawk

ESSRA MOHAWK- Singer/Songwriter
Born and raised in Phila., Pa.

Attended Phila. College of Art (major: fine arts) on scholarship.
Her 1st record release was a single "The Boy With the Way" /b-side "Memory of Your Voice" on Liberty records in 1964. "Newcomer Pick" in Cashbox, it was produced by Hutch Davie (He produced Shirley Ellis "Name Game"). A year later in New York both Koppelman & Rubin and United Artists offered her a position as a staff writer. She took neither offer but Shadow Morton who produced both the Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge, discovered her and her music and in 1966 the Shangri-La's recorded Essra's song "I'll Never Learn" . Soon after that, her song, "The Spell That Comes After" was recorded by Vanilla Fudge on their "Renaissance" album. In 1967, Essra was discovered once again. This time by Frank Zappa who, after hearing her play was so blown away, he immediately invited her to join his band, The Mothers of Invention, thus making her their first female member. Within a year he signed her and released her first solo album on Verve. While performing with the Mothers, Essra also opened for Cream(their first time in New York), Procol Harum(Keith Reid's lyrics to "Quite Rightly So" are about Essra), Albert King, Electric Flag, Grateful Dead(their first performance in N.Y.), and Jimi Hendrix. By 1969 Essra was recording her second album in L.A. and S.F. for Reprise after Mo Ostin (then Vice Pres.) discovered her singing at a club in N.Y. and asked her on the spot to come to the label. The result was "Primordial Lovers", an LP that received a 5 star review in Downbeat, raves in Mix, and was stated as being "one of the best 25 albums ever made" in Rolling Stone magazine. Unfortunately, these reviews came over a year after the release of the album and new fans found it hard to secure the LP due to poor distribution and the sale of the Reprise label following the release. Nevertheless, this critically acclaimed musical work continues to generate a cult following for Essra. In fall of 2000 it was released on CD by Rhino Handmade. She wrote most of the songs while living in Mendocino, California. While recording the album, Essra married her producer, Frazier Mohawk, and from that time on was known as Essra Mohawk. She also sang in a background vocal trio with Carole King.

Essra's third album, released in 1974 on Elektra/Asylum, once again without proper promotion or distribution, led England's music magazine, Melody Maker, to declare it, "the richest and most unheralded event in American music" that year.

After moving back to Philadelphia in the 70's, Ms. Mohawk continued to sing as a session vocalist. She is especially known for singing on Schoolhouse Rock, the popular educational and musical cartoon series that continues to air on TV. Essra's vocals are on "Interjections", "Sufferin' Till Suffrage", and "Mother Necessity". After ABC Video released the cartoons on video* in the 90's, they received an upsurge of popularity and the troupe, led by music director, Bob Dorough, began performing live in the mid-90's.

A new album on which Essra sang wrote and produced a track entitled "Do You Wanna Party" about political parties in the U.S. was released on Rhino in Sept. '98 on an album called "Schoolhouse Rocks the Vote".

Ms. Mohawk's fourth album was released on Private Stock records in 1976. After the same lack of support that has kept Essra's remarkable music in the shadows, she left the label and moved back to California in 1977. Paul Kantner wanted her to be the lead singer in Jefferson Starship after Grace Slick dropped out for a while but he couldn't convince the rest of the band to use another female vocalist so they chose a male, Micky Thomas, instead. In 1980-82 Essra performed as a background vocalist with the Jerry Garcia Band. During the same period she co-wrote "Haze" with Bobby Weir and his band "Bobby and the Midnights" for their Atlantic release. Also, Essra has collaborated with Al Jarreau, Bonnie Bramlett, Mark McEntee of the DiVinyls, Eric Bazilian, Al Stewart and Narada Michael Walden. She sang and recorded with John Mellencamp. (He'd seek her out wherever she lived for her advice and encouragement.)

Essra's music and ideas inspired Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" (Essra was scheduled to play at the original Woodstock, but her manager missed a turn and they arrived too late. She finally played at the 25th Anniversary at Bethel.) David Crosby's "Deja Vu" was inspired by Essra's song "I Have Been Here Before". David would ask her to play it for him whenever he saw her and then wrote "Deja Vu" as a result.

In 1982, when Essra moved back to Philadelphia from L.A., she was brought into the McFadden & Whitehead pre-production sessions. Essra conjured up "Not With Me" overnight for the duo and they released it on their Capitol album that year.

Essra recorded two more solo albums in the 80's. Both were released independently and both were produced by her, then, husband Daoud Shaw (Van Morrison's drummer for many years and original drummer for Saturday Night Live). They first met during those early days on Bleeker St. in New York's Greenwich Village, where she jammed vocally with jazz greats: Mike Manieri, the Brecker Bros., Eddie Gomez and Jeremy Steig. As a result her vocal style developed more along the lines of a wind instrument than that of a typical pop singer. Being in the Mothers then also helped to propel the youth to such a creative and original stance as a vocalist.

Essra's eclectic influences begin with her parents, Anne and Henry Hurvitz, who sang and wrote 40's style standards, and include: Judy Garland, Nina Simone, The Coasters, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Thelonius Monk, Erik Satie, Billy Holiday, Otis Redding, The Beatles, Ravi Shankar, The Rolling Stones and Ravel.
*on Kid Video chart over 75 weeks

Essra's career as a songwriter took off when Cyndi Lauper recorded "Change of Heart" in 1986. It went to #3 on Billboard's top 200 in 1987, winning an award from BMI for airplay. The album it was on ("True Colors") went platinum. Since then many artists have recorded Essra's songs and continue to do so. (see list below) The singer-songwriter's over 600 songs, have recently been archived for future releases. Three of her early LPs were reissued on CDs in Japan in spring 2003, followed by her recent tours to California and Japan . Essra's first album on CD "Raindance" which was released on Schoolkids Records in '95 was entered for Grammy nominations for Best Pop Album and Best Female Pop Vocalist.

Her 1999 CD, "Essie Mae Hawk Meets the Killer Groove Band", was entered for 4 Grammy nominations: Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song, Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance! Essra has been living in Nashville, TN since 1993 where she continues to write and record, playing her music on piano, mandolin and guitar.

Keb' Mo', Steve Cropper and Bonnie Bramlett are among the stellar performers who joined Essra on a new CD produced by Jon Tiven just released Oct. '03 on Evidence Records.
DISCOGRAPHY: (all chart positions from Billboard)
1964 1st single released under the name of Jamie Carter on Liberty (titles in text above)

1966 "I'LL NEVER LEARN"/Shangri-Las/ b-side of "Sweet Sounds of Summer" now available on CD "The Best of the Shangri-Las"/Mercury(1996)#314 532 371-2

1968 "THE SPELL THAT COMES AFTER"/Vanilla Fudge "Renaissance"LP/ATCO
reissued 1998 on CD/Sundazed Records

1969 1st album released "Sandy's Album is Here at Last"/ Verve #V6-5064-X

1970 2nd album released(1st as Essra Mohawk) "Primordial Lovers"/WB Reprise #6377

1974 3rd album released "ESSRA MOHAWK" w/Maxfield Parrish-like cover art #7E-1023

1976 4th album released "ESSRA"/Private Stock Records/#PS2024 on Elektra/Asylum

1981 "HAZE"/Bobby & the Midnights/Atlantic Records

1982 "NOT WITH ME"/McFadden & Whitehead, "Movin' On"/Capitol EMI #ST-12251

1982 5th solo album "BURNIN' SHININ' "(released unbeknownst to artist)/ San Francisco Sound #SFS 11810

1985 6th solo album(last on vinyl) "E-TURN"/Eclipse Records #E0001

1986 "CHANGE OF HEART"/single from Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" LP/Epic *platinum* released again on CD "Twelve Deadly Cyns" in 1994 on Sony/went to #1 on UK album chart


1989 "STRONGER THAN THE WIND"/Tina Turner/released on 3 different b-sides off Tina's "Foreign Affairs" LP/Capitol EMI

1990 "SO INTENSE"/single off Lisa Fischer LP "So Intense"#5 R&B album chart/Elektra

1991 "HAND OVER YOUR HEART"/Lorrie Morgan "Something in Red"LP/BMG *platinum*

1992 "ONE STRIKE"/single by Degrees of Motion (Esquire Records) Top 40 on Dance Charts.

1993 "I'VE HAD IT ALL"/Lowen & Navarro "Broken Moon" CD Parachute/(Mercury) #314 518 309-2

1994 "CAN'T TURN THE NIGHT OFF"/Annie Haslam of Renaissance "Blessing in Disguise" CD (One Way Records #PRO-101)

1995 "BABY'S GOT A HABIT"/Joe Lynn Turner "Nothing's Changed"/(Mayhem Records) #CDMFN 189

1995 7th solo album(1st on CD) "RAINDANCE"/(Schoolkids Records) #SKR 1528

1996 "SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK"/4 CD Boxed Set(incl. 3 tracks w/Mohawk's vocals) Kid Rhino

1998 "WHAT'S IT GONNA' BE"/Rita Coolidge CD "Thinkin' About You"/Innerworks FOF-2100-2

1998 "DREAM"/Peabo Bryson "Barney's Great Adventure-the movie" (soundtrack on CD)

1999 8th album "Essie Mae Hawk Meets the KillerGrooveBand" (MummyPump) [remastered in 2003]

2000 "PRIMORDIAL LOVERS MM"/ Essra Mohawk (Rhino Handmade) #RHM2 7720

2001 "INFINITE EYES"/Keb Mo CD "Big Wide Grin" (Sony Wonder) #LK 63829

2001 9th solo album (1st live) "Essra Live at Genghis Cohen" (MummyPump)
2001 single, "Whatever It Takes" from "Raindance" reissue (MummyPump)

2002 "RAINDANCE" Album Reissue (MummyPump)

2002 "SHADOW ON THE MOON"/Julian Dawson "Hillbilly Zen" (Blue Rose Records) #BLU CD0272

2002 "Riders On The Storm"/LOVE HER MADLY/CD of Doors songs recorded by Women Artists(SkippingDiscs)

2003 10th solo album "You're Not Alone" (Evidence) #ECD 28004-2

2004 "Golden Years"/SPIDERS from VENUS/CD of David Bowie songs recorded by Women Artists(SkippingDiscs)

Essra's work has appeared on Pop, Dance, R&B, Country and Kid Video charts


Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?

One album that I has been very important to me for the last 25 years is Music For 18 Musicians by Steve Reich. I find my relationship with many artists and their material changes with the seasons, and often I go through phases of listening. The excitement of discovering something new can be very special, but it’s awesome when a deeper connection grows with time. After a quarter of a century I’m sure I will always be able to return to Reich’s amazing piece and find something that moves me. Although it’s impossible to anticipate how well a piece of art will age, I feel that 18 will last through the ages. Other all-time favorite albums are Music For Airports by Brian Eno, What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, and Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.

Music Bio:

Based in Toronto, Kurt Swinghammer writes songs, scores films, composes for TV shows and commercials, produces, arranges, and engineers recordings of his own material and of other artists, performs as a solo act and in numerous bands, and as a session musician appears on many CD's. His most recent solo release, black eyed sue, explores a relationship through 15 highly personal songs performed on acoustic instruments. His disk Vostok 6 is an electronic concept album inspired by Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, and was released internationally on Righteous Babe Records.

Art Bio:

Since attending the Ontario College of Art in the late 70's Swinghammer has explored a diverse array of mediums and media while balancing "fine" and "commercial" art. His commercial work first received national exposure through the album sleeves, t-shirts and wardrobe of the media friendly jazz/funk quartet The Shuffle Demons. His local identity as a "street artist" was reinforced through widely distributed graphics for community radio station CKLN, club murals at the Cameron House and Lee's Palace, and posters for the Music Gallery and his own performances.

This reputation was further established with numerous appearances on Much Music, City TV's The New Music and other local shows which demonstrated how well his bold, colourful graphics translated to TV. His signature style was in full effect on wildly successful videos for Maestro Fresh Wes which won Juno and Much Music awards, and this in turn led to art directing numerous commercials for companies that wanted to tap into the Rap vibe. The street artist perception remains intact as evidenced by the 1998 NOW magazine annual reader's poll in which Swinghammer received second place as the best graffiti artist in Toronto, even though he has never tagged a building in his life.

Swinghammer has always created bodies of work that are removed from any commercial concerns. Since 1975 he has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Southern Ontario artist run centers and private galleries and was honoured with a purchase by The Canada Council Art Bank. He continues to produce and exhibit personal work.
NEW-Ginger Snaps II  soundtrack released
Maple Music

Trish Klein


Allison Russell

Diona Davies

There are so may cd's that have inspired me and my musical inspirations are myriad and diverse-- it's hard to know where to begin....Some cd's that are particularly meaningful to me: Sheila Chandra's The Zen Kiss,  Taj Mahal's Giant Step and the Old Folks at Home, Raffi's  Corner Grocery Store, Tom Waits' the Early Years volumes one and two, John Zorn's  Bar Kokhba, Bach's B-Minor Mass, Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball, Michelle Shocked's Arkansas Traveller and Habib Koite and Bamada's Ma Ya.


Vagabond lullabies, hobo-poetry, inner-city blues. These urban minstrels pen harmony drenched melodies to warm your toes. Guitar, banjo, fiddle, clarinet, and harmonica create sultry and rustic ambience both nostalgic and contemporary. Take the bellow of the blues, the wail of a gypsy fiddle, punk-rock street poetry, a cajun love song, and depression-era jazz, mix it all up and add some old R&B. The sound of Po' Girl is elusive yet rich with musical references. It's all in there.

Following the release of their debut album Po' Girl has been touring relentlessly across NorthAmerica and the UK. Braving every kind of terrain and weather condition in their well loved van "shaggy" they have performed for and won over audiences from all walks of life

Currently the band is working on their second release to be named "Vagabond Lullabies". The album will be released mid-summer 2004. Po' Girl will be playing at Canadian Folk Fests throughout the summer, while the fall of 2004 sees the band touring Italy, the UK, Eastern Canada, and the US. They also have plans for a tour of Australia in the winter of 2004/05.


* Your musical inspirations?

—Some of the songwriters that have inspired me the most are Carole King, Elton John, and Jim Steinman—A lot of my inspiration also comes from the people closest to me- my mother, my grandparents, friends and relationships that I have been in that have in some way impacted my life.

* Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?

—I love pretty much anything that Coldplay does. I love Carole King’s Tapestry album. Songs I love are: Sheryl Crow “If It Makes You Happy”, U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name”. I love oldies songs because they’re so happy and uplifting.

* How has music inspired you?

– Even though this sounds really simple, music makes me happy. It has
always been my release whether or not I realized it.

*Has music helped you thru a difficult or traumatic time in
your life?

—definitely. I write from a place of complete honesty. Sometimes that’s hard because it’s like putting a microscope to my life. For me has actually helped me get through some really hard times and has helped me to
understand why I feel the way I do.

Kari Kimmel is quickly emerging as one of pop music’s freshest talents. Currently writing and recording her first solo album, this young songwriter’s powerful voice and passionate delivery leave no doubt that she will be a star.

Kari developed a love for music at an early age, humming tunes of legendary artists such as Carole King, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie and Elton John. Today, this young and energetic artist writes and performs in a popular style, but retains the influences of the classic singer-songwriters she has always admired.

At the age of 11, Kari started playing her family’s organ. “Growing up, we didn’t have a piano at home, but for some reason we had an organ. I didn’t know any better so I started playing it like a piano.” Now fully versed in piano, she describes her relationship with the instrument as “an obsession.” Kari plays guitar and piano onstage and on select recordings.

Kari’s passion as a songwriter began at the beginning of high school when she became the lead singer in a band, and started to write several songs a week. To date, Kari has written over 200 songs, many of which have been recorded by well known artists. Most recently, American Idol second runner up, Kimberly Locke, has recorded one of Kari’s songs for her upcoming album. She has also written for television series The Young and the Restless, 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter, and several of her songs have also recently appeared on the MTV hit reality series, Camp Jim.

Opportunities inevitably arose for Kari to perform at prominent events. She was invited to perform her own material at a benefit hosted by Prince Edward of Wales and has showcased for Teen People Magazine’s Up-and-Coming Artists. She has appeared at landmark venues such as Nashville’s Blue Bird Café and the Exit/In, New York City’s The Bitter End, and The Mint and The Whisky in Los Angeles. Additionally, she performs an open-air concert every Fourth of July in Orlando, Florida.

The media has recently noticed Kari’s talents as well. VH1 and the A&R resource and publicity site, demo-diaries, have featured her as an unsigned artist. Additionally, she has appeared in the industry trade magazine, Hits, on several occasions as a hot artist. Kari recently recorded the lead single to the upcoming Miramax/Disney Film, Ella Enchanted, a contemporary story of Cinderella, which will be going to radio in March.

Kari’s skill and range as an artist is evident whenever she performs any of her infectious hits such as “Taking A Ride,” “I Could,” and “Notice Me,” or her piano ballads, “Dreamer,” “Innocence,” and “You Were There for Me.” Regardless of the song she performs, Kari’s beauty and passion is captivating. It’s time for the world to hear.


Your musical inspirations?

My musical inspirations have pretty much run the gamut as far as styles and genres and artists. But to single out the single most relevant and inspiring artist for me would actually be easy. The Beatles. To really describe in detail the how and why they are the best band/musical group ever would take hours. But the reason they have been an inspiration to me is different than why I think they are the greatest entertainers of all time.

I grew up with the Beatles and the Beatles grew up with me. Although their career as a group had long been over when I was born in 1983, my parents introduced me to the Beatles through records like Hard Day's Night and With The Beatles at an early age. It was those albums that I loved as a young kid. Songs like "I Should Have Known Better" and "All My Loving" were the songs that I danced and lip-synched to in my living room. As I got older and became more serious about songwriting and guitar playing, I found an appreciation for more complex chord progressions and melodies. This was the time that I came to love albums like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Revolver and songs like "Eleanor Rigby", "Here, There and Everywhere", and "Getting Better". Then as an older teenager and now as a professional singer/songwriter, I am in awe of The Beatles work late in their career as a band. As each individual Beatle was discovering their own musical voices (Ringo on "Yellow Submarine" and George writing songs like "Here Comes the Sun") the band was breaking ground with chart singles, album sales, and musical experimentation and diversity. The White Album was a record like no one had ever made before and The Beatles last album "Let It Be", was filmed during the making and made into a film. Songs like "I've Got a Feeling", "The Long and Winding Road", "Blackbird", and "Revolution" are some of my favorite Beatle songs ever recorded.

So even though The Beatles were no longer an active band as I was growing up, I felt as though when the Beatles started to become better musicians, so was I. When The Beatles were becoming better vocalists, so was I. When the Beatles were becoming better songwriters, so was I. And now that the Beatles have left their musical careers content and fulfilled by what their experience with music offered them, hopefully so now will I.

Justin Tosco

Known collectively as justincase, the Tosco siblings -- brothers Justin and Nick and sister Hannah -- have together fashioned one of the most refreshing and original sounds in recent musical memory. It's a sound front and center on justincase, their debut release on Maverick Records, featuring eleven originals tracks written by the band's frontman - and eldest brother - Justin Tosco.

As original and unexpected as their music might be, justincase is hardly an overnight sensation. The trio has been actively performing for seven years in and around the North Carolina area. Currently 20, 18 and 17 respectively, Justin, Nick and Hannah grew up with music in the home.

Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, the siblings were exposed early on to a diverse array of influences, from their father's vinyl collection of 60's icons to such contemporary radio staples as Third Eye Blind, Goo Goo Dolls, and Foo Fighters. "We were all big fans of the Beatles" explains Justin, "That was the music that first inspired me to start writing. We used to play at parties and school talent shows, because those were the only places you could get in with an eleven year-old bass player. We kept at it and, by 1998, the three of us decided to make a real commitment."

While it may be hard to imagine a trio as young as the Toscos charting a course for their lives, it was obvious to anyone who heard them that music was a key element in the family's extraordinary unity. "We're brothers and sisters," explains Justin. "Of course we argue, but never about the music. That's too important a connection for all of us."

Working on weekends and around their school schedules, justincase built a growing following throughout the Southeast, performing at many large festivals, including Center CityFest, Carolina Musicfest, WEND's End of Summer Weenie Roast, Matthews Alive Festival, Springfest, and Festival in the Park. Other performances included ones at Tremont Music Hall, The Great Aunt Stella Center, and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.

justincase took the Grand Prize in a national contest sponsored by Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. As a result, they are featured in the book So, You Wanna Be a Rock Star, published in April, 1999. As the Grand Prize winner, their schedule included bookstore signings, TV appearances, radio interviews, and an inclusion on a compilation CD.

They recorded a three-song demo with gold album producer, Steven Haigler (Fuel, Oleander, The Nixons). As word of mouth spread, the trio's three-song demo was a calling card for major labels. Meanwhile they were making their presence felt on the internet on a variety of alternative music sites and playing showcases as far away as New York City, at the legendary Brownies, and Las Vegas, for the famed EAT'M Music Conference.

It was at EAT'M, in fact, that the trio met the then-unsigned Michelle Branch, who was also performing at the conference, and soon became an ardent friend and supporter of the group. Subsequently signed to Maverick Records, the singer/songwriter was quick to introduce justincase to label executives who wasted no time in signing the threesome to an exclusive contract. It was in early 2002 that justincase found themselves in Los Angeles, recording their debut album.

"It was an incredible experience," enthuses Justin. "We ended up working with five different producers in four separate studios and each one brought out a different facet of our sound." Among the notable talent behind the boards: John Shanks, known for his work with Michelle Branch, Sheryl Crow and Unwritten Law, as well as such respected names as Greg Wells and Dave Bassett. "I also did a lot of co-writing for the first time ever," continues Justin. "We worked hard to get to the point where we could prove ourselves in the studio and then we had the opportunity to kick it up to a whole new level."

It's an opportunity that paid off in spectacular fashion. From the opening notes of "What I Wouldn't Do," through such standout tracks as "Don't Cry For Us" (co-written by Michelle Branch), "I'm There," and "Letter," justincase is a beguiling blend of memorable melodies, instantly appealing hooks and honest, upfront lyrics from a group that was, literally, born to be together.

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