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January 16, 2011Bloomington has one more reason to be proud of its vibrant music scene.Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cindy Kallet has legions of fans from coast to coast and beyond. She has performed on “A Prairie Home Companion,” been interviewed on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” sold thousands of CDs – five solos and five collaborations – and even has a songbook available of her original compositions.
A longtime resident of New England, where rocky coasts, tides and local birds inspired many of her compositions, Kallet moved to Bloomington two years ago for closer collaboration with renowned musician Grey Larsen. The two have been making music together for about six years.
Their packed spring touring schedule takes them across the country; she’s a headliner at the Chicago Maritime Festival in February, and she’ll teach at acoustic music camps this summer.
With a deep sense of place that permeates her compositions, Kallet says she’s growing more connected to south-central Indiana’s landscape and people, although she misses that rocky coast.
“I have always been attached to place and community,” Kallet said by telephone last week from Martha’s Vineyard, where she was between concerts, relaxing and working on tunes with Larsen.
“In any place, it takes time to get planted. … I am getting more attached to the place of the Midwest, and I keep looking for more places to explore. The fact that it’s not a coast, there’s no saltwater, and hardly any water at all – it can be hard.”
But her Midwest roots are taking hold.
“We took a little 8-foot dinghy into Lake Monroe in October with a plastic sail, rigged with a mast and boom, and it tipped over when I jumped off.”
Kallet is working on turning that experience into a ballad about Lake Monroe and its history, as well as a boating adventure. She called it “a song of place about my new home.”
Although she still feels ties to New England, she’s happy to be home in Bloomington, where she lives not far from downtown.
“I love to be able to walk and bike everywhere. I love Bloomington, where we can walk and bike to hear wonderful music. The hills are beautiful. It’s a beautiful part of the country. And the cranes! They sound like flying frogs!”
She said sandhill cranes flew over her house on their fall migration, something she hadn’t experienced in New England.
“That was great,” she reminisced.
Although Kallet is best known for her clear vocals and intricate guitar work, she has long had a silly side that shows up in songs such as, “I am a Mammal,” about nursing; and “Skunk Don’t Care.”
Her recent collaboration with Larsen, “Back When We Were All Machines,” is a light-hearted but pointed indictment of how technology can impede human relationships and foster isolation in the guise of social networks.
Kallet says she’s not against technology. She owns a mobile phone, sells her music on her website and on iTunes and has hundreds of Facebook friends.
“I hope the song will get people to notice what they’re doing and get connected in a real way. … People think that when you use (social networking) you’re connected.”
She noted that technology is sometimes abused: Parents neglect their kids to text or talk on the phone, and some people become so addicted to the technology they can’t handle not being connected.
“People text during concerts and movies, or if they turn it off, they have to turn it back on the split second they leave the theater.”
A teacher friend of hers had a student who committed suicide as the result of cyberbullying.
As the result of her song, “I hope people will stop one moment and think, or have a conversation with their partner or kids” about whether technology is helping or harming their relationships.
While Kallet and Larsen, both alone and together, are acoustic musicians, the video of “Back When We Were All Machines” adds a techno twist that’s new for them.
They’re working on a choral version of the song, too, and it’s part of their current tour set list.
“We get the audience to sing the chorus. Part do the melody, part the harmony, part the bass line. It is tempting to want to get all those other parts, too. … Some community choruses have already contacted us” hoping to perform the piece.
When at home, Kallet offers private guitar lessons.
“There are so many fine teachers and musicians in Bloomington, but teaching is one of the things I love to do most.”
She has four students and is looking for more.
“Publicity is not my strong suit,” she said.
Her strong suits include writing words and music that can move one to tears, cause belly laughs and hold up a mirror; turning a guitar into putty in her hands; playing Scandinavian fiddle duets; and singing melodies and harmonies with a voice clear and pure as a country morning.
“It’s an adventure of life and music to have moved to the Midwest, and a wonderful time to play music with one of my musical heroes, Grey Larsen, and to continue to figure out and explore these kinds of music, teach, meet new people, see new birds. It’s another stage in the adventure.”
On the Web
Watch Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen’s funny, yet provoking, video for “Back When We Were All Machines” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sbYR9xWQOA.
Kallet’s website is cindykallet.com.
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011
December 15, 2005
The Parents’ Choice Awards Committees, comprised of mothers, fathers, teachers, performing artists, librarians, and kids themselves, search out and recommend products that help kids grow – imaginatively, physically, morally and mentally.
Parents’ Choice Lynne Heffley writes:
Cindy Kallet, friends and family — young and old — contribute to this CD’s cozy warmth, as do the melodic, conversational songs inspired by Kallet’s past and present family life, and by sea chanteys and troubadour ballads of yesteryear. Kallet’s assured folksinger’s voice is as notable for its tonal beauty as for its pristine clarity; the lyrics — image-rich and silky-smooth, with a parents’-eye view — are colorful, humorous and evocative. A few highlights: “I’m a Mammal,” with a sly jab at those who have forgotten that we humans are indeed part of that biological category , “No/Don’t Wake Up,” a parental plea performed a capella; the bluesy “Diapers by Heart” (“I know how to change ’em and wash ’em and dry ’em”); and “Before I Was Two,” a five-year-old’s touching, country-flavored perspective of simpler times.
Kallet has five solo albums, two trio recordings with Ellen Epstein and Michael Cicone, and a duet album with Gordon Bok. In addition, her most recent publication was The Cindy Kallet Songbook, a collection of 32 original songs for guitar and voice. She is the mother of two sons, and when not traveling to perform throughout the country, hangs out with them, teaches guitar, works on her house, does occasional songwriting residencies in local schools, and volunteers with a local breastfeeding support group, the Camden Area La Leche League.
You may find out about the Parents’ Choice Foundation here,
- “She’s fantastic. I really like her guitar-playing, and her voice is mesmerizing. I find her music calming and inspiring all at the same time. Dreaming Down a Quiet Line is one of my favorite albums.” (Patty Larkin)
- “Excellent instrumentalist, and a voice that will give you the shivers.” (Gordon Bok)
- “When I was torn between folk music and opera (!), Cindy was one of the reasons I chose to pursue folk music. Her music is lyrical and honest and connects with an intimate space that only a powerful solo performer can reach.” (Dar Williams)
- “The first time I saw Cindy play and sing, I was instantly jealous, knowing I’d never be able to sound like that. I think she’s great, with a voice that’s a soothing clear instrument, lyrics that are pure poetry, and music that’s hypnotic and deep.” (Christine Lavin)
- Scott Alarik of The Boston Globe”…one of folk music’s most respected songwriters…a brilliant guitarist…”
- From Rich Warren (WFMT’s “Midnight Special,” “Folkstage”)”Cindy Kallet’s rare music moves me profoundly….Kallet, quite simply, casts a spell with her unpretentious, unproduced music. Her pleasant alto voice carries her unique songs through the intellect and straight to the heart.” [Sing Out! review, Vol. 45 No. 1]
- Cindy’s voice has a rich texture, poignant, dark, intimate: it’s a voice dreams are made of. Her guitar playing is deft and lovely . . . in the perfect clarity of the fingerpicking and the yummy harmonies in open modal tunings. JAM
- Her music has always struck me as powerful and bewitchingly lovely; . . . At this concert, she was in fine form and delivered a mixture of sea songs both her own and traditional, and her more contemplative, personal compositions, all of which were enthusiastically received by the audience. I could have listened to a lot more of Cindy Kallet, quite happily. Alison Friedman
- Occasionally a concert will exceed high expectations and add dimensions to your appreciation of a performer – – the February 24th Cindy Kallet concert was one of those . . . Her utter sincerity, humility, and the delivery of her astonishing songs, not to mention her skilful singing and guitar arrangements, make her one of the delights of the current folk circuit. Champlain Folklore Co-operative Newsletter, April 1984
- . . . one of folk music’s most respected songwriters . . . a brilliant guitarist . . . Scott Alarik, Boston Globe
- Listening to you is like lying on your back while someone feeds you grapes. Judith Stone
- . . . the significant aspects of her work are constant: the intelligence that informs the writing and composing, the skill and feeling in the instrumental work, and especially, that warm and expressive voice. Susan Forbes Hansen, WFCR, Amherst, MA and WHUS, Storrs, CT
Working on Wings to Fly (Folk-Legacy Records FSI-83, 1981)
- . . . clear singing, honest, well-crafted lyrics and gifted guitar playing . . . She has a special gift for creating melodies that perfectly match the moods of a lyric . . . Joseph B. White, Vineyard Gazette
- Her first album captures very well the essence of a Kallet performance: moving lyrics, tasteful guitar accompaniment, and a rich, haunting voice . . . This is a beautiful, simple album . . . Don Drake, Come for to Sing
Cindy Kallet 2 (Folk-Legacy Records FSI-98, 1983)
- The long-awaited follow-up to . . . Working on Wings to Fly confirms the impressions of that first LP. Here are songs of extraordinary beauty and subtlety, performed with conviction by a vocalist and guitarist of considerable skill . . . A quiet masterpiece. WOMR-FM, Provincetown, MA
- Ascoltatelo non solo con le orecchie, ma anche e supra tutto con cuore! (Listen not only with your ears, but also and above all with your heart!) Mauro Quai
Dreaming Down a Quiet Line (Stone’s Throw Music STM-1, 1989)
- This is that rarest of releases for a singer-songwriter: 15 gorgeously-crafted songs and every one is a winner. Kallet mixes moods with extraordinary grace; at one moment she’s wistful and mysterious, the next giddy and light-hearted. There is also a fine sampling of overtly political material, though Kallet the songwriter never hits us over the head with her concerns. Instead, she personalizes issues to show us individuals adrift in a frightening world. She connects seemingly random events and ties them together in ways that few this side of Joni Mitchell are capable. Who else would link fear of losing a loved one, the bombing of Libya, and a lost Arctic explorer? Rob Weir, The Hartford Advocate, January 3, 1991