Folk festival regular singing for students

Laura Lucas

Laura Lucas

“Ellis’s voice is powerful, beautiful, intimidating and charming? mixed in with the songs’ acoustic guitar driven music, sung with the passion that Ani Difranco and Suzanne Vega once exuded?” said Celeste Tabora of Pulse of the Twin Cities.

“I saw her at the NACA conference that University Program Council went on, and she was fantastic. I wanted to book her right away,” said junior broadcast journalism major Brady Mallory, who is showcase coordinator for the University Program Council.

Ellis’s music is described as folk rock/indie/acoustic, according to her Myspace Web site.

According to her Web site, at age 16, singer and songwriter Ellis preformed her own songs at open mics after moving to Minneapolis, Minn. She joined a rock band in high school while also setting up her own record label, Rubberneck Records. In 1996, she put out her first solo CD titled Soft Day, which features what the Web site calls, “a wonderful blend of youthful optimism mixed with thoughtful reflection.”

Her second CD, Blueprints Live, was recorded at two different concerts in Northfield and Minneapolis. Everything That’s Real, her third CD, was named one of the Top Ten Indie Releases of 2001 by Music Connection Magazine. According to her Web site, she wanted to do something different with her third album, so she produced the record on her own and stuck with a pure analog format (no digital editing).

Her fourth CD, Tigers Above, Tigers Below, was released in 2003. Ellis recorded in a “shotgun house-turned-studio in New Orleans.” It is also, according to her Web site, “by far Ellis’s best studio work to date.”

Evidence of Joy, her 2004 CD, was recorded live at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theatre in Minneapolis. She had produced the recording with the help of eight fans who won a “In the Producer’s Chair” contest.

Her latest CD, Break the Spell, is scheduled to be available in stores Feb. 5, which is also when she will be performing in Jack’s Place in the Student Union at 8 p.m. During the recording of this album, Ellis asked herself, “How can I deliver these songs in the clearest, most undefended way, embracing the joys, sorrows and doubts with confidence and also with a tender approach?” her Web site said.

Ellis said, “I had the intention to embrace these songs and my own heart in a way that was focused on the effects on the listener. We kept asking ‘Does it move us emotionally?'” They tried not to make decisions based on what sounded “cool,” she said.

Among her achievements, she was the headliner at the 2005 Northland Folk Festival and the 2006 National Women’s Music Festival. In 2007, she also was a main-stage performer at the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival and the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. In 2006 and 2007, Ellis won Best Musical Artist by Minnesota Women’s Press. She has also independently sold more than 30,000 copies of her five CDs.