ĎFortune's Bravest Loveí
Critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter, Courtney Fortune releases her debut CD ďSpeak LoveĒ on Origin Records. The album, produced by Grammy-nominated artist Chris Walden, features the rich tones of Fortuneís voice and several songs written by the singer.
The tracks are a combination of genres, fusing jazz, pop and folk to create a unique sound. The music revitalizes and inspires loyal jazz patrons and gives depth to the current state of the pop genre.
At just 21 years old, Fortune has already performed with industry luminaries. She has performed alongside Garrison Keillor (ďA Prairie Home CompanionĒ) and received an award for outstanding musical achievement at USCís 2008 Dickens Dinner, where the USC student performed for legendary hitmakers Brian Wilson and Lamont Dozier.
Exclusive Magazine recently sat down with Courtney and discussed the exciting debut album, her affiliation with Chris Walden, and, of course, ... her thoughts on Penguins!
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your music today? "I have always been drawn to jazz, even when I was little, I felt a connection with the kind of romantic, wild, tongue-in-cheek but passionate stories that play out in those old songs. I was addicted to collecting old recordings and digging up obscure tunes. But I also listened to a lot of rock and pop records growing up, these more modern influences have always fused together with my love-sick attachment to torch songs."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your upcoming debut album ĎSpeak Loveí, how would you yourself describe your sound? "Iím more of a crossover artist, I fall somewhere between an older jazz era and modern day Ė because Iím jazz singer and a pop songwriter, Iím always exploring the ways that vintage and modern love songs collide. I like to think it sounds like Peggy Lee sitting at a cafť on Sunset Blv. and listening to her iPod Shuffle."
'Speak Loveí was arranged and produced by four-time Grammy-nominee Chris Walden. How did that collaboration come together and what were some of the highlights working with Chris? "I met Chris about a year after I moved to LA. It was a chance meeting at an Oscar Nomination Party, Chris and I just started talking about jazz and immediately connected. Soon he had hired me to write some lyrics and I was rehearsing to sing for his big band. Once Chris and I started working together he approached me about producing my debut album. His vision was to combine jazz with elements of my modern influences and our different songwriting styles, which to me sounded perfect. The opportunity to work with Chris both collaboratively and creatively is truly amazing."
I really enjoyed ĎLost in the Memoryí for its upbeat tempo and smooth transitions. What song are you most proud of on your album and how does it feel to be able to share it with your audience? "ďLost in the MemoryĒ is exciting because itís a song Chris and I wrote together while I was in London and after he found out my obsession with Django Jazz. But Iím most proud of actually finishing my song ďIíll Keep WaitingĒ, itís an incredibly honest song and one that I mulled over for a long time. When we decided to record it I hadnít considered being that vulnerable on my first record, but sometimes the songs choose when they want to come out, itís what I needed to write at the time. We kept my original vocal tracking on the album because even though at times you can hear me getting dark, emotional Ė itís important for me to be who I am, I canít fool my listeners."
At 21 years old, you have a mature presence mixed with cheerful innocence in your music and song writing. What do you attribute for having such rich context in your songs? "I am constantly changing and improvising, but I also have a solid idea of who I am at the core. Iím not interested in writing and performing music I donít feel or identify with completely. My original songs are all true stories, itís a waste of time to create art that you donít connect with word for word. My love songs arenít deeply complicated but I always know who Iím writing about. My naivety comes from knowing that still I know nothing."
Indeed, how easy (or hard) is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both built on Jazz and Pop elements then surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded them within the industry? "Iím young and pretty green in this industry, but I know Iím happiest when Iím performing my songs and staying true to my jazz and pop roots. It only gets challenging when people want one or the other. But thatís why I love my fan base, my shows are always an exciting mix of older jazz loyals and younger crowds. Which is why I think todayís music fans are looking for a sophisticated and transformative sound more than ever. I used to hear that jazz music is fading and pop music is silly or stupid, I donít believe in either."
Iíve read youíre currently attending the University of Southern California where you were awarded an outstanding musical achievement by the school and Glamour Magazine named you one of ďTop 10 College Women of 2009.Ē What are you studying and how are you able juggle both your studies and your career? "Iím a Music Industry major which is definitely preparing me to be smart contender in this business. I love being a student at SC, having that community, going to football games, but I also have to balance that time with my career. Itís give and take and I feel like Iím running around, morphing from student to artist 24/7 but I wouldnít change a thing (well maybe Iíd like a couple more hours in the day). The truth is this is what Iíve wanted all along, I havenít had to give up my education for my career and certainly not my career for college. My teachers, mentors and friends at USC are my support system in all my endeavors."
Your press release points out that you actively volunteer at the Peapod Music and Arts Academy, which gives foster teens living in South Central a music education. What it been like working with the kids and how important is it to you to give back to community? "As a kid I was given so many opportunities to succeed and learn through music that working with Peapod, as well as my other advocacy projects, gives my experience as an artist meaning. I want to be like those who encouraged me so early on. These students are so talented and so driven itís fun to be a part of their growth!"
When youíre not studying, writing, performing, volunteering, etcÖwhat do you like to do for fun and relaxation? "When Iím not on the run I love going out with my friends and being in the audience at their concerts. Iím into crime shows, Yang Chows and The Getty. Iím also looking forward to attending LA Fashion Week, my other love is fashion and design."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today ... and why?! "Oh I love Debbie Harry, ďHeart of GlassĒ by Blondie, thatís such a great song by a cool, strong blonde."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Yes, I love a man in a tuxedo!"
To learn more about CourtneyFortuneís music, check out her personal website and Myspace page.
Interview: Ken Tebo
So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of Courtney's new CD, just answer this easy question: For ďSpeak Love,Ē Fortune collaborated with four-time Grammy-nominated composer/arranger Chris Walden. Please name the two (2) most RECENT Grammy's he was nominated for and in which years?
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful new CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: COURTNEY FORTUNE SIGNED CDs to: email@example.com
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