The Seasonal Sounds of Raison D'Etre
While visiting the Frontier Christmas in Old Washington this weekend, I was pleased to see the return of the women's trio Raison D'Etre, a three part harmony consisting of Violet Rae Downey, Vickie Ellis, and Roberta Schultz, who walk the street singing old-time Christmas Carols. Last year (or the year before) I bought their CD when I heard them sing and they've still got the gift of bringing holiday warmth with their music. I encourage everyone to check them out at their web site: www.raison3.com, especially if you enjoy classic Christmas music.
From their bio:
Violet Rae Downey, Vickie Ellis, and Roberta Schultz are three women from Northern Kentucky who live to sing together. A background in musical theater drives Violet's dramatic sense of song and fuels her incredible range. Vickie combines classical piano training, communications experience in radio and theater, and interest in folk instruments to add spice to arrangements and homey chat to performances. Roberta contributes finger-picking guitar styles, metaphysical song writing and Native drums(including a few that she made) to Raison D'Etre's unique mix.
Close three-part harmonies define Raison D'Etre's style. In a typical performance, the women offer their own compositions about connection, a sense of place, and bearing witness as well as carefully selected covers from Mark Weierman, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Jesse Winchester. Traditional folk songs, a capella swing tunes, and Shaker hymns round out their versatile repertoire.
Juried performers in Kentucky Arts Council's PERFORMING ARTS DIRECTORY, the trio has appeared at key venues in their home state including SINGLETARY CENTER FOR THE ARTS in Lexington, GLEMA MAHR CENTER FOR THE ARTS in Madisonville, LEEDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS in Winchester, and KENTUCKY CENTER FOR THE ARTS in Louisville.
Raison D'Etre hosts the popular COFFEE CUP CONCERT SERIES in Northern Kentucky's Behringer-Crawford Museum, Covington. While showcasing the diverse blend of folk, acoustic, jazz and singer songwriter musical heritage of the Ohio Valley Region, the series has also featured such national headliners as Christine Lavin and Bill Miller.
Raison D'Etre showcased at Ohio Arts Presenters Network in Newark, OH in 2003 and 2005 and did a Tricentric Showcase at North East Region Folk Alliance in Monticello, NY in 2004. Three of their songs were recognized(two semi-finalists, one honorable mention) at the 2003 MOVA Songwriting Competition and Arts Festival in Lake Guntersville, AL. Three of their songs were semi-finalists in the 2005 Competition, with Violet's song "I've Got the Heart" making it to the finals. Violet and Roberta received "Judge's Choice Awards" for two of their 2005 entries, "I've Got the Heart" and "Broken Radio."
They were selected as Folk and Bluegrass Showcase alternates for the Performing Arts Exchange 2005 in Memphis, TN and are recipients of the Southern Arts Award from Southern Arts Federation's Southernartistry.org.
The trio holds membership in Folk Alliance and Ohio Arts Presenters Network.