Claudia Schmidt is a wise woman. And she’s also one helluva musician and entertainer. You name it, Claudia’s done it. The scope of Claudia’s talent is pretty far-reaching. Her solid Mid-West background and healthy thirst for adventure helped her dive right into the world of the performing arts. Claudia is an absolute gem since she’s able to dip in and out of musical genres in such a natural and convincing manner.
To learn more about Claudia Schmidt, visit her website.
Here’s a taste of Claudia in action.
According to your bio, your first performance at age 4 was that of “Tammy” at a neighborhood party. Do you recall if you were eager or reticent to perform in front of others at that young age? Looking back, did you feel the power of performance then and then again as you pursued the arts?
Never had a concept of stage fright! The stage has always been my natural habitat.
You’ve had a storied history of playing at some amazing places in front of lots of music-loving people. What led you to folk music? Did you come from a musical family?
My parents loved music and we sang in the car on long drives, etc..I was the one who had the passion. Folk/schmolk, call it what you want, it was what you could do alone with an instrument, so there I went!
You speak very fondly about the early days in the Chicago scene. Is that where you came into your own and discovered that melding musical genres together worked?
I stumbled into. Chicago in the early 70s and the ascendancy of the singer-songwriter scene there. It just evolved organically, very welcoming!
Tell us about your work in theatre. I’m especially interested in hearing about the 1992 Chicago production of Brecht’s “A Good Person of Szechuan.” Brecht is an often misunderstood playwright. What did you learn about theatre and about yourself through this experience?
I ran away with a theater group right after high school, so laid down that good bed of stagecraft I was able to employ in musical performing. The chance Frank Galati (director of “Good Person of Szechuan” at Goodman Theater in 1992,for which I won a Jefferson Award for Best Original Score) gave me to do this work was a gift from heaven! I had carts Blanche to put new music to the Brecht lyrics. Collaborating with a dead guy is a breeze!
What was it like worked with famed documentarian, Les Blank?
Les Blank was inscrutable..and a lovely human being. I am so grateful our paths crossed for the Gap-Toothed Women project.
Of all the musicians whom you have had the opportunity to play with, do you have any special memories you’d like to share?
Bob Gibson had a big effect on me, kind of a mentor when I was a baby performer in Chicago, his graciousness on stage and generosity as a performer. He really made room for me!
In addition to playing music, you’re also known for your spoken word pieces. What makes for a good spoken word piece? What do you hope the audience will get from each piece you perform?
Spoken word is just another way to reach people, and when mixed in with the songs is extra powerful. You find the rhythm of the piece, in the language rather than the melody..and you’re off and running!
Your latest new album is called Concinnity. Tell us about the meaning of the word and how this album came about. It’s a pretty special story.
Concinnity means a ‘perfect harmony of the constituent parts of any given thing’. It describes this project perfectly
What are the most profound changes in the music business since you’ve been involved with it? For starters, I see that you have gone the route of thumb drives for your fans’ music listening pleasure.
Everything is changing all the time, including the music business..except for the pay scale!