Leonard Cohen and His Women
"The close presence of the woman", Leonard Cohen, singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, unflinching sage and celebrated ladies man has said, was always "a very important element. The presence of the female voice allows my voice to speak more clearly - and I've needed to hear them." Women who have sung and toured with him join the session, moderated by the author of I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, which Rolling Stone said made every prior biography "practically unnecessary".
Sylvie Simmons is an award-winning writer on rock music and the author of fiction and non-fiction books. Her latest, I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen (Ecco), a NY Times bestseller, was named best biography of 2012 by NPR. Born in London, she lives in San Francisco, where she writes for MOJO and plays ukulele.
Grammy nominated vocalist, songwriter, composer, and arranger Perla Batalla was born in Los Angeles, CA. She first gained international attention as a backing singer for Leonard Cohen who later encouraged Perla to embark on a solo career. Perla was signed by Jac Holzman to her self-titled debut on the Warner/Discovery label in 1994. The critics loved it, calling her singing "sublime" and her talent "stunning". Like many original artists today, Perla opted to go independent early on, releasing her second album, Mestiza in 1998. An immediate favorite on Public Radio shows throughout the U.S. Mestiza was selected as Best Independent Release of the Year by Amazon.com. Heaven and Earth followed in 2000, along with a nod to Perla as Amazon's Emerging Artist of the Year. Mestiza and Heaven and Earth, both co-written with David Batteau,offer a vision of a resplendent culture born from the explosive marriage of separate worlds – a vibrant culture still nourished and inhabited by mysticism, imagery, magic and myth.
In 2004 Perla was invited by The Kennedy Center to perform as an artist in residence.
Perla's 2005 tribute to Leonard Cohen entitled Bird on the Wire features a Who's Who list of celebrated and world class musicians, including David Hidalgo (of Los Lobos), Bill Gable, Vinnie Coliauta and Greg Leisz, to name a few. The album has been embraced with open arms by the Cohen loving public at large and critics alike. As Sing Out magazine's Michael Tearson wrote: "Beautifully conceived and executed, Bird on the Wire is a rewarding listening experience I find myself returning to frequently. It is every bit the equal of Jennifer Warnes' classic Cohen tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat. For those uninitiated to the glories of the songs of Leonard Cohen this is a wonderful introduction. For the rest of us it is simply heavenly". In celebration of its release, Perla produced a sold-out concert at UCLA's Royce Hall with special guests Michael Mc Donald, Jackson Browne, Bill Frisell, Don Was, Martha Gonzalez of Quetzal, Howard Tate, and Julie Christensen.
As a well-respected interpreter of Leonard Cohen's music, Batalla has found herself co-starring in Cohen inspired concert series throughout North America, Australia and Europe in venues as diverse as The Sydney Opera House, The Brighton Dome, and Spain's 12th century Lorcan castle, "Fortress of the Sun". In 2006, Perla's concert film appearances in Hal Wilner's I'm Your Man featured her in a cast that included Julie Christensen, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, The Handsome Family, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Antony, Teddy and Linda Thompson and Jarvis Cocker. Spain's 2007 concert and film Acordes con Leonard Cohen had Perla sharing the stage in Barcelona with Jackson Browne, John Cale, Javier Mas, Ducende and Toti Soler.
Perla received a commission by Los Angeles County Museum of Art to compose and perform an original composition to commemorate the opening of LACMA’s exhibit, “In Wonderland: The Adventures of Women Surrealists in Mexico and the U.S.”.
Perla and songwriting partner, David Batteau premiered the first of the songs in the spring of 2012 featuring The Eclipse String Quartet, Van Dyke Parks, John Beasley and Pete' Korpela.
What had at first been a one-time commissioned piece began to take a life of its own. "Blue House" evolved into a full length theatrical concert inspired by the journals, frescos and canvasses of two of the greatest Mexican painters of the twentieth century, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. The show is a fearless glimpse into the unrestrained passion of the creative spirit framed by an epic love affair charged with ego, devotion, betrayal and genius.
It is most of all, a love letter to art itself.
JULIE CHRISTENSEN has honed her Americana, chameleon craft singing in well over a hundred shows, worldwide, with Leonard Cohen. She's also sung with Lou Reed, Van Dyke Parks, Steve Wynn, John Doe and Exene Cervenka. With Chris D., she headed up the post-punk rock band Divine Horsemen. Others utilizing Julie's kaleidoscope talents are as far-flung as Iggy Pop, PiL, Robben Ford and k.d. lang. Her widely praised, independent Stone Cupid (label) albums are a soulful hybrid of jazz and folk.
Now, "WEEDS LIKE US" candidly reveals a cathartic journey of loss and survival (released Nov. 20 on the Household Ink label).
From the Ventura County Reporter (a southern California alternative-weekly staple), music editor Michel Miller reports:
"You don’t earn a pedigree like Julie Christensen’s without a high level of authenticity… Christensen manages to convey the beauty of suffering with a subtlety that cannot be faked. It’s a quality that less-seasoned vocalists could and should learn from. WEEDS LIKE US opens with… an infectious R&B-flavored number that showcases Christensen’s range — then moves into more introspective territory… The album’s 12 songs… repeat this pattern of trading lighthearted grit with poignant confessional, much in the rhythm of a life well lived. The bonus track, “Another One,” is particularly emotional… Christensen’s career fits pretty squarely in the folk-Americana category, where a handful of other ’80s L.A. punk rock alumni also comfortably landed. Probably best known for her work with Leonard Cohen, Christensen has earned a reputation for her vocal versatility. She is indeed a force to be reckoned with and this is a record worthy of your full attention..."
“There is searing resolve in these songs..." (Bentley’s Bandstand)
“WEEDS LIKE US... crackles and burns under the glow of Julie's vocals..." (The Alternate Root)
WEEDS LIKE US is available at iTunes, Amazon, and Julie’s web home: www.stonecupid.com