Courtney Fortune Gets Interviewed

Courtney Fortune was able to briefly talk to me about how music has affected her along with discussing her latest albums and what awaits her on the horizon for the remainder 2009 year into the New Year come 2010.

1. What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?

Courtney: My style is a mixture of jazz and pop, I grew up listening to jazz staples like Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone, Bill Evans and Stan Getz - but I also live and breath what’s happening in music today, I love Radiohead, Neko Case, Rachael Yamagata, Shugo Tokumaru. I think everything I’m into infuses vintage and modern elements.

2. How long have you known Chris Walden? How did you meet?

Courtney: I met Chris about a year after I moved to LA. I was doing demo work for a local songwriter who brought me along to 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.

3. When did you unite with the Chris Walden Big Band? What inspired you to make music together?

Courtney: I’ve always dreamed of singing with a big band, especially one as incredible as Chris Walden’s. When I perform with them I feel completely consumed by sound, it’s an amazing feeling. Shortly after 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. The opportunity to work with Chris both collaboratively and creatively is truly amazing.

4. Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations?

Courtney: Yes, I’ve recently signed with Origin Records (Origin was named JazzWeek’s “Label of the Year” congrats guys!)

5. What can you tell me about your instruments?† Do you play guitar, or was it used as a prop in your music video? (Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever ís available? What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference?)

Courtney: I write all my songs on guitar and piano but when I perform I’m with my full band. I love working with different musicians, the more sound I have on stage with me, the better.

6. Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?

Courtney: I grew up in Seattle ’s jazz circuit, playing club gigs and bars long before I was supposed to – but that’s where I learned how to be a performer and work with bands. I’ve played shows throughout Japan – some of my favorite memories are from the time I spent at The Kobe Jazz Festival and the people I met while singing in Tokyo. Also, I was recently in London doing more shows, another place I’m crazy about. My “Speak Love” album release party is going to be at the Catalina Bar & Grill on September 22, which will be a great time and is open to everyone. You can also catch my shows and my residency at Room 5 Lounge in Los Angeles!

7. Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?

Courtney: I’m happiest when I'm playing my own music - there’s just something about performing something you’ve written, it speaks to you differently. But I love covers, other than my passion for old torch music I’ve always been interested in taking my favorite rock songs and doing jazz arrangements of them. It started when I was sixteen, I recorded a version of Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova” with a jazz group including the late Larry Knechtal. On my album the first track is a cover of “Care of Cell 44” by The Zombies, I’m a huge fan of them.

8. What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

Courtney: There is nothing better than working with other musicians, being in a band and playing music – it’s one of those things that is worth working like crazy for.

9. Anything else you'd like to add?

Courtney: My album “Speak Love” is out on Origin Records, thank you and hope to see you at our shows!

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