Marca Cassity

 

No Depression review of Marca Cassity "Songs from the Well" by Frank Gutch Jr.

Side One: Track One (if CDs had sides, anyway): “Hallelujah.” My knee-jerk reaction: Oh, no! Not again! Which upon hearing the song told me that I need to have my inner knee worked on. After calming down and realizing that this was, indeed, not yet another lame cover of the Leonard Cohen-penned song but another song entirely, I laid back to listen to Marca Cassity and by the end of her song of the same title, was not just ready but anxious for what was to follow, for her “Hallelujah” is slightly upbeat, seemingly spiritual, and quite infectious. There seemed to be more than a hint of Native American influence, though what I have heard (beyond rock band Redbone) is limited enough that I question myself. But it was there. The beat. The feel. The simulated chant in the background. Whatever it was, it made me listen closer to what followed.

And what followed convinced me that Marca Cassity is hardly a one trick pony. Besides the fact that she is obviously a songwriter with whom to be reckoned, she writes to the song rather than the genre. Each song surrounds an idea or emotion. Each lives in its own world. And yet taken together, they paint a picture of Cassity's world.   

And it is a positive one. “Root,” for instance, cries out for women to embrace individuality. “Bells” honors her Native American heritage (she grew up on a reservation in Oklahoma--- she is Osage). “Hallelujah,” a nod to the power of that which is (the sustaining chord of the organ/keyboard in the background not only supports the spiritual feel but is mesmerizing, as well). “Goodbye” flashes back to modern folk in a Judy Collins kind of way, the message all Cassity. “Raven” uses a choogling beat to excellent effect (the arrangement, especially the vocals, are impressive as well).

The real ear-catcher for me is the soulful “Disasters,” a song which could easily have come from the heydays of Stax and a ballad of the first water. Again, arrangement takes the song over the top, the music beautiful but simple, the vocal arrangement fitting for Cassity's tenor/alto tones. If I had the time, I could easily loop this for an entire afternoon or evening and never tire of it.

I'm going to step out on a limb here and credit producer Julie Wolf for her influence. I am not sure exactly what she did or didn't do but whatever it was I am impressed. Wolf has worked with a number of successful (and probably less than successful) artists and I am sure learned a hell of a lot during her journey. She puts it to good use on Songs From the Well. Very good use.

Curve Magazine Review

Marca Cassity brings us "Songs From The Well"

Steeped in heritage Marca Cassity brings us an album full of powerful spirit folk songs.

 

Marca Cassity has been busy, she has released the great folk song “How to Love”, which Marca says honours “the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and the amazing sisters and womyn who gave me so much love and healing there this year!” She has also given us her fourth studio album, Songs From The Well and it oozes spirituality and soul.  

 

“How to Love” is recorded with her friend and producer Julie Wolf from the Indigo Girls fame and the influence that Wolf brings to this track is evident. However Marca has her own sound and she shines in this track as her vocals carry proudly over the acoustic guitar declaring, “oh sisters/we know how to love”. 

 

“Hallelujah” is the first track off Songs From The Well and it’s full of tribal themes in the instrumentals. “Free” breaks from the tribal feel of its predecessor and lifts into an upbeat folk tune, which is underpinned by a tight guitar and percussion line. 

 

Thick with funk and blues, “Burn” features cool beats and Marca croons through the versus into the chorus with ease. 

 

It’s the guitar riffs in the introduction to “Goodbye” that distinctly remind me of Ani Difranco’s early work.  As the song traverses through the bars we are introduced to a piano line that has the effect of creating a dreamy ballad all whilst Marca laments love. Hitting the mid-point of the album we also get to the standout track “Raven”.  Staying true to her Osage Indian ancestry and heritage Marca makes a connection with the listener that is spiritual.

 

This is an album that takes you on a journey seeped in earthy tones and Marca’s voice is warm and inviting. You can’t help but be drawn to it with its smoothness and her infectious folk lilt. Again produced by Julie Wolf (Indigo Girls) this influence is evident throughout the album. Honored by the Osage Nation with a tribal artist grant and supported by fans through an Indiegogo campaign, Marca has brought us a powerful album full of folk spirit songs.

Songs from the Well’ - Marca Cassity - mileposts on journeys, moments of learning and wisdom-forging encounters

 


There’s tangible spirit running through ‘Songs from the Well’ by Marca Cassity, a deep earthy feel that echoes roads travelled and times shared. Engendered by a combination of her Osage IndianMarcaCassitySongs From The Well ancestry and heritage, the songs relate tales marking mileposts on journeys, moments of learning and wisdom-forging encounters. Marca states: The songs are inspired by my fascination of how we as people overcome hardship, and find resilience in our creative, powerful, and beautiful ways.” And to be honest, those are better words than I could write to describe what you hear on ‘Songs from the Well’.

It’s not hard to feel Marca’s enduring love and respect for life-force flowing through every track, with a roots-inspired folk rock style that makes her songs enduringly attractive. Clearly, it’s taken time, endurance and a certain inner-strength to articulate these stories. Told with no holding back on expression, no fear to say what has to be said and no hint of compromise. Listen to the opener, ‘Hallelujah’ laid across a moody pulsing rhythm and meditate on its hope for the future, take in the penetrating edge of ‘Free’ with haunting backing vocals, and bathe your ears in revelation-filled emotionwith ‘Disasters’. Throughout ‘Songs from the Well’ Marca uses the full depth of her voice to build the strength of her songs - ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Raven’ show the power, while mellower ‘Tree’ and ‘Declaring’ expose a more pensive edge.

Musicians on ‘Songs from the Well’ are: Marca Cassity (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, backing vocals) Adam Levy (acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals) Dawn Richardson (drums, percussion) Paul Olguin (bass) and Julie Wolf (Hammond B3, Rhodes, piano, wurlitzer, accordion, backing vocals) with Michaelle Goerlitz (tambourine, shakers, tan tan, triangle, cymbals, shekere) Green Huse and Rachel Garlin (backing vocals) plus Cici Kinsman and Ellen Cassity (hand claps) James Gregory and Tavish Kelly (dance bells).

Reviewer: Tom Franks

 Song of the Day

#580 Marca Cassity – Bells

Inspired by and featuring the traditional dance bells of Osage dancers, ‘Bells’ has more claim to the name ‘folk’ than most tracks we feature. Cassity was herself raised on the Osage reservation and her album Songs From The Well was part funded by the Osage Nation Foundation. Full of heart and melody, it’s hard to imagine a track that could better celebrate her heritage.

Osage musician Marca Cassity holding CD release parties for her new album

Cassity will hold an April 16 free acoustic solo performance at the Osage Tribal Museum
Marca Cassity speaks to the Northern California Osage group on March 15 in Oakland, Calif.
Benny Polacca/Osage News

Osage musician Marca Cassity is holding a CD release party for her new folk rock music album recorded with the help from online donations and a matching grant from the Osage Nation Foundation.

On April 16 at 11 a.m., Cassity will offer a free acoustic solo performance of her new album “Songs from the Well” at the Osage Tribal Museum in Pawhuska. According to a news release, Cassity’s album features 11 folk rock spirit songs “that speak to overcoming hardship through resilience in connection to nature, humor, love, compassion, spirituality and heritage.”

The ON Foundation awarded Cassity, an Oakland, Calif. resident, a matching grant last fall and Cassity sought online donations as she promoted her recording project to pay for the recording sessions at Fantasy Studios in nearby Berkeley. Cassity met her goal and raised over $20,000 earlier this year.

Cassity, a granddaughter of former Osage Nation Congressman Mark Freeman, said “this theme of appreciation of heritage is a very important topic to me as his granddaughter and also as an artist. This is something I also aspire to do – is to call people more strongly to their heritage and I feel when I express myself as a musician, which is one of the ways I express myself, that I’m being a responsible Osage and I believe art is very important.”

On March 15, Cassity shared a brief presentation on her recording project at the Northern California Osage spring gathering in Oakland. She said her album is near completion with one more day of studio mixing needed.

Featured on the album are guitarist Adam Levy (Tracy Chapman, Norah Jones), Julie Wolf ( Indigo Girls, Carly Simon), and bass player of Osage heritage Paul Olguin (Mazzy Starr), according to the news release. The cover art of the album is by Osage photographer Teresa Meade.

Cassity, a Ponca City High School and University of Oklahoma graduate, said she is planning to relocate back to Oklahoma where she plans to share more of her music with Indian Country. When she’s not playing music or singing, Cassity works as a therapist and holds a nursing degree.

When Cassity moved to Northern California 10 years ago, she met several Osages and other Native Americans living in the Bay Area. One theme she noticed in meeting others is “a deep desire for belonging,” which is part of her inspiration for making music.

“Being a therapist, I really have learned about working with historical trauma in Native American people, assimilation, genocide,” Cassity said. “In working with trauma and historical trauma, there’s a deep desire for belonging and to me it’s one of the deepest psychological needs that we have as humans… When you’re displaced by the powers that be and constantly having to fight for your rights to exist, it causes a lot of stress and that stress can turn family members against each other.”

“This is a time when families must reach for resilience and find their strengths and gifts and talents and find a way to get along, I think this is true for our Osage families as well,” Cassity said. “The theme of my new album is all of this rolls into my arts, my expression is overcoming hardship and finding resilience in healing through nature, love, humor, compassion, strength and heritage.”

During the NCO event, Cassity played a recording of one of the album songs titled “Bells.” The song features use of contemporary musical instruments as well as usage of Osage dance bells worn by NCO steering committee member James Gregory and Tavish Kelley, son of NCO steering committee member Nanette Kelley.

“I had the idea of bringing Osage dance bells to the song because I believe the sound of the bells and the drum and In-Lon-Schka are healing and powerful,” Cassity said.

In reaching out to the Osage public, Cassity said she plans to release 200 downloadable copies of “Songs from the Well” to the first 200 Osages who contact her “at a date to be announced” during this spring.

According to the ON Foundation, Cassity was awarded a matching grant in October 2013 for a maximum of $17,375 with the funding to assist in the recording and distribution of the album. Cassity created an indiegogo.com website page to promote her album and to collect matching grant donations from the public. On Jan. 11, Cassity’s online fundraiser ended with $20,050 raised by online supporters.

Cassity said a CD release party is also planned for the Bay Area on April 26 at the Subterranean Arthouse in Berkeley. For more information on this event, visit the venue website at www.subterraneanarthouse.org.

For more information, Marca Cassity’s website is: www.marcacassity.com.

California Osage recording a folk rock album thanks to ON Foundation grant

 

Marca Cassity holds online fundraiser to match grant award and raised $20K to help record her upcoming album
Article | Thu, 2014-01-30 08:38 | By Benny Polacca
Osage musician Marca Cassity performs at the Nov. 2 Northern California Osage meeting in Oakland. Cassity is an Osage Nation Foundation grant recipient who plans to use the funding to record a folk rock music album titled Songs from the Well.
Photo by Benny Polacca/Osage News

Marca Cassity, an Osage musician living in the Bay Area, is pursuing her dream of recording a studio album of original folk rock songs written by her.

Now in the works is an album titled Songs from the Well.

“The songs are inspired by my fascination of how we as people overcome hardship, and find resilience in our creative, powerful, and beautiful ways,” Cassity said of her album on the website indiegogo.com. “I grew up in rural Oklahoma where I first found my love of spirit and music, and have traveled around the world studying with traditional people, spiritual teachers and musicians from lots of amazing places. My roots and my journeys brought me to write Songs from the Well for upliftment and healing for myself and others.”

Today Cassity lives in Oakland, Calif., and works in trauma counseling for the Alameda County Crisis Support Services. She is a Ponca City High School graduate and earned her nursing degree from the University of Oklahoma. Her grandfather is former Osage Nation Congressman Mark Freeman.

Cassity created the indiegogo.com profile page to showcase her album project and also to seek monetary donations to help her finance the album recording with a professional music producer. She is also receiving help from the Osage Nation Foundation in the form of a matching grant.

In fall 2013, Cassity received an Osage Nation Foundation matching grant to help fund her album production and recording. She met with Foundation officials, spoke about her music endeavors and performed songs for them before getting the green light on her funding request.

Bill Webb, the ON Foundation executive director, said Cassity was awarded the grant in October for a maximum of $17,375 with the funding to assist in the recording and distribution of the album.

On Jan. 11, Cassity’s online fundraiser ended with success. She raised $20,050 at that time, but her indiegogo.com page is still active for people to view her biography and videos.

In one video posted to indiegogo.com, Cassity also recalled a personal event when a family member suffered a drug overdose and remained unconscious in the hospital. The outcome also motivated her to pursue the album project.

“Things were not good,” Cassity said. “So I went and visited her and I said to her: ‘well, you can either go on to the next world and be my angel or you can stay here … either one, it’s your choice.’ And so when she woke up out of the coma, she’s doing well now in her life, she said that she had a vision when she was sick. The vision was that she had gone down to a wellhouse, which is on my parents’ land where I grew up … And in the wellhouse she found a box of songs … She didn’t know what to do with them, so she got a call from John Lennon in the dream, in the vision, and he told her to tell me to record them”

“Wherever that story came from, it doesn’t really matter to me, just in love and paying homage to my family and their great resilience and humor and creativity, I’m calling this album Songs from the Well.”

Cassity said she plans to make the album at Fantasy Studios with seasoned music producer Julie Wolf, who’s worked with recording artists including the Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco and Carly Simon.

Cassity said another requirement of her grant is to make the album available to the Osage public. “For example, I will be giving away 200 free downloads of Songs from the Well to Osage people. The thought of youngsters and elders and folks who would find upliftment and inspiration from this album in my tribe makes me so happy,” Cassity said.

Also being planned are performances when the album is completed. Cassity said she is planning an April performance at the Osage Tribal Museum in Pawhuska.

Click this link to learn more about Cassity at indiegogo.com: www.indiegogo.com/projects/marca-cassity-songs-from-the-well

Cassity is also on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/marcacassitymusic