New CD Release "We are Welcomed"
2016 Pragmavision 35

Mike Regenstreif
Folk Roots/Folk Branches Blog

For the fourth time since 1981, Sally Rogers and Claudia Schmidt – both of whom I first met sometime in the ‘70s – have combined their always lovely and frequently powerful voices together in glorious harmony.

We are Welcomed features seven of Claudia’s original songs, three of Sally’s, and four drawn from other songwriters that they make their own.

Among the highlights from Claudia’s songs are a couple of powerful topical songs. “Willful Ignorance,” carries wise advice to those might be seduced by trumpian demagoguery, while “Still on the Bridge” reflects both on the deadly attack on civil rights marchers in 1965 in Alabama as they left Selma and crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge en route to Montgomery and how, half a century later, we are still, figuratively, on that bridge.

Other highlights from among Claudia’s songs are “Jamaica’s Tree,” a poignant tribute to a young woman from her neighborhood who lost her life at a too young age, and to the resilience of her mother; and the inspiring “Quiet Hills,” a 1994 song from one of Claudia’s solo albums that is re-recorded here with Sally’s magnificent harmonies.

Sally’s songs include the title track, “We are Welcomed,” a zipper song that celebrates new life (or rejuvenated life) with “song,” “joy,” “hope” and “love”; “Prudence Crandall,” a homage to a Connecticut teacher, who, many decades earlier, had been persecuted for breaking the color barrier in her classroom; and “The Tunes Jacqueline Plays,” a tribute to the seemingly magic musical abilities of pianist Jacqueline Schwab (who is the pianist on the album and on this song).

Each of the four songs by other writers is a sublime choice. Neal Hagberg’s “Star Girls” is a heartrending but, ultimately, hopeful tribute to girls and young women who are sold into slavery and/or repressed by religious fundamentalism. Peggy Seeger’s “Love, Call Me Home” is a lovely paean to friendship, while Jean Ritchie’s “The Cool of the Day,” based on a passage from Genesis when Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden, is given a stunning treatment with Sally’s lead vocal and Claudia’s harmony.

My favorite of the cover songs is a magnificent version of Sandy Denny’s autumnal masterpiece “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.” There have been many great versions of this song since the late-1960s and this version stands very tall among them. By the way, the drummer on the album, and on “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” is Dave Mattacks, who was once a member of Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny (although I believe he joined the band after they recorded the song).

New CD Release "We are Welcomed"
2016 Pragmavision 35

Steve Nelson
May 21, 2016


Your CD arrived a couple of days ago.....We are so grateful for the art and arc of your music that flows straight to our hearts! This CD is an amazing accomplishment and gift from you and Sally, to us. Sam says this is a CD made for those who live IN this messy world and still LOVE it, complete with all its pain and promise.

We can't wait to see you soon and to meet Sally for the first time. Our daughter will likely be visiting us that day...We are filled with grateful anticipation.

Steve and Sam

Star Girls: You two have taken a great song and through your arrangement and performance made it even better than that!!


Ellen Nordstrom - Voice Department Chair
Concord Community Music School
Concord, New Hampshire

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Just caught the tail end of Claudia's concert at CedarHouse Sound & Mastering. My God, that woman can sing and left me with the joy of encountering such a talent and special soul. Claudia's lyrics and the candor with which she delivered them musically and otherwise, shared her life's travels and travails in such a way that was so inclusive of her audience, that one could not help but become spellbound, enamored at the very least! Ms. Schmidt is such an effusively enchanting musical host/tour guide; one minute you feel you are going down the Grand Rapids and the next minute you find yourself floating along a gentle stream. Thank you, Fran and Gerry Putnam, for hosting
and introducing me to such an amazingly gifted and truly sincere performer! I will keep her "Evidence of Love" close to
my heart!

2012, Red House Records

Michael Devlin
Music Matters Review

This is a compilation of material from Claudia Schmidt’s Red House Records releases dating from 1987 to 2000. Not knowing that on first listen, I found the music to be all of a piece, sharing a high level of musicianship, songwriting quality and Schmidt’s dynamic and dazzling singing. Her voice sounds like it would need no amplification to be heard at an outdoor festival, yet flexible enough to express everything from a tear to a smile. The songs in this collection range from folk to jazz and blues, always grounded in her uniquely agreeable style. Although the musical styles vary, the production is exquisite. Noted for her 12-string guitar and dulcimer playing, she is joined by brilliant studio musicians and notable guest artists including Beausoleil, The Violent Femmes, Peter Ostroushko, Dean Magraw, Sally Rogers and others. If you have heard Schmidt live or on A Prairie Home Companion or Mountain Stage over the years, you will find it quite a treat to listen to this beautiful compilation. —Michael Devlin

Collected Songs (Red House Records, 2012)

Jerome Clark
July 28, 2012

For many years Claudia Schmidt has plied her trade as singer, songwriter, interpreter and guitarist from an Upper Midwestern base, living at various times in Chicago, Milwaukee, Michigan and (currently) Minneapolis. I used to see her on occasion at the Earl of Old Town, a once-famous folk/acoustic club on Chicago's North Side. In those days I was so focused on the more tradition-based, rural-accented artists ("authentic" folk singers) -- Schmidt was not among them -- that all I can remember of her from then is thinking that she seemed like a nice person.

Hearing Bend in the River, I deduce that either I'm getting decades-old memories refreshed or I'm hearing a more mature Claudia Schmidt than I was exposed to in the late 1970s. A retrospective on her recording career, Bend begins in 1987 and ends in 2000. It ably documents how versatile, gifted and not entirely classifiable she is as a performer. Perhaps the last quality explains why club and coffeehouse, as opposed to larger venues and record labels, remain her natural home.

Her tastes encompass mainstream jazz and classic pop as well as folk. In the last category, the 19th-century hymn "Wayfaring Stranger" -- the one traditional cut -- appears in an affecting reading at once lush and austere. A couple of duets with Sally Rogers on originals "Grampa Johnson" and "Going By" attest to Schmidt's affection for the old-time sound, which co-exists easily with her command of more urbane idioms. There are also, on occasion, Caribbean and gospel rhythms to be heard. The four pure jazz cuts (along with several merely jazz-inflected ones) have a particular appeal as testimony to Schmidt's understated but remarkable vocal skill and sophistication.

I hesitate to compare her to anybody in particular because she is so emphatically herself. Since, however, hardly anybody sounds like nobody at all, I guess I'll opt for Joni Mitchell, with a serious qualification or two. For one thing, Schmidt's style is accessible, friendly and anything but aloof. It speaks to a warmth of spirit that ice-queen Mitchell could never hope to communicate even if she wanted to. If Schmidt's muse flies her in a multitude of directions, it never takes her too far from the ground.

By Andrea Canter
Contributing editor, "Jazz Police"
Saturday, 07 April 2012

She's widely known as a singer/songwriter of folk and blues, an accomplished performer on 12-string guitar and mountain dulcimer, and a regular during the early years of Prairie Home Companion. Describing herself as a "creative noisemaker," Claudia Schmidt has released more than a dozen recordings (including 5 on the Red House label) and has appeared on the stages of concert halls, small clubs, and folk festivals. In recent years, she has explored a long-time bent toward jazz, most notably with the release of Live at the Dakota (2006). Along the way she also found time to operate an inn and restaurant on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. Now back in the Twin Cities, Claudia celebrates the release of Bend in the River, a 16-track retrospective of her Red House discography showcasing her diverse range and talents. Special appearances by members of JJ Farley & the Original Soul Stirrers, Beausoleil, Violent Femmes,
and Tom Waits.

Band meld here with Claudia's work with Minnesota jazz and folk favorites Dean Magraw, Gordy Johnson, Phil Hey, Peter Ostroushko, and Marc Anderson. "There's a full circle feel to this album," says Claudia. "Listening to these songs is like watching a sped-up camera shot of a flower opening. I can summon up exactly what was happening in my life at the moments when I wrote and recorded these songs."

From Big Earful (1987), Claudia teamed with the J.J Farley band, jazzers Billy Peterson (bass), the late J.C. Hear (drums). The opening/title track is a propulsive jazz/folk commentary on social change, with fast-paced, searing lyrics, while "Pretty at the End" has a dark blue hue that bleeds day into night. "You Can Call Me Baby" opens with a moaning solo from Billy Peterson, Claudia showing off her skill putting blues into folk notions with a bold slide of jazzy humor tying it all together. "Making it Across the Road" has the feel of an African ritual, a call and response spirit, a percussive underlay, and a snakey melody that suggests a horn line.

From Essential Tension (1991), Claudia brings on the one-time favorite jazz ensemble of Don Stille, Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey along with Jay Young, Dave and Kathy Jensen, Dean Magraw and more. "Racer" has more of a folk/pop sensibility with a country vibe from Magraw's guitar; her own dulcimer and Andrea Stern's harp put the Americana touch onto "Persophone's Song;" "Into the Weep" melds a big band swinging chorus with the soul-stirring sass of Claudia, the comedienne/storyteller, while "Black Crow" summons (again) the African roots of American jazz and blues, enhanced by Kathy Jenson's turn on alto sax.

1991's While We Live (With Sally Rodgers) added Marc Anderson, Gordy Johnson and Dean Magraw to the two voices. "Grampa Johnson" particularly grabs with the dancing quality of dulcimer and bass; "Going By" gives more space to Anderson's percussion, but again the dulcimer gives this track it's distinctive, almost Celtic folk feel.

It Looks Fine From Here (1994) was recorded while Claudia was preparing an old log house as a B&B on Beaver Island, MI, the instrumentation pared down to her own strings, Anderson's percussion and Magraw's guitar. "Banana Moon" and "Waltzing on the 45th Parallel" highlight Claudia's instrumental prowess on both 12-string guitar and dulcimer, while "Rising" has an assertive rhythmic foundation that again seems to draws from an African folk tradition.

Claudia again used a smaller ensemble to record Wings of Wonder (2000), this time with just Dean Magraw on guitar and e-bow and Peter Ostroushko on fiddle, mandolin and percussion. The album's title track features Claudia's facility (writing and singing) fast-paced lyrics against an almost-bluegrass backdrop; her voice and the instrumental harmonies haunt the traditional "Wayfaring Stranger;" while "It All Depends" ends the collection with a song of introspection and hope.

This is no more a jazz album than a folk album or a blues album. It is a quintessentially Claudia Schmidt album. 'Nuf said.

Claudia Schmidt will be touring east and west in April. She'll celebrate Bend in the River at the Phipps Center in Hudson, WI on May 20th;
715-386-8409 or

New CD Release "Promising Sky"

Mike Regenstreif
Thursday, February 4, 2010

I first heard Claudia Schmidt more than 30 years ago. She struck me, back in the late 70's, as one of those people who is just inherently musical as she'd move, seemingly effortlessly from a Michael Smith song, to a blues standard, to a traditional ballad sung a cappella. Listening to her records over the years, it's probably 20 years or so since I've seen her live, I've not changed my mind about that musicality.

Although she came out of the folk scene, and has kept one of her feet firmly planted there, in recent years Claudia has simultaneously devoted herself to jazz. Several of the CDs that she's released recently have been fine jazz efforts while others have remained in the folk vein.

Promising Sky, Claudia's new album, blends her folk and jazz influences and adds some blues and world music spicing in a fine collection of mostly-original material.

Among the highlights is "Wisconsin Country," a haunting song that has Claudia's ethereal vocals supported by the bowed bass of Jack Dryden and flute of Nancy Stagnitta, as she describes an autumnal journey through the countryside and into herself. Another is "If All Goes Well," a jazzy tune about the resiliency of the human spirit. I also really like her version of "We'll Be Together Again," a standard familiar from the vocal-piano duets of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans. This version features Claudia's voice and 12-string guitar receiving some quietly-soulful support from mandolinist Don Julin, bassist Dryden and drummer Randy Marsh.

I have to say, though, that my absolute favourite song on the CD is the title track. Sung a cappella with harmonies from Seth Bernard, May Erlewine and Rachael Davis, "Promising Sky" is a bright, gorgeous, hope-filled song inspired by the choral tradition of South Africa.

REVIEW on on her 2006 release "SPINNING."
By Chris Rietz
Lansing State Journal

Claudia Schmidt belongs to the genre of hyperliterate songwriters, a word-monger of the first order, sometimes bursting at the boundaries of song form. In addition, she's a firecracker of a singer, irrepressibly emotional, and a radiant, almost overwhelming performer. It's the folksinger trifecta, and in this Schmidt is nearly in a class by herself

Both the terror and sedutiveness of the dark have long been a theme in Schmidt's songs-the title cut, the dark, jazzy "Chickasdee Blues", the terrifying "Trailhead", and the urgent "Waiting" all concern mortality and our sidelong relationship with it. On the other hand, she gives her inner cabaret singer free reign in the comically minor-key "Too Late for Breakfast", and the funny musical-theater-flavored "Be Nice"..

Despite a career spanning nearly four decades, her intense, incandescent vocal style shows no sign of dimming, and nowhere is that more evident than in "Christmas Eve", one of the finest peace-on-Earth anthems ever written. "The Moment They Knew", a haunting treatment of the big-bang, universe-creating moment when two people fall in love, is that rarest of birds: an utterly original song about love.


Those who keep trying to categorize Claudia Schmidt's music should just give it up and file her under the general category 'TALENT' Big talent.
Post-Bulletin (Rochester, Mn.)

Schmidt is a one-woman revitalization movement. .Schmidt is the best at what she does.
The Tribune (Oakland, Ca.)

Claudia Schmidt is a true artist-she has talent AND the fire of genius
The Boston Globe

She comes at you straight from the shoulder, letting the listener feel the full impact of heer delivery, leaving nothing behind.
David Nathan (

Claudia, Claudia, Claudia, that's all you need to say. .one of the finest folk voices ever to pick up a mic. Chocolatey smooth vocals swirled into jiving notes. Too delicious!

Border's Books and Music.