Calgary Bluesfest (2009)
"Rita Chiarelli… a voice that can growl at her demons or soar with the angels, a gift for lyric, an ear for melody and the heart to combine them." She is an accomplished singer-songwriter, a gifted vocalist and a skilled musician. Add to that a warm persona and a fine sense of humour and you have all the ingredients for an outstanding performer. Rita Chiarelli's style defies definition. Although dubbed the goddess of Canadian blues by CBC's Shelagh Rogers, Chiarelli is equally comfortable belting out the blues; delivering her original material, crooning an Italian folk song or wailing R&B or an Elvis Presley cover tune. At first listen it's her voice – that three octave range - that garners all the attention! But Rita's songwriting is also outstanding; three of her four JUNO nominations have been for albums consisting largely of original material.
An accomplished entertainer , Chiarelli has been performing since the age of fifteen. As Ronnie Hawkins (with whom she toured in the early days) noted… "once in a lifetime you hear a voice so blue it makes the angels weep.. that voice is Rita Chiarelli". Beyond the blues arena, Chiarelli creates her own unique sound that is a blend of musical influences. Her songs shimmer with blues based rock undertones, jazz riffs, Cajun and country tinged melodies blended with a folk-roots flavour. Few can match the wide range of Chiarelli's vocal stylings and the consistently solid lyrics she pens. Rita Chiarelli is a gifted storyteller, lyricist and master of poetic imagery.
After spending most of the 1980's working in Italy, Chiarelli returned to Canada where "Have You Seen My Shoes" was featured in Bruce McDonald's cult classic, the 1989 film Roadkill. Along with touring Canada, the USA and Europe during the 1990s, Rita Chiarelli released three albums on the Stony Plain and Northern Blues labels. Breakfast at Midnight was nominated for a JUNO in 2001. It, along with 1992's Road Rockets, has just been re-released by Rita's record company Mad Iris Records. Mad Iris also released the JUNO nominated No One to Blame in 2004 and Cuore... the Italian sessions in 2006. Cuore won Rita the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award for best solo World Music act. As CBC radio's Heather McLeod stated "I didn't understand a word, but my heart understood every note. This album rings with love and respect for Chiarelli's Italian heritage, and her skill as a singer and an artist. I couldn't bear to pry it out of my CD player."
Uptown Goes Downtown Tonight... Rita Chiarelli with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra is Chiarelli's most ambitious recording project to date. Eleven of her songs were arranged and charted for the symphony, recorded in November 2007 & released in March 2008. You may have heard Rita Chiarelli in concert, but you've never heard her with a back up band like this one!
Rita Chiarelli has a JUNO win and four nominations, and has won multiple Maple Blues Awards, Canadian Folk Music, and Toronto Independent Music awards. She is an honourary lifetime member of The Manitoba Blues Society, and the 2002 recipient of CBC's Great Canadian Blues Award. Her albums are distributed by Festival Distribution in Canada and Burnside Distribution in the USA. Chiarelli continues to tour incessantly, appearing at festivals and theatres across North America and throughout Europe. Rita Chiarelli is currently "road testing" her new original material which will be featured on the upcoming album Back to Blue.