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Teresa Trull

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Teresa Trull


Teresa Trull Teresa Trull Wikipedia

Step Away, Unexpected, Playtime, Country Blessed


Teresa trull flow

Teresa Trull is an American female singer, musician, songwriter, and record producer from Durham, North Carolina. She is recognized as a pioneer in Women's music, with her debut album The Ways a Woman Can Be released on Olivia Records in 1977.


Teresa Trull Teresa Trull Biography Albums Streaming Links AllMusic

She has recorded two albums with Barbara Higbie and one with Cris Williamson. She has toured and recorded with Bonnie Hayes, David Sanborn, Andy Narell, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Alex DeGrassi, Joan Baez, Linda Tillery, Cris Williamson, Holly Near, and Tracy Nelson. She has performed all over the world, from Puerto Rico to Egypt, and Costa Rica to Greece.

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Trull has also worked as a songwriter, with The Whispers among others. She was twice nominated for Best Producer of an Independent Album by the New York Music Awards.

Teresa trull woman loving women 1977

Early life

Trull was raised part-time on a chicken farm and part-time in Durham, North Carolina. Her parents always struggled financially, with her father living in a trailer at the corner of two highways. Trull refers to her father's family as "hillbillies"; her father didn't leave the mountains of Tennessee until he was 25 years old. She spent a lot of time in her youth playing in the woods by herself, for example imagining herself as an Irish battle queen in full regalia which became the subject of a song later in her life. She developed a love of horses and other animals, riding horses as young as age three.

Trull sang in churches as a child, which served as her initial introduction to music. Later in life she ventured into folk and rock music, but as a teenager her passion was singing gospel music in church.

Trull left home at age sixteen, after her mother died. During high school, she played guitar in a band. At a school talent show, Trull substituted on vocals for an ill bandmate on a day that a rock band was in attendance. Soon afterwards, Trull started attending Duke University on a full scholarship to study chemistry and intended to become a researcher. She quickly became disillusioned with what she witnessed in research labs, so four weeks into her freshman year of college when members of Ed's Bush Band asked her to tour with them, she jumped at the chance to earn a living by singing. She played in rock & roll groups in the early 1970s on the East Coast and Southern United States. At age nineteen, Trull relocated to New York City.

Olivia Records

While she was living in New York, some friends of Trull's sent a tape of her music to Olivia Records, then located in Los Angeles, California. Olivia was a fledgling women-only record company, devoted to recording music by women, for women, and about women. The Olivia collective was interested in recording Trull, but had other projects in the works. They encouraged Trull to move to LA, and gave her a job in the company's packing and shipping department until her recording could take place. Afterwards, she was named as one of the organization's "new executive staff members".

Trull's first album with Olivia was The Ways A Woman Can Be released in 1977. It was Olivia's fifth LP release and two singles were released as well. The album's style is primarily folk-rock with R&B, gospel, and country influences, and contains several songs with overt lesbian and/or feminist lyrics, such as "Woman-Loving Women" and "Don't Say Sister (Until You Mean It)." Six of the album's eight songs were composed by Trull, most of them written when she was between the ages of 16 and 20.

Also in 1977, Olivia released the compilation album Lesbian Concentrate in response to Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade. Two Trull performances were included on the LP: "Prove It On Me Blues" (composed by Gertrude "Ma" Rainey) and "Woman-Loving Women" (composed by Trull).

Olivia released a second Trull LP in 1980 titled Let It Be Known. This album also contains overtly lesbian and feminist lyrics ("There's A Light" and "Every Woman"), but the musical styles are funk, jazz, and pop. Guest musicians included some well-known artists from within the women's music community, such as Julie Homi, Linda Tillery, Ellen Seeling and Jean Fineberg from the group Deuce, as well as mainstream artists such as Sheila E. on drums and percussion.

The LP generated some controversy within the lesbian-feminist community because two of the songs were co-written by Trull and a man, Ray Obiedo. Prior to this LP, all Olivia recordings were completely women-only projects, including artists, composers, and technicians. The LP's cover was criticized by some because Trull was wearing make-up in the photograph and there were accusations that Olivia intentionally put sexually-oriented subliminal messages on the cover of the LP. The criticism of Let It Be Known from within the lesbian community contributed to the resignation of the Olivia staffer who was the graphic designer of the cover. The recording was also criticized by some for being too commercial in its sound, with one reviewer going so far as to call it a "dull collection of every slick disco cliché."

But Let It Be Known was also credited with expanding Olivia's audience. It received positive reviews in some major newspapers, including the Boston Globe which described it as "delightful" and "an upbeat LP that approaches those hackneyed themes of love and sisterhood with a fresh underpinning of gospel, funk, and jazz."

Years later, Trull reflected on the lessons she learned working on Let It Be Known. The intention of the LP was to produce it with all women, but to make it more technically viable than previous Olivia recordings. She described the recording as a "total financial bomb" and a "big nightmare" to make, because of the desire to use women musicians who may not have the studio experience to give the producer what they want in an efficient manner, which increased the costs of the recording process. While Trull did not produce Let It Be Known, she remembered the experiences later in her career when she was responsible for the finances of other recordings.

During the late 1970's and early 1980's, Trull frequently toured with jazz pianist Julie Homi. One Canadian concert reviewer wrote: "Singer Teresa Trull and pianist Julie Homi both showed the type of talent that should have them all over the record charts and gossip mags, but because they have chosen to work entirely in the world of 'women's music,' they generally play in front of dedicated cults only."

Trull left the Olivia collective around 1981, citing a "difference in philosophy." She was a budding producer and wanted Olivia's recordings to be of high technicianship, and she was willing to work with men. At the time, Olivia president Judy Dlugacz wanted to continue to depend on the markets the company had always used and to remain separatist. Even though she resigned her administrative position with Olivia, Trull continued to record with the company's subsidiary label, Second Wave Records.

Redwood Records

In 1986, Trull released a CD on Redwood Records titled A Step Away. Trull wrote or co-wrote six of the nine songs and also produced the recording. The album was intentionally more pop-oriented than her prior recordings, in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience than the traditional women's music community. It was recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles and featured vocalists Bonnie Hayes and Vicki Randle. Hayes also wrote or co-wrote two of the songs, including "Rosalie" which was originally to be recorded by Huey Lewis. Lewis turned down the song and so Trull decided to use it on her album, and it has become one of Trull's signature songs. Veteran record producer Stewart Levine called A Step Away "one of the best producing efforts he'd ever heard for its limited budget." The CD sold out the first 10,000 copies within a month and the recording industry trade magazine Cash Box included A Step Away as a "Featured Pick" in November 1986. This was the last solo album released by Trull; her subsequent CDs have been collaborative efforts with Barbara Higbie and Cris Williamson.

In 1987, Trull toured as a background singer with The Bonnie Hayes Band as the opening act for Huey Lewis and the News on a national tour that included stadium-sized audiences. Trull described the experience as "a real eye opener….What I saw was a lifestyle that I didn’t want any part of. You become a marketable product. You make decisions based on business and not on music."

Collaboration with Barbara Higbie

Teresa Trull met Barbara Higbie at a rodeo in Reno, Nevada in July 1982. They were on the same bill together and Trull admired Higbie's fiddle playing and musicianship. In August, the two musicians played together at a party and received a standing ovation after their first song, so they decided to see where the collaboration would take them. Their musical styles were quite different, with Higbie performing primarily in New Age and jazz genres, and Trull emphasizing gospel- and R&B-influenced sounds.

Trull and Higbie's first album together Unexpected was released on Olivia's Second Wave subsidiary label in 1983. Trull also acted as producer on this recording, with a budget of about $10,000. Trull and Higbie toured across the U.S. in support of this album, and a song from Unexpected ("Tell The Truth") was taken to space by an American astronaut. Of this album, a Boston Globe reporter wrote: it "is a wildly and sometimes wonderfully disparate collection of mostly original tunes that speak primarily about ladies, love, and letting go." It was also included in the Boston Globe's Guide to Best Albums of 1983.

Trull and Higbie broke up their musical and personal relationship in the mid-1980's, and both pursued solo careers. They reunited again for a performance at the 1991 Michigan Women's Music Festival and received a standing ovation from the 10,000 women in attendance, which inspired the pair to tour again beginning in 1992.

They released a second album together in 1997, titled Playtime on the Slowbaby label, and embarked on a 40-city tour in support of that recording. Like their previous album, Playtime was produced by Trull, with production assistance from Higbie.

Trull and Higbie continue to perform together occasionally, including on Olivia Travel cruises.

Collaboration with Cris Williamson

In 1988, Trull was producing an album for Hunter Davis and she hired women's music icon Cris Williamson to sing a duet with Davis, to help with the marketing of the LP. Even though they had been good friends for 10 years, that was the first time that Williamson had worked with Trull in the role of producer. After Davis's album Torn was completed, Williamson approached Trull to make a country album together. Both women had spent their childhoods in rural, agricultural areas with a love of country music.

The result was the album Country Blessed, released in 1989 on Olivia's Second Wave label. They wrote many of the lyrics together, and shared lead vocals as well as performing two duets. The album also featured many musical guests, including Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, Barbara Higbie, Vicki Randle, John Bucchino, and Laurie Lewis.

Country Blessed received positive reviews in both the mainstream and alternative press. The Washington Post review described the album as "a spirited set of superbly crafted country-influenced pop".

Career as record producer

In addition to a career as a musician, Trull has produced over 30 albums for herself and other artists including Cris Williamson, Deidre McCalla, Romanovsky and Phillips, Barbara Higbie, Hunter Davis and The Washington Sisters. Higbie said she feels Trull "has become an excellent producer. I've played on enough sessions that she has produced that I'm confident she can get the sound I'm looking for." Higbie said that in the role of producer, Trull is "in charge of the mechanics of getting everyone there, the way they work together, the intonation and the timing, the instrumentation, overseeing everything, making certain my vision becomes a reality."

For her production work on Deidre McCalla's album Don't Doubt It, Trull was nominated for the 1985 New York Music Awards Best Producer of an Independent Album. She was nominated for the same award again in 1989. Trull was also described by the San Francisco Bay Guardian as "probably the best 'alternative' record producer in the Bay Area."

Career as songwriter

Teresa Trull began writing songs as a teenager, describing herself at that time as "a completely self-taught singer/songwriter from the country." Her first album featured six of her compositions. On her second album, two of the songs were co-written by Trull and Ray Obiedo, who lived next door to Trull in East Oakland, California at the time. Trull had asked Obiedo to write a song with her for her upcoming LP and he agreed. This marked the beginning of a songwriting partnership between Trull and Obiedo that lasted 5 years (1980-1985) and resulted in approximately 50 songs co-written with Obiedo. The most commercially successful songs written by this pair were recorded in 1983 by The Whispers on their gold album Love for Love: the title track and "Try It Again".

Trull's compositions have also been recorded by George Benson and Casiopea. In addition to solo songwriting credits on all of her albums, Trull has also co-written songs with Gary Marks, Paul Davis, S. Burns, Julie Homi, Mary Watkins, and Cris Williamson.

Non-musical career

After the tour with Hayes and Lewis ended in 1987, Trull became disillusioned with the music business. She took a break from performing, focusing instead on producing music and training horses. Trull has always had a love of animals, particularly horses. Around this time, the manager of an Arabian horse farm in Los Angeles gave Trull a horse as a gift in return for Trull having taught her learning-challenged child to sing. Trull went looking for a place to keep the horse in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lived. The last site that Trull visited was a small breeding ranch and she became friends with the owner. Having apprenticed in the horse training business while also pursuing her music career, eventually Trull became the full-time ranch manager and horse trainer.

Trull is also an experienced dressage rider. In 1996, she and Creeky Routson formed a company named "Wild Ride" that specialized in choreography for freestyle dressage competitions, in which horses perform high-level dressage to music. Years later, Trull and Routson were asked by Kate van Orden, a University of California, Berkeley musicologist to take on the role of equestrian choreographers for van Orden's reconstruction of the 17th century equestrian extravaganza known as Le Carrousel du Roi, which was originally created to honor the marriage of King Louis XIII of France. The first production of this reconstructed "equestrian ballet" was presented on June 9 and 10, 2000 at the city of Walnut Creek, California's Heather Farm Park. Nineteen dancing horses were shared by fifteen riders in extravagant costumes, accompanied by Robert Ballard's 1612 music on period instruments. Following on the success of the event in 2000, it was presented again in June 2012, with new elements and refinements.

In summer 2011, Trull moved from the Bay Area to New Zealand. She and New Zealand native Michaela Evans started a business named "New Zealand Horse Help", which specializes in a range of services including behavioral problem solving, starting and training young horses, and advanced skills. In November 2012, Trull and Evans were invited to participate in New Zealand's "Equidays" to demonstrate their training techniques to improve the relationship between horse and rider, and in particular their specialized methods of connecting with an unbroken horse. Trull and New Zealand entertainer Jools Topp also performed musically at the two day event, held at the Mystery Creek Events Centre.

Personal life

Trull is openly lesbian. She was linked romantically with Barbara Higbie, although that relationship ended in the mid-1980s and Higbie has since married a man.

Trull served on the faculty and Board of Advisors of the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA), a non-profit teaching, performing and recording facility co-founded by June Millington whose mission is to support women in music and music-related businesses.

Trull and Linda Tillery were guest lecturers at a San Francisco State University class on women's music taught by Angela Davis.

In addition to horses, Trull loves birds and other animals. She has bred and shown English budgies. In 1989, she said she owned 35 birds, including a parrot. In a 2004 interview, Trull said she owned two horses, two dogs, two birds, two house cats, a barn cat, twelve guinea hens, and four goats.

Before friends sent a tape of an early Trull performance to Olivia Records, she worked as a dump truck driver.

Trull has described herself as "a total sports junkie." She was invited to sing the national anthem at a Golden State Warriors basketball game on December 4, 1988. The game was sold-out, with sixteen thousand people in the arena. She described the evening as "one of the most incredible music experiences" in her life, and she received a standing ovation for the performance, as well as the opportunity to sit behind the team bench.

Trull has a black belt in karate.

In 1988, Trull's hometown of Durham, NC surprised her with a "This Is Your Life" type of gala, at which she was presented a key to the city and a special citizen's award from the mayor.

Video singles

  • "Flow" (2009)
  • Films

  • Olivia Records 15th Anniversary Concert Highlights (Wolfe Video, 1988, VHS tape)
  • The Changer: A Record of the Times (Wolf Moon Records, 1991, VHS tape; DVD reissue 2005); Trull briefly appears in performance footage
  • Radical Harmonies (Woman Vision, 2002, DVD); includes a brief interview with Trull and some Trull performance footage
  • References

    Teresa Trull Wikipedia

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