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Recent Dana Point transplant Contessa Black finds support for music in Kenny Williams

For singer/songwriter Contessa Black, making the move to Dana Point from Los Angeles was more about the quest for a serene lifestyle in a picturesque beach town and the adventure of buying her first home than about advancing her budding music career.

Black recently made the decision to leave LA where she grew up, and along with her sister, ventured south looking for an opportunity to embark on the adventure of becoming first-time home buyers in search of a haven far from the noise and crowds of the big city.

The duo found a home—a real “fixer upper”—and this summer, the renovations commenced. “It’s been a little rough so far as far as building codes and inspection goes,” said Black. “This is all new territory for me.”

Though embarking on this new territory, Black has leaned on a part of her life that is anything but new—music. According to her family, she has been singing her whole life—possibly since before she could talk—they say. With a newly completed first album under her belt, this talented songstress left one of the world’s music capitols for little Dana Point not knowing what, if any, opportunities she’d find in the world of music here.

Enter Kenny’s Music. Dubbed the “biggest little music store” in Dana Point, owner Kenny Williams is known as one of the area’s most enthusiastic champions of local musical talent.

“I think Dana Point is blooming with talent—much of it undiscovered. But we also have some legendary performers living in the area too. I’m always encouraging people like Tessa (short for Contessa) to come out and play at the local jam nights and music venues because I believe that someday Dana Point could be a hot spot for music, sort of like Seattle was in the ‘90s. At least I’m hoping so,” said Williams, a musician himself for 50 years. “I’ve seen many eras of music come and go, so I always get excited to hear new talent in all musical styles. I think Tessa’s got what it takes to be successful with her fusion of past and present. That’s what I hear in her music—Billie Holiday-type jazz with a blues influence and that’s exciting to see. We are always welcoming talent like hers around here and are more than willing to help.”

Williams went on to describe Black’s album, Sick Woman (Looking for a Healthy Man) as Billie Holiday meets Bonnie Raitt.

It’s not your typical gut-bucket blues but a melding of jazz and blues that has a very soulful and mature sound.

“You can’t call it jazz and you can’t call it Mississippi blues either. It’s a fusion of the two—past meets the future,” said Williams. “I was surprised when I met her to see such a young person and thought to myself, ‘That can’t be her. She’s not old enough.’ There’s a maturity to the sound of her music and then when you see her, she’s such a sweet young lady. It’s kind of hard to put the two together.”

Black’s songs have a sort of “old soul” sound to them that is very contemporary sounding and lyrically relatable at the same time. Audiences both young and old are embracing her music.

“I think the younger generation does embrace the old. Take Amy Winehouse for instance,” said Williams. “She’s got an old-school sound but it’s very appealing to a younger audience as well. I am even seeing this with my music students. The kids want to learn classic rock and old blues. Through the media and games like Guitar Hero, young people are being exposed to this type of sound.”

Black is not the only young talent featured on her album, all of the musicians in her band, except for a guest artist drummer from the Steve Miller Band, are in their early 20s.

Stop by Kenny’s Music pick up a copy of Contessa Black’s, Sick Woman (Looking for a Healthy Man.) The CD, with 10 all original tracks, sells for $13.

For more information on Contessa Black, log on to her website at www.contessablackmusic.com.

Kenny’s Music Store is located at 24731 La Plaza, on the corner of La Plaza and Golden Lantern in Dana Point and is open Mon. through Fri. from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p. m. Their website is www.kennysmusicstore.com.

Click on this link to hear samples of Contessa Black’s music.

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