In a city full of exceptional vocalists, Luella sounds like no one else. She brings expressive, soulful, and sultry stylings to blues-derived original material featuring a variety of flavors from rock to jazz to gospel. The East Nashvillian recently chatted with Luella about her musical mojo.
EN: You had a successful residency at The Family Wash with Crackerboots, your collaboration with Bill DeMain. How did Crackerboots come together? I was asked to be a part of a Bossa Nova gig at the old Family Wash location. I did a few Brazilian songs. Bill DeMain was there doing some songs as well. I introduced myself to Bill and asked if he wanted to get together to write sometime. We did, and we clicked so naturally. Since then, we have been on a writing roll.
EN: The band has roots that run deep into the vernacular of vocal jazz. When, and how, were you first exposed to these musical idioms? I listened to jazz singers if my dad was playing it around the house, and sometimes in old movies — singers like Eartha Kitt, Doris Day, Billie Holiday, Ella (Fitzgerald), Anita O’ Day. However, I never listened very thoroughly to any of this stuff. It was always just there in the background somewhat, and I think subconsciously, and later consciously, it became another way for me to express myself as a singer and writer. Bill has his influences, too. Between the two of us, I don’t know. We just are what we are.
EN: You move easily between a variety of musical styles. What led to you having such a broad musical palette? I like so many things. I just do what moves me in the moment. I love to rock. I love to sing pretty, too. Just doing whatever inspires me is the bottom line. Sometimes I’m inspired to wail with a feeling of wreckless abandon, and sometimes I’m shaping something more precise and in tune. Sometimes I’m being overly simple to give props to the basics. I just want whatever I do to come from an authentic place. If something doesn’t resonate with me, or if I don’t feel I can get a message across musically in a way that’s soulful and unique, I don’t do it. It has to be true or I don’t touch it. … There’s a base to work from in all genres, but applying my own stamp to it is always my intention. Making it unique.