Christine Santelli: ‘I consider myself, especially now after doing this, a writer who’s not working in only one genre.’ (Photo: Alicia Root)
100 Videos In 100 Days
Christine Santelli’s Ambitious Self Promotion Hits The Mark
By David McGee
Christine Santelli is threatening to ascend from the “criminally overlooked” category to being recognized as one of the finest singer-songwriters around. And she’s doing it on her own terms, taking advantage of the Internet’s opportunities for self promotion to showcase a whole mess of new songs she’s written since this past summer, as well as some older ones revisited in different arrangements, all captured in video performances shot at her home and at venues where she’s played.
The idea originated with her husband, Matt Mousseau, who is the drummer in Santelli’s fine band and plays freelance gigs with other groups when his wife is not performing. While he was away at one of those freelance gigs, Santelli wrote a new song. When she played it for him, Matt’s response was to suggest she “should record a hundred songs in a hundred days,” Santelli says. “I was like, alright. The next morning I thought, I made the commitment, I’m actually going to do this.”
She started posting videos on her Facebook page, then uploading them to YouTube, feeling that by going public with her project, “I could keep myself on track.”
Most of the videos were shot in Santelli’s home, in what she calls “the Red Room” (where her essential album Tales From The Red Room was written) but a few were filmed at gigs or during radio interviews. Of the 100, “six or seven are from years ago that were started but never finished. There’s 50 total that haven’t been recorded. They only exist in these videos. Brand spanking new? Thirty-eight, maybe forty.”
Apart from the challenge the project posed, Santelli has found this focused songwriting lab paying off in multiple ways she hadn’t anticipated but which have been critical to her ongoing evolution from a blues artist to an uncategorizable singer-songwriter.” I’ve never sat with an instrument as much as I did in the last three months,” she said. “It’s made me such a better guitar player, and more in tune with songwriting, a better songwriter just from doing this. I’ve also noticed I listen to songs differently—I listen to parts.
“I consider myself, especially now after doing this, a writer who’s not working in only one genre. Now I really need to spend some time with the songs and learn them, and that’s always been a struggle for me. That’s the hard part; it’s not fun to do that. It’s homework, you know.”
And starting next month, check the Contents page of each issue of TheBluegrassSpecial.com for the exclusive Christine Santelli Video Of The Month.
‘My Old Friend’
‘Where have you gone my old friend/I’d like to see you again/to blow all the pinwheels or just pick the grass/It was all simple then…”—a beautiful piano ballad
‘She Wasn’t Wrong’
‘Never lost sight of a dream/She played guitar and she’d sing/Never thought it’d take so long/She stuck it out/She wasn’t wrong, she wasn’t wrong”—an acoustic version of one of the powerful tracks from the essential Tales From The Red Room album
‘I remember when I held your hand/sheltered you from the crazy ones/hold you tight then I’d let you run/now you’re flyin’ high…’—tough, pop-ish with bluesy overtones, and a gritty vocal
‘Close To You’
An acoustic version of a song fit for a small swing band arrangement.
‘Bicycles In The Park’
A piano instrumental, graceful and evocative
A fingerpicked gem, winsome, tender, warm and touching. Beautiful.
A solo acoustic performance at WEXT Albany of one of the unforgettable pop-flavored songs from Santelli’s latest album, Any Better Time.