Fri 5/11 @ 8PM
At the risk of stifling creativity or losing interest, true artists never stop learning. For Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Diana Chittester, that meant spending an outrageous amount of time learning Nancy Wilson’s intro to Heart classic “Crazy on You.”
Not surprisingly, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s style influences Chittester’s new EP Paradox, which found the local artist spreading her wings unlike ever before.
“It was definitely time for new music,” Chittester said. “It had been about three years since I put out Find My Way Home. I had to sort of discover what new voice to bring to a record.
“With this particular one, I went down a production route I had not done with any of my other records before. I wanted to create something that would go beyond what just the guitar and the lyrics could bring to music. I wanted to be able to use other instruments and arrangements to help invoke all kinds of emotions.”
Feeling constrained by the singer-songwriter tag, Chittester sought out influences ranging from the aforementioned Heart to modern indie rock artist LP, with the turning point being new songs “Freedom” and “On My Own.” Those tracks set the table for what would become Paradox.
“‘Freedom’ is a very positive song talking about pursuing your dreams and breaking free from things you feel enslaved to in life,” Chittester said. “Then I followed that up with ‘On My Own.’ It’s my own personal testimony about what it’s like to be a self-employed musician, but more so, what it’s like to be pursuing your own passion in life.
“I realized in a sense of I had become enslaved to my own passion. I started to create this paradoxical tone of how there are many perspectives and many ways to look at single issues.”
In order to see her vision fully realized, Chittester made the decision to come out of her comfort zone. Not only did she let producer Matt Troja (Keith Urban, Sara Evans, the Dave Matthews Band’s Jeff Coffin) have full control over the project, but the majority of the new EP includes other musicians helping her bring her music to life.
“When I made the decision to put it into somebody else’s hands, it was making the decision to say, ‘Bring what is being presented to its fullest potential,’” said Chittester, who plays her first full band gig at the EP release show May 11 at the Beachland Tavern.
Fans can expect to hear “Freedom” and “On My Own,” as well as an inspired version of “Crazy on You.”
Chittester currently finds herself at a crossroads as a recording and touring musician who, similar to her idol Ani DiFranco, finds opportunity and freedom as an independent artist.
“The job is to keep moving forward, and I’m not ready to settle on anything,” Chittester said. “Being able to maintain so much of it on my own has given me the opportunity to actually do it as a job, to make a decent living.
“The hope is that this EP will get the attention of more audiences, we’ll be able to bring more people and do more shows as a result.”
Averaging roughly 150 shows annually for the better part of the last decade, Chittester said she’s currently moving away from some of the local clubs and into performing arts centers and folk venues.
“The kind of work I’m doing is stronger and better, and gets better results from audiences, but it also has slowed down the amount of work I’m doing,” Chittester said. “Although, I feel busier than I have in a long time.”