James Gilchrist & Julie Sherwood perform as the Acoustic Duo "AWEN." Their original folk/rock, with tight vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar and percussion combined with Broadway favorites, popular standards, and romantic duets (backed by tracks or piano) will thrill your event goers. Make it a special afternoon or evening of music - time and again audiences have remarked on the quality of their original music, their beautiful voices, and the chemistry they share on stage. "AWEN" is a Welsh word meaning "inspiration or wisdom from the spiritual realm" - but they are not a Celtic band (although they love to play foot-stomping Irish tunes now and again!) James' lyrics seem inspired by nature and the mystical, with songs about fishing towns on rocky coasts, ghostly visions of lovers gone, winds that bring with them memories of celebrations past, and the strong feelings that surface when the heart finds - or loses - love. Haunting vocal harmonies and passionate lyrics; add some Broadway tunes, brilliant guitar & piano playing, clear voices and stir briskly! What you get is all "AWEN" - and an event to remember.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
"We first heard James Gilchrist and Julie Sherwood perform years ago and were captured by their outstanding performance! Their original songs written by James are of poetic beauty with catchy rhythms with a variety of instruments that make you want to get up and dance! Their harmonies flow together with grace & their performances are always fabulous! We invite them back every year to the New York Witch festival where all in attendance look forward each year to hearing their performance. They are professional and always a pleasure to work with! Rock on James and Julie!" - Nov. 10, 2007
----- Bonnie and Bob Thompson, owners of Crescent Moon Goddess (crescentmoongoddessDOTcom), sponsors of the New York Witch Festival (witchfestivalDOTcom) -----
"Fantastic voices, awesome harmonies - a delight for the senses. James and Julie sing beautiful melodies, some of their own, and some covers and show tunes (I have heard them do one of the songs from Phantom of the Opera and it gave me chills!) Be sure to catch their act..." - Feb. 2, 2007
----- Lilly Edens, owner of Esoterica of Leesburg, the largest D.C. Metro-area's New-Age store. (esotericaofleesburgDOTcom) -----
"I have been lucky enough to see this talented band live in the NYC area a few times, and their CD is a worthy substitute for their rollicking live shows. The songs are haunting and beautiful, with splendid guitar and vocal harmony work. The Celtic, New Age and Latin influences can be heard throughout. The melodies will stick with you long after the CD has stopped, and you will find yourself listening over and over again to marvel at the intricacies of James Gilchrist's lyrics. These songs make you "feel" - a rarity in today's age of manufactured pop nonsense."
----- CelticMoon (Morristown, NJ) Amazon CD Review (Out Of The Blue) -----
"The hearts and souls of gallant knights and disarming ladies beat in this music! The lyrics are enchanting poetry that catch you as quickly as the irresistible rhythms. An interesting mix of instruments and vocal style lends old world flavor. The melodies of "Always, "Think of Me", "Celebrating You" and "Share the Light" are unshakable. This CD expresses James Gilchrist's shining heart of gold."
----- Contessa "The Innkeeper" (Los Angeles, CA) Amazon CD Review -----
(Excerpt) ..."A Maid In Ninian's Day is a beautiful original Celtic New Age trip with powerful music. The melody sounds very traditional, like an old carol that I can't put my finger on... always a good sign. On the download page, you get a Pre-Raphaelite art piece that I assume was in part an inspiration for the song. For a live recording, it beautifully fits the mood. Simply beautiful!"
----- Marc Gunn, Celtic MP3s Music Magazine (celticmp3sDOTcom) -----
(Excerpt) "...James Gilchrist quickened the pulse with a rock number inspired by the John Keats poem "La Belle Dame sans Merci." Is it possible that another source of inspiration was Ricky Martin's "Livin' la Vida Loca"? Despite its Celtic roots, this piece has a distinct Latin flavor..."
----- Rose Deschenes, Brooklyn Heights Press, Arts & Entertainment -----
There isn't one performer that James Gilchrist sounds like - but there are many artists whose influence can be heard in his songwriting. He is a thoughtful lyricist with a positive outlook, an impression he manages to convey even in songs that speak to life's pain. Looking within to find answers, Gilchrist sometimes doesn't know what questions to ask - but he keeps asking, searching and learning. Emotionally-charged-yet-soothing vocals, stirring melodies that stay with the listener, haunting harmonies, and a writing style that stays fresh song after song invite audiences to step inside Gilchrist's music and wonder for the duration...
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
James and Julie met in the fall of 2004 and were immediately convinced they should make music together. At the time, James was looking to fill some vocal "shoes" left empty by the departure of vocalist Carol Crittenden from his band Blue Knight. He placed an ad on the NY area Craig's List to which Julie responded.
"I knew right away that Julie was a serious talent, someone I could count on to sing beautifully and to really dive in and learn lots of material. We clicked, too, on both an artistic and spiritual level - that was very important to me," said James when asked about meeting Julie for the first time. "We had a gig scheduled for the first week of the new year (2005) and with very short notice, she was prepared to perform several songs incorporating 3 part harmony. At the rehearsal studio, she and then Blue Knight singer Bethany Burgess-Smith sat on the floor comparing notes and getting to know each other. Her easygoing-yet-professional attitude impressed me - and her voice! To die for..."
After that first gig with James in January of 2005, Julie had to return to her home state of Colorado to perform in a theatrical production in which she'd been cast. "I was bummed that so soon after finding Julie, she had to leave on what would wind up a rather extended hiatus. But I understood - that we both had theater backgrounds was yet another reason I wanted to work with her. So I said I hoped she'd come back and work with us again and the show went on, as it were."
Happily for James, Julie did return in the fall of 2005 and expressed her interest in rejoining the band. "From September of 2005 until July of 2006, Julie was an intregal part of Blue Knight's music. She performed in many venues, learned a ton of music and folks remarked on her style and professionally trained voice. She and Debbi Adelman (who began singing with the band shortly after Julie left) became a great team with whom I loved working."
In July of 2006, James decided that the Blue Knight band had run its course. James asked Julie to continue to sing with him as he launched a new plan that would see the two of them performing as a duet and bringing new elements into the music. They would perform songs from musical theatre, explore ways to showcase Julie's talents as a lead singer and pianist, and record and write new music together as 2006 came to a close.
"We've recorded some Christmas music and are beginning work on a two new albums...one of songs we sing together and one of songs written for her to sing solo. She'll be recording piano, I'll be playing guitar and we'll both be taking advantage of the flexibility our home studio has to offer. As long as I keep getting to make music with Julie, I know I'll be happy. I'm so lucky she found me!"
(For more information about James and Julie, see the artist bios below.)
James studied music and voice at Susquehanna University (PA), acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory (NYC), and performed dozens of musicals, comedies, and dramas during the 10 years before he moved to New York City in January, 1998. There he worked steadily as an actor until September of 2001. Following 9/11 he decided that his songwriting muse could no longer be denied and he began performing his songs in bars, clubs and coffee houses in and around New York's Greenwich Village.
James first got the idea to create a company called "Share the Light Productions" in 1993 while performing a Civil War musical in Gettysburg, PA. He had just begun writing songs and hoped that someday such a company would help him to promote his unique style of folk/rock music. Ten years later that dream came to fruition and STLP also became "a center of spiritual operations" for all his artistic endeavors. He released his first CD "New Beginnings" in February, 2002. An all original soundtrack to a stage play of the same name, the CD marked the first time his songwriting skill was actively sought after by a producer (Kathy Towson) - and his music was suddenly available for purchase.
He founded the folk/rock/world band Blue Knight in January, 2003; a synchronistic combination of artists - performers, bright spirits, friends and musicians all - who took it upon themselves to live mythically while sharing in James' musical vision. World, latin, pop, and rock influences came together in Blue Knight's music. Poetry, Celtic legends, interpersonal and mythic relationships, and Pre--Raphaelite art all influenced James' lyrics. Share the Light Productions and the members of Blue Knight helped produce the next two CDs. The first, a special compilation disc featuring the band live and in the studio, was released in December, 2004. A second CD was recorded live during a performance in Leesburg, VA, at the New Age Store, Esoterica, in June, 2005.
In July, 2006, James realized that he was once again interested in reinventing himself. His desire to combine his background in theater, his voice training, his passion for performing his music in intimate settings, plus a new relationship with the wonderful singer, actress and pianist Julie Sherwood, led him to retire Blue Knight both as a name and as a band. He is currently writing music Julie will record on her upcoming CD, and they are also performing James' original music along with Broadway selections and historical (Civil War - remember Gettysburg?) music at venues up and down the east coast.
"New York has been great to me - I've been performing here for almost ten years and the experience has been life changing. Now I'm looking to gather up those experiences in my music and begin anew, perform with Julie and enjoy the chance to sing some classic theater songs, and "travel to places my songs haven't been." I've always enjoyed the connection that comes from performing for the audiences you find in coffee houses and out-of-the-way locations. I'd like to do more of that with Julie, while we discover together what lessons our mutual dreamseeking has to teach us. I'll still gig in New York for the time being, I'll still enjoy performing with the good friends I've made here but what the future holds is once again a mystery...and nothing inspires me more than the unknown!"
James' songwriting "habit" has found him playing his music in such diverse locales as New York City; the Outer Banks, NC; quayside in Wickford, RI; New Paltz, NY; Detroit, MI; Roswell, GA; San Francisco, CA; St. Petersburg, FL; Boston, MA; Gettysburg, PA; Denver, CO; Leesburg, VA; Sunnyvale, CA and well, you get the idea.
Julie is an accomplished vocalist, actress and pianist who studied musical theater performance at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City and music therapy at The Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO. She is certified by Princeton's Center for Music and Young Children as an early childhood music educator, and also by the Colorado School of Healing Arts as a massage therapist.
Prior to moving to New York in 2001, Julie performed in dozens of theatrical productions in the Denver area, as well as originating roles in several new operettas which toured the U.S.. She taught piano and voice at two music stores in the Denver area, was the music director for numerous regional theater productions, and was the founding music director for the Oasis Center for Spiritual Living in Littleton, CO. She also sang with various bands in styles ranging from country to pop and jazz.
Since 1998, Julie has sung principal vocals on over a dozen professional recordings, including the original concept CD for the musical Western Star by Dale Wasserman (Man of La Mancha) opposite Broadway's James Barbour (Jane Eyre, Beauty and the Beast) and Walter Winston O'Neill (Wicked). Her ability to record an entire musical in a single session, play multiple characters, and sing in a wide variety of styles and voices makes her a studio favorite with both producers and engineers.
After moving to New York to attend AMDA and explore new theatrical opportunities Julie performed in various plays, musicals, and cabarets, including originating a role in the Off-Broadway musical Dissenters. She also music directed several children's theater productions for the Manhasset school district's Saturday Series program and other area schools and theaters, and performed as part of the MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) outreach program designed to bring the arts to inner city schools.
Julie has extensive technical theater experience as well. Her proudest behind-the-scenes association is with the Denver-based theater company PHAMALy, The Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League. She first worked with them in 1992 and, since then, has been a member of their production staff or a helping hand backstage for eleven seasons. She continues to support them in their mission to provide actors with disabilities an ongoing opportunity to showcase their talents in professional-quality stage productions. These talented, passionate, unstoppable artists have become life-long friends, dearly-missed but ever-present guardian angels, and a constant source of inspiration in the pursuit of her own dreams.
In 2004 she nearly failed to discover magical minstrel James Gilchrist and his band Blue Knight. On an otherwise dreary December afternoon in New York she was perusing audition notices when the prepaid minutes on her copy-center computer ran out. As she prepared to log off the Universe intervened, revealing an alternate plan. Suddenly she noticed that a folk/rock/world band whose mission was to spread positive energy while singing uplifting messages of hope and light needed her! The possibility of singing material that would feed her soul and open the hearts and minds of listeners was, to her (as James is fond of saying) "like finding spiritual bread crumbs." So she picked up her audition material and followed the trail straight to his front door, where the rest became happy history! As Blue Knight has transitioned into the performing songwriter duo James Gilchrist & Julie Sherwood, her joy and gratitude have deepened for the opportunity to share the gifts of love, light, and music with the world.