Cali-soul is the term Samantha Stollenwerck uses to describe her sound: a unique blend of soulful pop rock that has landed her on bills with the likes of Dave Matthews Band and Ziggy Marley. “Cali-Soul is folk, R&B, Americana and rock and pop music all mixed up,” Samantha explains. “I grew up in San Diego, where ‘culture’ meant rapping Spanglish with locals and reading Surfer Magazine. The only music scene I was exposed to was my friends’ punk bands that played in the empty lots around my high school due to the recession at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but I had to discover Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers, gospel and blues on my own, since everybody I was hanging out with was into Blink and Buck-O-Nine.” Samantha fuses the elements of catchy songwriting and funky undertones with a fresh west coast vibe of rock and roll to create a style all her own.
Samantha’s first CD purchase was Madonna’s Like a Virgin. “I didn’t even know what a virgin was back then and had to ask my dad,” she admits. “He was, like, ‘Samantha, a virgin is a child that comes to Earth on a shooting star.’ ‘It is?’” she remembers replying incredulously.
She picked up the guitar on the beaches of San Diego in high school, influenced by the surf punk scene that dominated the North County. Having spent summers on the East Coast and being exposed to rock bands like the Black Crowes, Samantha’s musical mentoring hasn’t been the same since. “Something in the voice of Chris Robinson affected me and I changed for good. I just can’t believe that I found something kinda like that in me, and probably will never understand it,” says Stollenwerck.
Samantha formed her first band, Shady Lady, while in college at University of California at Berkeley in 1999. She quickly gained attention in San Francisco with the support of KFOG radio and key slots at venues such as the Fillmore and Shoreline Amphitheater. Samantha has toured extensively over the past 8 years and has graced the stages at festivals such as Bonnaroo, South by Southwest and Austin City Limits Music Festival. When touring, Samantha usually rocks with a full band yet takes the time to play intimate solo acoustic sets to connect with her fans.
In November 2009, Samantha released her latest CD, Carefree, with producer, Jeff Trott, best known for his collaborations with Sheryl Crow. (Jeff penned several of Crow’s hit songs such as Everyday is a Winding Road and If it Makes You Happy and toured with Crow as her guitar player for over a decade.) Samantha and Jeff’s chemistry in the studio created the opportunity for Samantha’s authentic voice and personality to resonate through in her songs.
Samantha also collaborated with songwriter Danielle Brisebois who is credited with several hit songs including Natasha Bedingfield’s singles, Unwritten and Pocket Full of Sunshine. Samantha rounded out her record by bringing aboard Grammy Award-winning mixer, Manny Marroquin (who collaborates with Alicia Keyes, Usher and Kanye West) to bump up the grooves and add the unique sound that Carefree delivers.
MIX Magazine gave the independently-released CD high praise: “At times, Stollenwerck’s style recalls Tuesday Night Music Club-era Sheryl Crow, with a sort of earthy folk charm that occasionally veers into rock and R&B, and obviously personal songs that are still easy to connect with.”
Samantha maintains a busy tour schedule, performing up and down the California coast and gracing stages of summer festivals in Virginia, California, Colorado, South Carolina and more. Her performances in the Bay Area have won her a loyal fan base and earned her a slot on the KFOG local scene compilation album along with support from San Francisco Magazine, chosen as one of its Top 5 Bay Area Artists to Watch. She also was featured as a Datebook cover story in the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the Mill Valley Herald, “Samantha is the next voice of California!” A performance at the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas yielded comparisons to legendary singers, Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin.
“People always try to compare me to Janis since I have this really raspy voice, plus I live in San Francisco so all the older hippies love that analogy,” Samantha shares. “Joni was a big reason I picked up the guitar in the first place, but I would never compare my style of music to hers; she’s in a class of her own. A Case Of You is one of the strongest songs I’ve ever heard.”
Samantha hopes to collaborate someday with role models, Van Morrison, Warren Haynes, OutKast and Lauryn Hill.
Attendees at The WE Conference™ will resonate with Samantha’s inspiring lyrics, heartfelt music and soulful voice.
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