LaRhonda Steele’s musical journey started in Oklahoma where she sang a solo in church for the first time at age 13. LaRhonda is best known for her leadership of the Portland Oregon Interfaith Gospel Choir and for her collaborations with a variety of Portland blues, jazz and gospel groups. LaRhonda heads her own project, “The LaRhonda Steele Band,” and is also the mother of two daughters. In this episode we discuss surviving breast cancer with the support of her community, her musical beginnings in the church, and the challenges of raising two children while legally blind. I spoke to LaRhonda in my home office in Portland, OR in October of 2017.
When not on tour in faraway countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Japan, China Forbes lives in Portland, Oregon with her 9-year old son Cameron. Best known for her vocal work with the retro lounge band Pink Martini, China began her artistic career studying visual art at Harvard and later working as an Off-Broadway actress. She has also released two albums under her own name and is working on a third. China sings in 9 languages. In this episode we discuss her unusual upbringing in Boston, touring with Pink Martini, postpartum depression and her dreams for future projects. I spoke to China in my dining room in Portland, Oregon in December of 2017.
Singer-songwriter and Portland native Tahirah Memory developed a passion for music at a young age. With humble beginnings singing along to R&B records at home, Tahirah grew up to become a highly sought-after vocalist. She has collaborated with musical heavyweights including kd lang, Esperanza Spalding and her father, Grammy-winning trumpeter Thara Memory. Tahirah also recently released her debut album, “PRIDE”. Now age 38, Tahirah artfully maintains a strong relationship with her 12 year old daughter while dividing her time between creating music in Portland and touring as a backup singer. In this episode we discuss Tahirah’s upbringing in a musical household, single motherhood, and the support she receives from family and friends while out on lengthy tours. I spoke with Tahirah in my home office in Portland, Oregon in September of 2017.