New Beginnings

Santa Rosa solo artist Eki Shola has always used her music as a conduit for love and healing. Working on her keyboard, and backed by digital effects, the two-time Norbay Award winner for electronica crafts jazzy, ambient tones with ethereal melodies that often carry dreamlike messages of hope and a sense of gratitude for life.

In the aftermath of the Tubbs fire that destroyed Shola’s home, she turned to music, and this week debuts a new album, Possible, with a concert on Feb. 22 at the dhyana Center in Sebastopol.

“Everything burned,” says Shola. Even the contents inside her fireproof safe were incinerated. She decided to forego trying to recreate her recorded songs and instead used donated instruments and a new laptop to track down and rework old samples and bits of music she found in her emails and online correspondents going back more than a decade.

“My motto is ‘Work with what you have,'” she says. “I got these snippets and played with them, sampled them and built out entirely different songs from them.”

After writing more than 60 songs, she decided to release a trilogy of records she calls Pieces, beginning with Possible.

“There was a flow amongst the three albums,” she says. Possible represents Shola’s raw in-the-moment emotions in the months after the fires. The planned second record, Drift, is a meditation on loss and memory that layers together ambient effects and vocals. “That’s where my music evolved to,” she says. “Creating a cocoon that is melodic and soft and comforting.”

The final record, Essential, finds Shola taking stock post-fire and asking, “Now what?”

For the upcoming Possible album-release event, Shola hosts a family-friendly party featuring Michael Fortunato on horns, live visual artist Dirt E Bill, Forestville electronic artist Lenkadu, and members of California HOPE on hand for counseling outreach.

“This community has been amazing in terms of support post-fires,” says Shola. “This is my little way of saying thank you to everybody.”

Eki Shola performs on Friday, Feb. 22, at dhyana Center, 186 Main St.,
Ste. 240, Sebastopol. 7:30pm. Free;
all ages.

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