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May 2024
Vol. 23, No. 8

Featured Stories

Eve Selis’ Long Journey from Darkness to Light

by Wayne RikerMay 2024

Eve singing her heart out to a sold out crowd.

Singer/songwriter Eve Selis has much to share with the release of her latest CD, Dark Sky Blue, engineered and mixed by Alex Wong at Angelhouse South Studios in Nashville. A CD release concert will be held on Saturday, June 1st, at the Mt. Soledad Presbyterian Church in La Jolla. It will feature Selis’ band, a string quartet, and the Voices of Our City choir opening the festivities.

In April of 2017, her brother was killed in a shooting incident, which cast a dark shadow over Eve as she described in her own words: “After the devastating loss of my brother, I fell into the darkest place I’ve ever been in my life. I thought I would never sing again, I thought I would never find joy again…I thought I would die, too.”

That long six-year journey from darkness to light has graced Selis with a magnificent ten-track recording as she emoted about her long and winding healing process.

“It started with one breath at a time, one moment at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time,” Selis chronicled. “Music helped tremendously in my healing process. My therapist told me to get out and walk every day even if it was just ten steps. She told me to say, ‘I choose love and I see love everywhere.’ I didn’t believe it at first, but once I believed it, I started seeing love everywhere, heart shaped clouds, gum on the cement, and leaves on trees shaped like hearts. I started taking photos of them and now I literally have hundreds of hearts,” she concluded.

Eve and her husband, Tom Gulotta.

Selis and her husband, Tom Gulotta, had been talking about moving to Nashville for a while. When he got a job opportunity there, it opened up the door for Selis to connect with those in the music business as she reflected back. “Even though it was hard to leave my family and friends, let alone San Diego, I’m so grateful for the move. Without it, I never would have met my producer, Alex Wong, and created this album with him.”

Once Selis felt she could start creating again, she set her sights on a healing record as she noted, “These songs are the journey of my healing, many of them taken from my journaling and therapy notes,” she said. “This album is very different from anything I’ve recorded before. Not only is the focus on my healing but also as I told my producer, Alex Wong, if U2, Jeff Buckley, and Sara Bareilles had a baby, that’s what I want this record to sound like.

Speaking of the album, it’s a perfect example of how to arrange and orchestrate simply behind Selis’ self-therapeutic and healing lyrics, a tip of the cap to Wong in how he captures the depth and emotion behind Selis’ words without getting in the way with overproduction as her voice is front and center, channeling tender vocal echoes of Sarah McLachlan and the raw vocal power of Ann Wilson.

You’ll be brought to tears with the opening title track and first single off the CD, “Dark Sky Blue,” as you’ll hear the sorrow in Selis’ voice entering against a haunting repetitive middle C note on the piano, joined gradually by the mellifluous legato strings accompaniment from Gideon Klein and Josee Weigand. “Didn’t you know just how much all of us loved and adored you…what will it take to turn your dark sky blue.”

The second single off the album is “Grace,” which has Wong’s musical footprint everywhere as he provides the acoustic guitar parts, piano, and drums, opening with a lively syncopated 6/8 time groove on the skins behind Selis’ lyrical epiphany throughout. “Every dream that I surrendered was a stone you rolled away. I was sailing in the sunshine, now I’m dancing in the rain.”

“There Will Come a Time” is my personal choice for a future single with flowing guitar arpeggios and droning keyboard pedal tones complementing Selis’ voice, which builds toward the lush background vocal harmonies from Randi Driscoll and Kim McLean on the chorus, climaxing with dynamic motifs from virtuoso cellist, Dave Eggar. “There will come a time when every tear I’ve cried, will flow into a river of hope and carry me home.”

Wong strikes gold again in keeping things simple with just acoustic guitar and cello accompaniment in highlighting Selis’ voice on “Love Only Knows,” along with McLean harmonizing on the vocal choruses. “I’m ready to release the pain I’ve carried, I’m not drowning anymore…I see the light, I see the day, I see life like I never have before,” followed in similar fashion on the track, “I Choose Love.” “Maybe we’re all perfect as we are, Heaven’s candles in a field of stars, one heart, one dream, one answer to what heals us all…I choose love.”

Eve and Steve Poltz in Nashville.

McLean not only supplies background vocals on most of the tracks, but she also co-authored eight of the songs. Additionally, McLean is a prolific singer/songwriter in Nashville as well as a producer and author, currently teaching songwriting at Trevecca Nazarene University. As a teenager she dealt with an almost fatal struggle with an eating disorder that enabled her to share with Selis her own recovery and journey from darkness to light.

The reflective mood of the closing track, “Somebody’s Brother,” serves as a musical bookend to the opening track, feeling like you’ve just shared a mutual feeling of recovery with Selis as she notes universally in her muse: “We’ve all had pain, some of us get through, some of us break.” Whatever life’s journey you may be on, this CD will tug at your emotions, but it will also take you on a delightful musical experience unobtrusive of any orchestral distractions that get in the way of Selis’ eloquent vocal prowess,

Since the move to Tennessee in 2020, Selis has been splitting time between San Diego and Nashville. “It’s been a challenge to get paying gigs in Nashville. Unless you want to play downtown at the honky-tonks and sing covers, it’s hard to get consistent work,” she revealed. “There are tons of singers here with many of them willing to sing for free just for the exposure. Also, most of the people I love are in San Diego.”

Eve and her neice Lauren Leigh.

Selis recently played a concert at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, celebrating her niece, Lauren Leigh’s CD release. Omo Cloud, her kid’s band, opened the night with Selis’ band slotted in the middle followed by Lauren Leigh headlining. “We called it the Fam Jam, and when the Belly Up asked us to do it again this year, of course our answer was yes. There’s nothing like three-part harmonies sung by family. They are both so very talented! They are both great singers and great songwriters.”

Leigh has nothing but praise and respect for all that Selis has meant to her. “Eve has always been an inspiration to me. She wears her heart on her sleeve. What you see on stage is who she is in person, too. She sees love everywhere and is determined to spread it. Watching her as I grew up informed the better performance choices I make today. She was the perfect example of a powerful female songwriter and trailblazer in San Diego and I’m so proud she is my family.”

Eve chooses love.

The reality of fast-changing technology has kept many artists on their toes as to how they will market their brand as Selis weighed in on her thoughts. “I know that change is good, but it can also be quite painful. Growing up with records it was very difficult moving to CDs,” she stated, “but the whole world did it and the record labels were able to resell everything on vinyl in the new format again. But now going from CDs to online where the value of the music went from something you paid for willingly to support the artist to something that’s free has been hard. I used to be able to sell CDs at every show. Now most people don’t even have a CD player. So, unless they have one in their car or an old boombox, that is a piece of merchandise that no longer helps musicians continue to make their living through music. Because streaming is basically free, musicians have had to get creative with their merchandise producing t-shirts, hats, tote bags, jewelry, etc.,” she bemused.

Many can learn from Selis’ life and musical journey, especially those younger musical artists who can benefit from these didactic words of wisdom. “It’s hard to believe I’ve actually been living on this earth for 60 years. I’m so very grateful to still be here. It’s truly a blessing to say that I’m still a working musician. I think if you try to stay relevant, you’ll fail miserably, however, if you share your music from an open hearted, vulnerable, true place, your audience will find you. The songs you write in your 20s are not the same songs you write in your 60s because you’ve had 40 years of living in between. If I live to be as old as Tina Turner, I’ve got about 23 more years of music to share. I’m hoping for longer, but I’ll take what I can get. For now, I want to share my story, sing these new songs that have helped heal me through what felt impossible to heal through and hug as many people as I can. And as my dear friend, Kim McLean likes to say, ‘love ‘em with a song.’”

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