This Sunday, between 3-6 p.m., at the Church in Ocean Park, there will be a free, mother, daughter live set of 11 songs from Diane Michelle’s soon to be released album, “Blood Harmony.” The mother, Diane, describes it as “A combination folk, country, jazz, blues and ska.” Throughout her career, Diane resisted being “put into a bin,” being defined by one musical style, but jokingly acknowledges the worst bin is a “hasbin.” (If you’re groaning, that was her joke, not mine. If you’re laughing, maybe it was mine.)
The daughter, Nicole Andrews, born and raised in Santa Monica, went to S.M.A.S.H, Samohi, SMC and UCLA where she graduated summa cum laude in ethnomusicology. Nicole has been singing with her mother since age two. Diane says, “Remarkably, she had a natural ability to sing harmony and melody. So, at bedtime, we’d switch off with a made up song ‘Goonoomaloomoo.’” (Good night my love.)
At S.M.A.S.H., Diane was a volunteer and then paid choir teacher for 4 years. She also took over the S.M.A.S.H. Holiday Singers where the kids would perform holiday songs from all over the world at the Main Street Farmers Market, so adorably they were often a highlight of Ocean Park’s holiday festivities.
The dad of the family is Charles Andrews who writes Curious City and Noteworthy for the Daily Press and also wrote the liner notes for the album. All in all, they’re an amazingly talented family, that is if you don’t count Charles.
Even the band is a family affair. Connor Vance will play the violin and mandolin, while his father, Ron, will play stand up bass. Ed Munter will be on harmonica, Wes Starr on drums and John Reynolds on guitar. (Ben Peeler: pedal steel guitar, Richard Grigsby: electric bass, Niall Ferguson: cello, Larry Goetz: dobro, percussion, and Jason Pitts: acoustic, electric guitars, all of whom played on the album, are on tour.)
Blood Harmony is an hour long album of 23 songs Diane has written or co-written, starting when she was 14. However, as Charles writes in the liner notes, “She couldn’t have imagined that this album of her originals, five decades later would feature her daughter, Nicole, adding the secret sauce of ‘Blood Harmony,’ found only in the combination of shared genes and a lifetime of singing together.”
Fittingly, how Charles and Diane met in 1982 also involved music. He was writing for Music Connection magazine, covering a female singer at the Palomino Club in N. Hollywood. The problem (or blessing) was that Charles was more impressed with the backup singer… Diane!
Afterwards, he volunteered that, if she ever had a gig on her own, to call him. Two months later, he got a message at the office, mind you with only 4 hours notice, that she got that gig at At My Place, in Santa Monica.
Having a crush on Diane, Charles hurriedly rushed over. It definitely paid off because three years later they were married. And one year after that, they moved to Santa Monica and have been here for 33 years. (Going out on a limb, I’m guessing they’re going to stay.)
As with Nicole, Diane also began singing at age 2. At 12 she learned the guitar, and sang around the family piano with her mother while the rest of her family sang harmonies. Then she sang in choir at church and was made song leader in Girl Scouts. At 14 she began getting paid by singing at weddings and later at malls and various restaurants.
At 17 she and her partner, Marsha, performed at the Hollywood Bowl under the name “Marsha and Dian.” (Which some people mistakenly thought was referring to “the guy with the eye patch,” Moshe Dyan.)
Years later, Diane began a voice over career under the tutelage of Daws Butler. She quickly landed the role of Disney’s Daisy Duck, primarily because she could maintain her character voice while she sang. (She’s been doing voice over for a “mere” 36 years and has a truly remarkable resume.)
The family aspect to the album also has a moving back story. Two years ago, Charles’ son, Chris, from his first marriage, whom Diane helped raise since he was 12, died tragically at age 48. One very touching song, “It Is,” expresses Diane’s feelings about experiencing the devastating loss.
Given all the talent, the Church in Ocean Park show is bound to be terrific. The album already is. (Did I mention Charles wrote the liner notes?)
Lastly, I recommend you check out Diane’s website, but only if you have four hours to spare. I jokingly say that because it’s loaded with samples of her singing and her work in commercials, radio spots, promos, trailers and a few of her over 1000 characters. (Given my occasional confused brain, how does she keep them all straight?)
The Church in Ocean Park is at 235 Hill St. The show is this Sunday, June 9, from 3-6 p.m. Meter parking is available in the lot west of Main Street.
Diane’s website is at dianemichelle.com. If you hit the “more” tab, you can hear two samples from the album. The CD will be sold through CD Baby. Jack is at firstname.lastname@example.org.