California songwriter Corinne West is a poet, a tunesmith, a visionary and an utterly stellar performer. Her music evokes the eternal stories of mystic troubadours, while speaking with power and grace to a modern audience. She is equal parts angel and outlaw, delicate and fierce. Her skillfully-crafted songs reflect strength, discerning optimism and a true love for the human experience. To listen is to free fall though an aural dreamscape emblazoned with lush vocals and pristine guitar. KLCC Arts and Culture host Eric Alan, hails West as “of the finest singer/songwriters of the age.”
In her new album “Starlight Highway,” West gives a respectable nod to the Americana style of her early recordings, while boldly moving forward with a fresh perspective and an ever-evolving sound. The album, which West produced in its entirety, features finessed string work, elegant harmonies and a profuse lyricism that weaves imagery of water, sky and light with themes of transcendence, renewal and grace. This intimate recording suggests a sense of completion and a patient receptivity for whatever lies ahead. Guitarist Kelly Joe Phelps contributed as co-writer on some of the tracks. “Starlight Highway” has received rave reviews globally including The Daily Telegraph, UK selecting the album as one of the top records in 2016. “Starlight Highway” is West’s fifth album. Her previous recordings are “Bound for Living” (2004), “Second Sight” (2007), “The Promise” (2008) and “Magnetic Skyline” (2010).
West’s formative years were spent on what she refers to as a "complete choose-your-own education adventure.” Inspired by iconic artists the likes of Crosby, Stills Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, X, Sam Cooke, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday and Jackson Brown, she left home at 15 with guitar in hand and traveled around the country in a converted school bus, as a young member of a nomadic community of counter-culture peace activists. Some of her earliest performance experiences were busking at stops along the way. After three years, West left the road and moved to Los Angeles, where she sang in punk and rock bands. When she was 20, she headed to the High Sierras to focus on songwriting, art and the study of anthropology and mythology. It was here she opened The Art Studio that specialized in custom glass and metal installations. She ultimately decided to pursue music exclusively, closed her studio and moved to San Francisco to launch her independent label MAKE records, while submerging into the city’s vibrant music scene.
West and her band “The Bandits” have toured extensively throughout North America and abroad. She has performed at prestigious venues and festivals across the globe, including the Woody Guthrie Festival, Shrewsbury Festival, Bergenfest, High Sierra Music Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, Grassroots Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival, where she was a New Folk Competition finalist, one of many accolades she’s received over the years. Corinne has also brought her music into prisons, women’s shelters, hospitals for terminally ill children, and those in rehab centers.
While West has firmly established herself in the acoustic scene, she has also made her mark in the alternative folk-rock arena. In her innovative project, “Fire is a Phoenix,” she unleashes her inner rock goddess, floating ethereal vocals over ominous rhythms to create a compelling mélange of tension and mystery. Her song “Change My Ways,” was on the Starbucks National playlist in October 2015 and was also featured for a month on the primetime season two trailer for the HBO series “The Leftovers.”
West’s creative reach extends to both the visual and healing arts. A 77-piece collection of her original works in monoprint, Chine-collé and mixed media was recently featured at the Plumas County Arts Commission in Quincy, CA.
Corinne is also a certified alchemical hypnotherapist and specializes in helping people remove internal blocks that obscure their path, or creative process. Her approach, both in individual sessions and workshops, include Creative Trance and exercises applicable for poets, songwriters, visual artists and writers, and those working outside of the creative fields. Through the therapeutic process of light hypnosis, Corinne’s work empowers people to move through internal obstacles, by tapping into the innate abundance of riches and wisdom within of each individual.
If there is a bedrock for West’s artistic pilgrimage, it is connectivity, not so much to any individual fixed experience but to something bigger. In her words, “Regardless of what you’re doing, the sun sets and the moon rises in predictable, dependable ways, with an exquisite, divine consistency. To be able to have trust and lean into that is also to be able to lean into our place on the planet and ultimately the unfolding of our life experience.”