Local singer/songwriter Teresa Kolo hasn’t got much body modesty. She’s not exactly an exhibitionist, but she was proud to pose wearing not a great deal for the cover of her new album “Brave Girl,” which came out Valentine’s Day.
“I have worked hard on my body,” Kolo said. “I'm past 40 and, for the first time ever, I am proud of my physical form. I wanted to celebrate that and say ‘hell yeah!’ I'm going to be better every year.”
She added streamers from Seattle’s St. James Cathedral to her photo as well. “I was thinking about two components of showing up completely-- the physical form combined with our spiritual nature,” she said. “I lived across the street from the Cathedral and found it a beautiful and comforting space.”
She also backed up the “brave” concept one other way—the CD tray photo shows hands holding a snake up close to the camera. That’s her as well. Her hands anyway. She was on a camping trip with nephew and her ex-husband (their first major outing since their divorce) at Texas’ Enchanted Rock, and remarked in passing that she’d like to see a snake.
About an hour later, falling asleep against her backpack, she felt something move under one knee. This turned out to be a five-foot-long gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer) often mistaken for a rattlesnake.
“It was magical,” Kolo said. “Like God, or the universe, has an amazing and generous sense of humor. Saying, ‘I hear you Sweetpea, here's your snake... So my ex is a biologist and we picked up the snake, took pictures and sent it on its way…the favorite day of my life so far.”
Kolo grew up in Houston, where she recalls a “very suburban life” that left her feeling frustrated, trapped. She took solace in “Wild America” on PBS, nursing her lifelong love of animals.
She also dove into the joys of music. Her father, she remembers, dug blues, Mexican music and Ray Charles. Her older brother and sister brought in Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark and Dana Cooper.
At age 11, she got “a few guitar lessons and a bad guitar.” But she didn’t begin to write in earnest until her early twenties. She cites Joan Armatrading for her songwriting and distinctive, low-range female voice; and Bruce Springsteen, plus all the artists she absorbed in her youth.
A Houston club called McGonigel's Mucky Duck hosts a regular open mic, so she started in there, using it to leverage dedicated bookings at other venues.
Her husband was a “decent guitar player” and taught her a great deal of guitar technique.
She misses the great songwriters of Texas, but Seattle, where she moved to take a job, has more skilled musicians, in her experience.
“I miss the sun....a lot,” she said. “However, people in Seattle have been incredibly generous with helping me in all things creative. I love the people here and the natural beauty -- I mean, until the big earthquake comes and swallows us all up.”
She cut much of “Brave Girl” back in Texas, criss-crossing the map whenever she had some money. Asked whether lyrics or music come first, she says some of both.
“I typically look for a melody and chord structure and add the lyrics onto that,” she said. “The lyrics come easy.
“My playing has developed into more of an aggressive approach, and the material of my songs has evolved to include serious and adult topics. But with a sense of humor.”
Asked for future plans with the CD release, Kolo says she’d love to play Conor Byrne, Hattie’s Hat, and any brewpub which will have her.
“I finally am at the point,” she says, “where I understand that what I have to offer is worthy and adds value.”