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Your backstage pass to Northeast Ohio's independent music scene.

Shuffle: Cleveland Musician Uno Lady Creates One-Woman Choir Out of a Suitcase

Cleveland’s Christa Ebert utilizes a microphone, mixer and electronic effects pedals to create a solo “ghost choir,” or lush layers of her vocals interwoven together, as the dynamic, one-woman project, Uno Lady.

The result is an eclectic blend of husky, a cappella jazz singing with doo-wop, pop and folk vocal elements that meld together to create a cohesive sonic collage.

Earning an Akron Soul Train fellowship
Akron Soul Train awarded Uno Lady with a fellowship, making her one of the organization’s November residents.

The nonprofit provides resources to local creatives to hone their skills and perform new works for the community at the conclusion of their residencies.

Ebert will conduct a special performance as Uno Lady during Akron Soul Train’s 2018 Winter SOULstice event at Jilly’s Music Room Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. 

'Instead of overplaying and playing out way too much to raise all this money, I can just focus on creating.'

Uno Lady performs out of a couple of vintage suitcases where her mixer board and pedals are stored.

“This is my second podium I created — it’s an invention of mine,” Ebert said. “It’s a vintage suitcase that expands with a scissor lift, and it has little hooks so that it can be at waist level so I can twirl the knobs and do things my feet can’t do with the pedals.”

The musician sings into a microphone and carries her vocals through several effects pedals. Then, the sound is run through a loop pedal.

She captures this existing sound, records over it, then records over it several more times to create a dense aural experience created solely out of the words and notes she sings.

Concluding her AST residency
Ebert said earning the Akron Soul Train fellowship has been beneficial for her as a solo artist, as it has allowed her the opportunity to take time off work to focus on her art, receive a stipend and gain access to resources that have allowed her to create a new body of work.

“So instead of overplaying and playing out way too much to raise all this money, I can just focus on creating,” Ebert said. “I’m grateful for the support they give me.”

Through the project, she plans to increase the reach and depth of her performances and invest in new equipment to better engage with the Greater Akron community.

Her performance at the end of the Akron Soul Train residency will include a visual aspect as well.

Ebert said she purchased a camera and plans to obtain a projector to layer footage of nature and her time spent visiting National Parks on a screen to match her songs.

“I hope that has a transportive, meditative effect on the audience,” Ebert said.

The final performance as an Akron Soul Train resident will take place Feb. 8 at Akron Recording Company.

Improvising aspects of her performance  
Ebert’s live performances as Uno Lady weave listeners into a web of sound and include improvisational elements, as many of her sonic creations are developed on the spot.

She develops many of her songs in the moment for the audience, sending her live vocals through pedals and into a loop station where she can then record and layer each piece to build out an entire song.

Uno Lady is an https://youtu.be/Mn44prL5Hsw" target="_blank">EarthQuaker Devices featured artist and is unmistakable in her innovative use of effects pedals and her whimsical, eclectic rig setup.

She has played out across local DIY venues, libraries, museums and even inside freight elevators, pushing the boundaries of art and music with each performance.

'I hope that has a transportive, meditative effect on the audience.'

Evolving as a musician
Ebert is a self-taught musical artist. She grew up singing in choirs and became part of the Northeast Ohio music scene first as an attendee and avid listener of local bands.

She felt she needed to have her own outlet musically and creatively, and she began working on her craft at home alone. She taught herself how to use Logic Pro on a computer and soon began layering her own vocals.

Ebert was eventually asked to play a live show, and it was then she began experimenting with layering her vocals through different pedals.

“As I started to play, I realized I wanted to make it more engaging for the audience,” Ebert said. “So I started to loop and get a loop pedal and started to do more compositions that could be created right in front of the audience.”

Working on tracks for an upcoming release
Ebert has new material ready for an upcoming Uno Lady record. She is shopping around her album, “Osmosis,” to various labels.

Her prior releases include “Amateur Hour,” Taco Cat” and “I Really Like Genetics but I’d Rather Have a Good Time.”

Ebert will perform as part of the 2018 Panza Foundation Benefit at The Happy Dog in Cleveland Nov. 30.

Expertise: Audio storytelling, journalism and production
Brittany Nader is the producer of "Shuffle" on Ideastream Public Media. She joins "All Things Considered" host Amanda Rabinowitz on Thursdays to chat about Northeast Ohio’s vibrant music scene.