What a long strange trip its been for vocalist/songwriter Cee Cee James whose recent release â€œLOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWLâ€ is chock full of a total and complete life shifting journey she began in 2001 as her numb struggling existence got pulled into a vortex of change that lasted seven years.
Born as Christina James in the great fertile Northwest of Portland Oregon among the tall fir trees, full rivers and beautiful moist green landscape, Cee Cee's Mother was forced to move the family to California when Cee Cee was five years old. At 12 years old she had put together her first band and performed at the local church with a blond wig and bright green eye shadow. Throughout the coming years she was in and out of rock/blues, cover/original bands and formed her first original blues band, Stone Blue in San Diego in the mid-90's. By the late 90's she honed her song writing skills even more and began recording song demo's in San Diego and Los Angeles and in late 1999 her first CD, "Spiritually Wet," was released.
After a sad divorce in 2001, and the loss of her 2nd Partner to cancer in early 2004, she bid her long time Southern California musicians farewell, and by December had sold her house and was driving herself back to Portland, OR to metaphorically be born again, stepping into her true self as a woman and human being.
Feeling the continual push from her fans for a new CD, Cee Cee had planned to immediately begin writing and recording when she got settled. By April of 2005 she had put together a strong band of stellar Portland musicians who very quickly began to get into some of the best blues clubs Portland had to offer. However, the studio sessions for â€œLOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWLâ€ would continue to be out of Cee Ceeâ€™s reach until late 2007 after yet another move even further North into Washington State where the intense spinning vortex of change finally let go of her life and â€œLOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWLâ€ began to take shape.
Like the green moist Northwest where she was born and now come home to, â€œLOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWLâ€ is rich and full of soul provoking lyrics set into contemporary roots and blues based musical landscapes inspired by Rob â€œSlideboyâ€ Andrews, Cee Cee's songwriting partner and husband. Rob "Slideboy" Andrews cut his musical path playing bass in the Bay area for 35 years as a sideman for Filmore Slim, Luther Tucker and many other deeply traditional blues lineups. He set the bass down when he married Cee Cee and began playing rhythm and slide guitar where his previously untapped natural songwriting skills began to come through.
Cee Ceeâ€™s production, arranging skills, and talents were honed and sharpened in the writing and recording of her highly touted late 1999 pop/funk release â€œSPIRITUALLY WET,â€ where she worked side by side with Los Angeles based producer Kaylene Peoples and mixing engineer Rich Mouser. "SPIRITUALLY WET" won the 2000 Los Angeles R&B Independent Artist of the Year Award and is full of contemplative lyrics set to "feel good," track heavy, "ear candy" music that dives lyrically into many of the subjects that Cee Cee will always feel passionate about. Freedom to be who you are and letting other people be who they are without judgments or condemnations; the benefits of positive and negative experiences in life; challenging the rules and restrictions we place upon our souls; the questions behind the hunger for love; natures reciprocation in love and in our creative paths; how change in ones personal life has a world wide affect; and how we really don't need to worry about where we are going, as we are always guided to where we need to be and go for our soul's growth.
As a result of the invaluable studio experience with "SPIRITUALLY WET," Cee Cee had a heavy hand in the writing, production and arranging on â€œLOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWL," which has been described by Don Wilcock, Editor In-Chief of BluesWax.com as "an undiscovered classic with massive crossover potential." â€œLOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWL" expresses that seven year chapter of change and includes a huge shift away from the pop and funk she had been previously writing and recording on â€œSPIRITUALLY WET.â€ Hiking on Cowels Mountain in Santee, CA outside of San Diego in the late Spring of 2001, Cee Cee says "I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan whispering to me from the Heavens... "Go back to your roots girl.. go back to what you do best," which I intuitively knew was the blues, low-down roots and soul." Beginning with the sad angst of lost love in the first song and title track, to the final victorious tribute about the man she lost to cancer in â€œSpirit of the Shaman,â€ "LOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWL" weaves Cee Cee's stark, vulnerable, and revealing lyrics, around her Cherokee roots and her life changing relationship with the desert.
Cee Ceeâ€™s soul and artistic influences are all over the map. â€œRaw and Real,â€ is her criteria. â€œOut of the box," as she calls it. â€œPerformances, music and lyrics that push the envelope of the soul straight down into the gut of life.â€ Howling Wolf, Big Mamma Thornton, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Stevie Ray Vaughan; then dippinâ€™ into the soul of things - Mavis Staples, Ike and Tina Turner, Bill Withers, Ray LaMontagne, Chris Whitley; and of course the funk - James Brown, Prince and everything in-between; with a recent discovery which she finds 'amazingly stellar,' JJ Grey and Mofro. Cee Cee feels them all and itâ€™s obvious in her â€˜low down and grittyâ€™ performances where as she says, â€œMy thing is... in all my writing, singing and performance is to make the songs come alive for people. To open up the mind, heart and soul with the fire of an intense gut wrenching performance full of vulnerability, honesty and truth. What else am I up on that stage for?" Cee Cee does just that and more, inspiring strong CD sales with her intense â€˜take no prisoner' performances where the audience climbs inside the deep ache and gut in every note she sings and evokes on stage.
â€œLOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWLâ€ is somewhat tame compared to the kind of energy Cee Cee and her band bring to the live stages they play, but the songs needed to be written after those seven years of intense change in order for her artistic soul to embrace and express the shift and move forward with the significance of those seven years defined by WikiAnswers as "7 signifies divinely determined completeness." Kyle Deibler, President of the Phoenix Blues Society, describes Cee Cee's process in this 'completion' perfectly: â€œCee Cee James writes songs from a place of emotional honesty that few artists care to reveal. The result is an intimate, sometimes guttural view of a woman who isnâ€™t afraid to face her demons and work out her lifeâ€™s lessons. This is definitely an excellent record from a female artist who isnâ€™t afraid to bare her soul. I applaud her for that.â€
Cee Cee is truly hitting her stride with â€œLOW DOWN WHERE THE SNAKES CRAWLâ€ receiving more and more live performance requests, a continually increasing fan base, CD sales, and radio play around the world with two of the cuts from the CD, â€œLove Makes Change,â€ and â€œIâ€™ll Ask the Questions You Tell the Lies,â€ currently being played on XM 74 - B.B. King's Bluesville which hit #10 and #7 on the XM 74 Charts. The CD held steady at #1 on the Washington Roots Charts for NINE WEEKS and peaked at #8 on the Overall Blues/Roots Charts and debuted at #15 on the March Living Blues Charts!
On May 8th, 2010, Cee Cee released "SERIOUSLY RAW - Cee Cee James - LIVE AT SUNBANKS," through FWG Records, specifically for her fans. "It was a wild and unbelievably hot and sweaty day, but my band was tight and the fans were off the hook! When I got the recording, I thought, 'this is it!' 'Cause my Fans had been hounding me for a CD like this for years! So I'm thrilled to release this CD for them." And as Al Lundy from KZUM 89.3 - Nebraska says... "Cee Cee James and her bands latest release was recorded live and is APPROPRIATELY entitled "SERIOUSLY RAW." This CD delivers 13 tracks of RAW EMOTION, with the RAW POWER of a diesel engine rolling over the Snoqualme Pass!"
Cee Cee will begin her first tour into Colorado in September and in February 2011 she heads to France and Germany! This is only the beginning and it's only going to get better, so watch for this 'VOCAL VOLCANO' to hit your area very very soon!