Meet the Band: Diana Chittester (vocals, guitar)
Transplanted: Singer-songwriter Diana Chittester moved to Cleveland from Pittsburgh, and started playing open mic nights at places like the now-closed Winchester. She released her first EP in 2008 and followed that with 2012's In This Skin, which features local Cleveland blues musicians.
Suddenly Solo: Chittester has always performed solo but usually puts a band on her albums. And yet, fans would tell her that they couldn't hear her guitars on the records. So she decided to make a solo album. "The feedback I got was that the guitar playing wasn't shining through," she says. "I wanted to set aside the distractions." She launched a Kickstarter campaign in February and met her fundraising goal.
The Big Easy: Chittester had been shopping studios for quite a while when she happened upon Andrew "Goat" Gilchrist, who's known for his work with folk singer-guitarist Ani DiFranco. "Someone told me to find an album I really like," Chittester explains. "The song 'Evolve' is a solo acoustic song of Ani's that's great. I remember hearing her sound and thinking that it sounded like a band up there from just her guitar. I spent how many years trying to make that kind of impact. It's really hard." She tracked down the engineer, who was her former producer. "His initial response was so passionate. He wanted any form of the song, even if it was an iPhone. That was what I was looking for." Initially, she thought Gilchrist was in Buffalo, DiFranco's former home. But it turned out he was in New Orleans. He even suggested she find a studio closer to home, but she was convinced he was the guy for the job, so she headed to the Big Easy.
Why You Should Hear Her: Chittester's new album Find My Way Home reflects her newfound confidence as a solo artist. "The title track was the first song written and suggested the direction," she says. "There's some angst to it and I have been holding things back. It has that attitude." In the songs, she deals with her religious past. "I had to acknowledge when I came out to my family that there was some tension because of their religious beliefs," she says. "The songs deal with being angry about that. Reconciliation is on the album. And there are some breakup songs. I know better than to leave those off. Every good singer-songwriter has to have some breakup songs."
Where You Can Hear Her: dianachittester.com
Where You Can See Her: Diana Chittester performs with Ray Flanagan at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29, at the Beachland Tavern.