Courtney Yasmineh has been writing songs and performing for most of her life, however her path to becoming a full time musician is a unique and inspiring one.
Yasmineh always dreamed of pursuing a music career, as a teenager in Chicago she ran away from home at the age of 17 to play up in the bars up in Dylan country in Northern MN. She even had early airplay on a song on Duluth radio at a station that had recorded of her doing one of her own songs live at a folk concert. She got a full scholarship to Macalester in St. Paul and married the guitar player in her back up band.
Divorced a year later and not feeling ready to roll the dice on a full time career in music just yet, she took jobs in teaching and advertising. Yasmineh kept playing music at night to keep the spirit of her passion alive. Another marriage followed and then three kids arrived. While raising her family, she released four albums independently but didn’t have the time to properly support those releases. Wanting to finally go “all-in” on her career she turned to her husband for his support who remarked “you would have made it by now if you were any good.” She finally had enough and cut bait on her husband and moved to New York City to fearlessly give it her all with nothing left to lose and no reason not to.
“You can wait and watch and hope for permission forever and never get it,” Yasmineh remarked. “At some point you have to learn that your own permission is all you need.”
Now 54 years old, Yasmineh feels like timing is finally right for her music to be heard, and most importantly supported by her. Courtney Yasmineh’s forthcoming album, Red Letter Day, arrives on June 2nd.
“When I was at SXSW in 2014, my band and I made a hotel room rehearsal video that everybody liked a lot,” Yasmineh commented. “My longtime colleague Charley Drayton contacted me saying he’d love to work on something new with us. I wasn’t planning to make another album at that moment. But this time forces beyond us came together and suddenly there was an apartment deal I couldn’t pass up in NYC and recording time at a studio in SoHo, and all the guys were excited, and Charley was going to be in town…so in August we made the album all in eight days in New York.”
Yasmineh had over fifty ideas for songs and recorded them on her phone, some with the help of the other guys credited on the record. But when she got to New York, it felt like a whole new chapter of life was beginning for her.
“Many of the song ideas just weren’t powerful enough for our exciting circumstances,” Yasmineh added. “So I wrote every night and every morning and all day at the studio just putting it together the best way I could. ‘Misfits and Losers’ makes me happy because it reminds me of so many funny experiences we’ve had as a rock band on tour. There are those moments when we are surrounded by some pretty weird and colorful characters. The chorus ‘these aren’t our people, it’s not our problem, get us out of here, sneak out the back door..these aren’t our people, this ain’t our party, get us out of here, try to hide, try to hide’ is our own band-on-the-run experience.
With the help of all the players involved, we were able to express what I was feeling about it being my ‘Red Letter Day.’ A day that you write in red and circle on your calendar for it’s importance, and in this case, it was eight days that were magical and fun and challenging and that have given us the gift of this music to share and to perform live. I am finding this to be the most rewarding album I’ve ever made.”
‘Cleaning Crew’ is the song I wrote locked in my bedroom, mad as hell, writing with my acoustic guitar just like I’ve done since I was twelve years old because of something my Mom did. This time it was the summer of 2014, and my Mom is still trying to help me out..still trying to clean me up and make her bad-girl daughter a model citizen. I was putting my house on the market so I could get enough money to start touring in earnest, and my Mom decided she would hire a cleaning crew to come in and help ‘stage’ my house so it would sell better. I, being the perpetual adolescent I can be, got really upset seeing them moving my stuff around. I grabbed my guitar and locked myself in my bedroom and wrote this song. The line ‘first you took me under your wing, then you got me under your thumb’ sort of goes out to everyone who got a little too much expectation going with me. This song sneaks up on me when we perform it live. I get really emotional when we get to the bridge ‘see myself through your eyes, no one I recognize..you were always there for me, but you can’t see where this is going..’ That’s emancipation talk.
Courtney Yasmineh will begin the promotion of her new album with a string of tour dates in Austin, TX this month. The future is bright again for Yasmineh, and she’ll celebrate Red Letter Day by touring it the rest of this year and beyond…
RED LETTER DAY – TRACK LISTING
- Get it
- Cleaning Crew
- Friend Of Mine
- Red Letter Day
- Change Your Mind
- Misfits And Losers
- Stupid With Your Love
- Hang On For The Ride
- My Baby’s Eyes
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