GLENDALE -- People spend their Sundays in different ways. Some go to
church and visit family and friends; others run errands and get ready for
the week ahead. Carol Tatum has spent the last eight hours in her
Glendale home feverishly working, with no breaks.
Her job? Music. In this case, composing new songs for her band, Angels
of Venice. The group has just returned from a tour of the Northwest,
finishing up with some local dates. They will shortly head back out, this
time to the East Coast, all in support of their debut album for Windham
Hill Records, the self-titled “Angels of Venice.”
“I’m excited, because it’s our first trip back East to play as a
group,” she says. “We’re part of the label’s ‘Winter Solstice’ tour, with
David Arkenstone, Liz Story and Sean Harkness, and it’s going real well.
Unfortunately, space is limited on the bus, so we’re just a trio for now.
It’s just myself, Joanne Paratore on keyboards and Susan Craig-Winsburg
“Maybe we’ll get to go out on our own with the full group.”
The Angels can grow to eight in number, but in actuality, the group is
a vehicle for Tatum’s very eclectic music. She is the only one signed to
the label, the music and arrangements are hers, and she handles all of
the production chores. But she doesn’t look at the other players as hired
“They have input, and I wouldn’t want to work with any others,” she
In fact, the next album will feature a composition by pianist
Paratore. Tatum, who is originally from Dallas, Texas, began playing
stringed instruments at 7, and the current album features her on Celtic
harp, mandolin, Irish bouzouki, hammered dulcimer, acoustic guitar and
She has spent a good portion of her life studying medieval music, and
it has played a large role in her composing and arranging. Because she is
so attuned to the Renaissance period, sometimes it is difficult to tell
whether an Angels’ tune is a Tatum original or a 14th century
Her choices of songs to cover from modern tunesmiths are equally
eclectic. They include George Harrison, Mick Jagger and Yusuf Islam,
formerly known as Cat Stevens. Not exactly a medieval group of writers.
The Angels have generally been placed in the New Age music genre,
though their music has medieval, Middle Eastern, neo-classical and
“Categories aren’t necessary to feel the art,” she says with a laugh.
“But the record store clerk needs to point you in some direction to find
Her own description of the music? “Probably world.”
The path to Windham Hill plays like a Hollywood movie. After starting
in the early ‘90s playing the Venice boardwalk, Tatum and the group soon
began playing benefits and other media events, eventually recording two
independently released CDs, the first on a $250 budget.
Their name is a reflection of those days, when fans would say, “look,
it’s the angels again.”
Then one day, out of the blue, there was a phone call.
“It was Windham Hill,” says the harpist. “They said we had managed to
cut through all the submissions, and that they loved our music. They
wanted us on the label.”
The album is doing extremely well. It has spent months high on the New
Age charts, and everywhere the Angels play, the reaction is, well,
“We’re in the widest possible market we could be in,” Tatum says.
“Children, adults, families, seniors, they all seem to like it. They all
listen with their hearts. After all, music is the universal language. I
love it when we’re playing somewhere like CityWalk, where we can really
connect with people in an intimate way. It’s nice to play the big halls,
but nothing can replace that intimacy.”
The biggest change in Tatum’s life will perhaps take place in the next
few weeks, when she completes her home studio.
“I’ve always composed on a pair of $20 tape recorders,” she says, “but
in my head I’ve always heard all 48 tracks. I just couldn’t put it down
fast enough. Now, I’ll be able to.” She laughs again.
“It’s a little scary, this unleashing of the muse, which is like
oxygen to my lungs. But at least it won’t require 48 recorders!”
THE ANGEL FILE
WHO: Angels of Venice
LATEST CD: “Angels of Venice” on Windham Hill Website:
LIVE PERFORMANCE: Carol Tatum will perform solo harp music at CityWalk
Friday and Thursday, Dec. 30, between 6 and 9 p.m. in front of Wolfgang