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Blessed by an angel

Paul Andersen

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

on flute.”


She sighs.

“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

synth bass.

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

contemporary influences.

“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

the CD!”

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!”


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