Classically trained with a twangy twist

Halle Ford was about 4 years old when she held her first violin. By the time she was 8, the Kentucky-raised violinist got the attention of a Louisville concertmaster.

About 30 years later, Ford is celebrating the release of her very first album, "Pretty Girl," which capitalizes on her classical training but incorporates a youthful, pop sound.

No stranger to the stage, the 36-year-old has performed at Laguna Beach's Marine Room Tavern, the Hotel Café in L.A. and the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, among others.

Ford recorded the entire album at home with the help of her husband, Matt, who contributed on guitar, bass and drums.

Instead of going with a label, the two started their own publishing group, Smelly Spaceship Publishing. They said it's aptly named after their studio that seems to trap odd odors from the house in the foam walls.

The couple met while in college; he was in jam rock band Rudy the Rabbit and she was a self-proclaimed groupie. The two married in Crystal Cove in October 2009.

A classically trained violinist, Ford never anticipated she would take a more commercial route.

"When you're a classical musician you get pegged into thinking that commercial isn't cool," she said.

However, it was working alongside Charlotte Martin, a well-known singer-songwriter, that finally pushed Ford to actualize her idea.

"I was so inspired by her that I wanted to write pop songs myself," she said.

In 2003, Ford and her husband moved from Venice Beach to Laguna Beach, only intending to stay for a short while.

"We came here just to try it," she said. "Now I'd rather die than leave."

Although walking along Diver's Cove is a favorite pastime, Ford admits that the places that inspire her most involve a different, smaller body of water.

"I think of my best stuff in front of the kitchen sink — it's the smells, washing dishes, cooking," she said.

A close second is the shower.

She also credits her day job as a product manager of the technology division at Aon Hewitt for keeping her mind and creativity sharp.

Ford graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a degree in systems analysis and a minor in mathematics.

Reading Web reviews, Ford can't help but be excited with the response.

"Pretty Girl," which is hard to describe in a few adjectives, has a twangy sound that can jump between country, folk and alt-rock. One sound stays constant: her violin.

"The biggest compliment people pay us is that the songs are really diverse on the record," she said.

The more poppy songs on the record, such as the title track, were written as far back as 2005. She believes the album will take listeners on a journey, a progression from light-hearted youth to the more serious contemplations of a wife and a soon-to-be mother.

Ford is due to have a baby girl in June.

The couple was planning on touring but now has to come up with some alternative ways to promote their album with the baby on the way, such as YouTube videos.

Ford said that while some musicians start out doing cover songs, she's just getting to them.

She has recorded herself singing covers from rap all the way to heavy metal, which she plans to post on YouTube.

The couple is also already working on the next album. They wouldn't give too much away about it just yet.

"We're heading in the direction where we put more electronic instrumentation," she said. "It's a reflection of our surroundings."

She urges fans to check her website and join her mailing list to hear about any surprise performances that may be on the way.

To hear Halle Ford's music, visit

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