"I may work with other people for the rest of my life. I want to prove
myself away from Ain't Helen. It's kind of like being 18 and leaving the house;
although, I'm not leaving the house I'm just going to 'college.' "
- singer/songwriter/musician Tracy Walker in 1997
Prophetically, Tracy Walker is now a college graduate. On April 10, Walker
disbanded the 5-year-old original Folk/Rock group Ain't Helen, setting upon
a path of solo musical discoveries soon to result in Naked, her first solo recording
on Gallimaufry Records.
Along the way, Walker has fortified her penchant for delivering simple, ironic
lyrics against a backdrop of likewise simple and melodic music. Adhering to
the philosophy that growth emerges from experimentation, Walker continues to
share local stages with musicians as disparate as New Orleans/Boogie-Woogie
pianist/vocalist Ricky Nye and Blues guitarist/vocalist Kelly Richey.
"I think I'll always be this hodgepodge, stylistically,'' Walker says
of her musical forays. But, I think I'm headed toward a style that shows musically,
but allows my voice to be where it should be. "I don't think my guitar
playing is my forte. I think my voice is my forte," she says. "Certain
arrangements of songs and certain band formations have not allowed that to be
However, critics and judges have rewarded what fans have known all along: Walker,
new in many respects to the mostly Blues and cover band local music scene, has
a soaring alto voice that demands attention. Walker beat out stiff competition
to be named Best Singer/Songwriter in the 1997 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards
sponsored by Cincinnati CityBeat, the city's leading weekly newspaper of arts
and issues. Ironically, near the end of its existence, Ain't Helen was nominated
for a Cincinnati Enquirer Pop Music Award in the Alternative Rock Band category
with the likes of Monk former IRS recording artists Over the Rhine.
As for Walker's solo work, she says the solo categorization is a misnomer.
For the recording of Naked, Walker has enlisted bassist Tom Pistler, drummer
Aimee R. Huber and an assortment of Cincinnati-area Jazz and Blues musicians.
The disc will comprise two re-recorded Ain't Helen staples - "Friends and
Lovers" and "Would You Be Mine?" - set to different arrangements
and instrumentation. All other compositions will be original Walker tunes.
According to Walker, "Naked" is a perfect description of her current
musical state and therefore an apt title of her first recorded outing sans Ain't
Helen. "The reason 'Naked' is a good title is because I feel very exposed,
stepping out from what, for years, has been a very safe presentation. "Although
now I'm looked upon as a solo artist, I'd like to develop a band and not in
the way that Ain't Helen was,'' she says. "I'd like to put together people
who are dedicated and who are not trapped in one style and not only willing,
but driven, to do more than they already do."
In short, Walker seeks like-minded people unafraid to get naked with her.
Additional info can be found at tracywalker.com