Violet Bell’s original Americana is woven from threads of folk, soul, bluegrass, rock, and classical music. On stage and in the studio, the energy between Lizzy Ross and Omar Ruiz-Lopez is fiery, intimate and intuitive.
Based out of Durham, the pair have played more than 300 shows in just over two years, resulting in a strong onstage chemistry that’s evident in person and in videos of these live performances. The two share a mutual love of psychedelic music, rock, hip-hop and R&B that, through what Ross calls “mixing medicines,” finds its way into their traditionally rooted music.
“She’s a songwriter, I’m a composer and multi-instrumentalist, and our ability to meld those abilities and genres works well for us,” Ruiz-Lopez says. “The world of songwriting is a very interesting one as opposed to purely instrumental, ‘classical music.’ I feel like there’s an ability to have more space, so being able to combine those singer-songwriter qualities with orchestral technique allows me to create interesting textures around the message, and together they become one.”
Violet Bell’s momentum also radiates from the experience of recording their debut full-length album, Honey in My Heart, which is set for early 2019 release. Cut at the Fidelitorium in Kernersville in May 2018 with engineer Jason Richmond (Avett Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, Nneena Freelon, Dom Flemons, Bombadil, Shana Tucker), the songs were done live, without isolation or click tracks. Full of personality, Honey in My Heart feels consistent with the duo’s true selves as opposed to hidden behind studio wizardry.
In addition to crafting their own tunes, Ross and Ruiz-Lopez are both involved in music education in the Durham area, providing youths with songwriting, instrumental and vocal instruction as well as teaching them about the realities of life for professional touring artists. Violet Bell has worked with KidzNotes, the Wake Forest Community Youth Orchestra, the University of Mary Washington’s James Farmer Multicultural Fair, the Savannah Folk Music Society, and others to engage local communities of all ages in educational and inspiring performances and workshops.
This passion for education is rooted in a personal history of teaching. Ruiz-Lopez studied Music Performance and Music Education at Florida Gulf Coast University, and has taught with Durham nonprofit Kidznotes since 2010, including collaboration with artist such as Black Violin, Regina Carter, Shana Tucker, Zuill Bailey, Rhiannon Giddens, Sara Caswell, and others. Ruiz-Lopez began performing professionally in 2008 with acts such as Jonathan Byrd, Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends, Sinful Savage Tigers, and Chocolate Suede. Ruiz-Lopez has composed and performed several original pieces for the Durham Symphony Orchestra. His experience in orchestrating and arranging allows Violet Bell to perform with chamber and orchestral ensembles, expanding opportunities for partnership across the globe.
Lizzy Ross studied music and arts entrepreneurship at UNC Chapel Hill. Ross toured nationally with Lizzy Ross Band from 2009 -2013, and solo from 2013-2016. Ross has released three full-length albums of original music under her own name, been a two-time Kerrville New Folk finalist, and won Floydfest’s On the Rise contest, a Carolina Music Award, and an Emerging Artist Grant from the Durham Arts Council.
Since forming in March 2016, Violet Bell has been presented at venues and festivals such as Americanafest, WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, The Center for the Study of the American South, Rooster Walk Festival, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, Ocrafolk Festival, the Charleston Bluegrass Festival, the Festival for the Eno, the Beaufort Music Festival, the Burlington Carousel Festival, the Elizabeth City Potato Festival, Campfire Festival, Club Passim, the Rooster’s Wife, the Haw River Ballroom, Worsell Manor, Apex Peakfest, the Evening Muse, the Blue Plate Special, Folk Alliance International, and many more.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT VIOLET BELL…
“Ross channels the spirit of Eva Cassidy, and Ruiz-Lopez's violin performance is chocolate; one of the richest-sounding I have ever heard. A very beautiful canvas of earthy, acoustic music, with some of the best arrangements I have heard on this show… Absolutely gorgeous.”
- Michael Jonathan, Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour
“Folk, country and bluegrass with elements of classical, jazz, blues, and psychedelic flair. The first thing that struck me was the talent that is spilling over the sides… All the elements come together perfectly to form something that burns brightly.”
"I cannot recall the last time I heard music so beautifully crafted and presented. From Irish jigs and reels to gypsy soul-trance syncopations, every note felt like a gift of love to us from them. Do yourself a favor - go see them live!”
- Presenter John Downing
"Violet Bell is overflowing with talent, heart and originality. Ross’ voice is supreme, raw and ethereal, and Ruiz-Lopez is incendiary on violin, viola, cello, guitar, mandolin, and any instrument he touches. Following an encore and a standing ovation, the audience didn’t want to leave."
-Don Koster, The Evening Muse
“Violet Bell have toured extensively throughout the country, earning fans with their fiery live performances, thanks in large part to the chemistry between Ross and Ruiz-Lopez.”
“Atmospheric, captivating vocals… Durham duo Violet Bell puts an avant-garde twist on traditional roots music.”
“Based out of Durham, the pair have played more than 300 shows in just over two years, resulting in a strong onstage chemistry that’s evident in person and in videos of these live performances…”
- Mountain Xpress
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