Pamela Mortensen is an award winning composer, performer, producer and arranger who currently resides in Seattle, Washington. In addition to composing, she is also an accomplished keyboardist, singer and didgeridoo player. Her powerful and emotional performances have been garnering much attention of late and are drawing glowing reviews from listeners.
Her new solo digeridoo album Didgeridoo Sampler is now available at www.pamelamortensen.com and her debut album Mosaic is available at CD Baby.com (check "Album" page for more info). Also visit her site www.pamelamortensen.com for upcoming news and events!
Voted into the Broadjam Top Ten in the following categories:
Fan Picks - 36-50
Fan Picks - Male
Broadjam Top 10 (Earth)
Recipient of Seattle Artists Award from Seattle Arts Commission - 1997 & 1999
Recipient of an ASCAP Plus Award - 2001 & 2002
Semi Finalist Winner of the Yamaha Music Production Contest in World and Orchestral Music-2004
Pamela has a wide range of influences which include Patricia Barber, Roy Orbison, Carter Burrell, Hans Zimmer, Maire Brennan, Lisa Gerrard, Danny Elfman, Dead Can Dance, Jamshied Sharifi, Sufi Music, David Hudson, Fadia el Hage, Mari Boine
Earthy, energetic, introspective all describe the music. Engaging, bright, thoughtful all describe the artist behind the music. Pamela Mortensen has been mixing the best of all worlds into music that sometimes drives with energy and sometimes drifts effortlessly.
Mortensen has had a long and interestingly varied music career that has taken her from the highly esteemed realms of classical music to jazz and blues to electronic music and to vocal, instrumental and dance styles from the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Polynesia, North America and Europe. Currently based in Seattle, Washington, she has been working steadily for the past year and a half drawing from her experience to weave together works that are imaginative, emotional and colorful.
The result is her first album, Mosaic, which she describes as “atmospheric world fusion.” The album brings together many different textures with Mortensen’s musical sensibilities and passion for simplicity, complexity and light and dark emotions. Upon listening, it is clear that Mortensen puts all of herself in each piece with unabashed sincerity.
Mortensen's musical journey began with taking the organ up at the age of six learning every piece of music she heard from folk songs to television themes. She found the organ to be a fascinating instrument because of its versatility. Composers and artists like Pierre Cochereau, Virgil Fox and Jean Guillou were a major influence on Mortensen with their adventuresome approach to this often pigeon-holed instrument.
Of these, Virgil Fox had the most influence. “He was an artist who blew in the face of convention and took the organ to near rock star status in the 1970’s” Mortensen explains, “That alone lit my fire to become a musician and not just a kid who happened to play the organ.” Her experimental approach and her outstanding ear garnered her a Distinguished Performance Award at the Yamaha Organ Festival at the age of 17.
Eventually, digital synthesis entered the picture by way of a class she took at a local college in the late 80’s. It was enough to whet her appetite. She would often times spend hours at the school’s studios sometimes late into the night enough to close the school. “I got to know some of the security guards real well,” she jokes.
While she was attending Cornish College of the Arts, she added choral and orchestral music to her ever-growing palette of musical styles. The result was her first major classical work Our Last Goodbyes for chorus and orchestra based on parts of the requiem text and poetry from World War I, which garnered an award from the Seattle Arts Commission in 1997.
Other awards came later in 1999 also from the Seattle Arts Commission for The Wishkeeper; in 2001 and 2002 from ASCAP and she was a winning semifinalist in the world and orchestral category of the 2004 Yamaha Music Production Contest.
As a performer, Mortensen is proving to be a versatile vocalist and keyboardist with vocal styles ranging from opera, jazz and blues to vocal styles from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Polynesia and Africa. Her versatility extends to the keyboard as well and includes jazz, blues, classical, electronic ambient, Latin and Cuban styles of piano playing.
It has only been since early 2004 that Mortensen has delved into the realm of world music leading her to learn to play djembe, bodrhan, small hand percussion and didgeridoo as well as learning vocal, instrumental and dance styles from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North America, Australia and Polynesia.
Her performance experience has taken her through the Northwestern US and Eastern Europe both as a vocalist and instrumentalist and she looks forward to performing again after a long hiatus to write. In addition to performing and writing, she has also taught workshops in music composition, lectured in music history, has remained an active member in the Seattle theatre community and currently teaches piano, voice and songwriting.