Interview | Darelle Holden


Photographed by : David Bristol

It’s winter and early spring in the Pacific Northwest. Days are starting to get longer, and with that comes a need to explore and have fun. Whether you are visiting for the first time or have lived here a lifetime, the Pacific Northwest is always buzzing with new and spectacular events to attend. Wine enthusiasts, foodies, and brew mongers, there is something for everyone on the following pages. So check out these next few pages, and fill your calendar with these seasonal events. — Lisa Karlberg

Darelle Holden Shares Her Experiences With Tom Jones And Her Love Of Motown

Darelle Holden, who grew up in Redmond and lives in Seattle, is the lead singer for 313 Soul, which salutes the music of Motown. Holden’s smooth voice and diverse vocal styling has taken her far in the quarter-century she has been performing. She toured for years with the venerable Tom Jones, backed Stevie Wonder when he played Key Arena in 2014, and has performed with Earth, Wind and Fire, Elton John, jazz guitarist Norman Brown, Bobby Caldwell and Ellis Hall, among others. She appeared in the acclaimed movie about backup singers, “20 Feet from Stardom.”

A Berklee College of Music graduate, Holden has music in her blood as a member of a family with deep ties to the Seattle music scene. Her grandfather, Oscar Holden, was an influential jazz musician, and her father, Dave, and uncle, Ron, have a respected place in Seattle entertainment history.

How did you get started singing Motown?
Motown is just one musical genre I love to sing. I started singing Motown because it is one of the cornerstones of American music and our collective American musical experience. Motown music was recorded by jazz musicians like James Jamerson and Earl Van Dyke, part of the Funk Brothers, and popularized by combining soul, R&B, gospel and pop. This, along with solid songwriting, makes Motown great music. Because I love singing jazz and most all musical genres, it was natural to gravitate toward Motown. It
has all the elements I love blended together and that’s what appeals to me musically.

Do you have a Motown artist influencer?
There are many but I love Diana Ross and the Supremes. I love Diana’s tone and feel. The mixture of the backgrounds of Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard was great. Back then the backgrounds had a “sound.” Each voice could have character and be unique while still blending. Their (the backgrounds’) sound was more rough while Diana’s was softer. That mixture always intrigues me.

What is your fondest memory of touring with Tom Jones and/or Stevie Wonder?
I wish I could say I toured with Stevie but I didn’t. I have friends who did but I missed that opportunity. I sang with him when he was in Seattle at Key Arena in 2014 performing the “Songs in the Key of Life” album. Man, all I can say is it was awesome: the band phenomenal, the vocals sublime, including India Arie, whose voice is like butter. It was like being home again. I’d been off the road a while by then so it felt really comfortable.

I was on the road with Tom Jones for about 17 years. I loved it. I loved the lifestyle, I loved making music on a high level every night. I liked the people I worked with and I liked turning the audience’s mind around. Those people who were not aware of Tom’s soul, tone, feel and innate funkiness would be surprised at how hip he was and how funky the band was. That was a joy.

Tell us about the Academy Award-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom.”
This is a movie that celebrates the “background singer” as an integral part of music. We hear and love music but often don’t recognize the important elements involved in making the “sound” of a particular song or piece of music. One of the most important elements of popular music has always been the background singers’ part. The movie celebrates our (background singers) contribution and hard work and for that I am glad.

What is on the horizon?
I’m in a phase of growth and improvement. I am learning more and more about my instrument and looking to continue to sing and perform. There is still a lot I want to accomplish, recording and writing. I’d love to work with an orchestra and big band, I’d like to hear myself on the radio (smile). So much to do.

What is your favorite place to eat in the Seattle | Bellevue area?
There are so many great places in Seattle and Bellevue. I have to say I love Bake’s Place in Bellevue. I love the food, I love the venue and I love the staff. They have a really great thing going on there.

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