Cellist, singer, songwriter and arranger Samantha Kushnick has toured nationally with the Portland Cello Project and Typhoon, but for the past year, she's hunkered down in Portland to finish her first solo record, entitled One-Room House.
One-Room House was recorded and mixed in Portland by Lee Howard at Mystery Machine Studios (Y La Bamba, Nick Jaina) and mastered by Tom Swift at Swift Kick Productions (Miles Davis, BB King). Like the release show, the album One-Room House is graced with performances by some of Portland's finest musicians. Nick Jaina, Black Prairie's Annalisa Tornfelt, and Matt Berger (drummer for the Portland Cello Project and Laura Gibson) all appear on the record, as do Anna Fritz of the Cello Project and Jay Cobb Anderson and Mimi Naja of the string band Fruition. The style of One-Room House varies greatly. It ranges from folk-inspired arrangements of voice, pedal steel, fiddle and finger-picked cello to lush orchestral layering of bowed string instruments along with voice, strummed cello, drums, and electric guitar.
Sami grew up north of New York City in a musical family. Her great-uncle, Fred Hellerman, is a founding member of the legendary folk quartet, The Weavers. Sami grew up listening to the Weavers' rich vocal harmonies and creative arrangents of traditional tunes. She began playing cello at the age of ten and attended the Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale, NY. She moved to Amherst, Massachusetts in 2002, where she studied with acclaimed cellist, composer and improviser Matt Haimovitz. Sami settled in Portland in 2007 after graduating from the Oberlin Conservatory with a degree in cello performance.
Sami has collaborated with many renowned performers both on stage and in the studio. Among these artists are Mirah, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Gregory Alan Isakov and The Decemberists' Jenny Conlee. Through her travels with Typhoon, she has shared a stage with the Dandy Warhols and the Decemberists and has performed at the Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza, and on The Late Show with David Letterman.
In addition to performing contemporary works, Sami has a passion for playing classical music. She is a core member of the Vancouver Symphony in Washington state. Through her ensemble playing, Sami has collaborated with Berlin Philharmonic director Sir Simon Rattle, the Oregon Ballet Theater and members of the Oregon Symphony. She has performed throughout North America at venues ranging from Oregon's Britt Festival to Carnegie Hall.
Sami has studied with cellists Hans Jensen and Marilyn DeOliveira. She teaches cello and fiddle at the Community Music Center and Ethos Music Center in Portland, as well as at her private studio.