Reeb Willms at Surel's Place

Reeb Willms

(Washington) Artist Website Artist-in-Residence February Residency Year: 2019


Surel’s Place is welcomed musician Reeb Willms, who will be working on brand new solo work during her residency. Reeb Willms was born and raised on a wheat farm outside of Waterville, on the high desert plateau of Central Washington. Her early music exposure was to her dad and uncles singing old country songs. Willms played piano growing up, but was always drawn to singing, and in her early twenties, started to sing and learn to play guitar. Her love of music began to unfold when she lived in Bellingham, WA where she formed bands with musician friends she met there. These were formative years and led her to a professional career in music. She currently lives in Portland, OR and can now be found touring internationally as a singer and guitar player.

Willms tours with the Foghorn Stringband, a musical project devoted to playing traditional fiddle music and ballads. She also tours with the Caleb Klauder Country Band, a musical project devoted to performing original roots country and promoting dance culture. She also tours and performs occasionally as a duo with Caleb Klauder, and enjoys this opportunity for a stripped down sound based around strong duet singing. Willms also enjoys opportunities to teach guitar and singing. She has recorded with the Foghorn Stringband, the Caleb Klauder Country Band, and also with Caleb Klauder as a duo.

The basic idea of harmonizing is to sing along with a lead melody in a complimentary way that is harmonic. Most anyone can learn to hear and hopefully do this, given a little ear training. In the Harmony Singing workshop, Surel’s Place Artist-in-Residence Reeb Willms outlined the foundations of harmony singing, breaking it down into a few simple ideas that can be put into practice right away! Participants practiced by finding a tonic or root note, singing a scale, then creating a chord, finding an octave, and practicing in these in different keys. All who attended learned a song or two in class and use these basic concepts to outline first the melody firmly and then branch out to sing harmony parts.

Traditional old time & country music performer Reeb Willms has performed all over the world and was even featured on Prairie Home Companion, but her goal for this residency was to produce a group of original songs to be recorded and released under her own name.

“I don’t have any expectations as to what genre or type of song I want to write, but rather want to see what comes forth without limitation, other than to create enduring pieces that will tap into timeless qualities that make a good song accessible to many,” says Willms.

Members of the Audio Lab audience were among the first to hear what songs come from this residency and what time and space allow this talented musician to create. These songs represented the first music created and performed under Willms own name.