The Americana/Folk Singer-Songwriter Creates Music That Is Both Spiritual And Universal

Paula Fong-Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar | Michael Starr-Electric, Acoustic, Slide Guitar, additional keyboards | Cory Tramontelli-Upright, Electric Bass | Deacon Marquinn-Drums, Percussion | Johnny Flaugher-Upright Bass | Phil Parlapiano-Wurlitzer | Nate Richert-Percussion | Phil Glenn-Violin, Mandolin, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Vocals | Abby Posner-Vocals | Leeann Skoda-Vocals | Daniel Landau- Vocals | Ben Matin-Vocals |Teresa James-Vocals

Los Angeles, CA June 2024—Some individuals in the music industry might consider Paula Fong merely a respected harmony vocalist. However, despite her petite frame, Fong can deliver a powerful sound and is poised to make her mark as a solo artist with the upcoming release of Chestnut Mare.

Fong grew up singing in choirs and small acapella groups. She’s explored singing various genres from Classical to Chinese Opera and discovered her love for acoustic country and folk while singing in an Americana church band. From 2015-2019 she teamed up with Seattle based singer-songwriter Tom Kell and they released two albums of co-written music. Currently, she sings back up vocals and tours with Abby Posner’s band, Abby Posner and the Big Fall. Chestnut Mare is her first solo EP and will be released on September 6th, 2024.

Fong is a singer-songwriter who connects to listeners with heartfelt sincerity, kindness and thoughtful earnestness. She plays with a sound that covers finger style guitar, old time upbeat, and emotionally evocative rhythm playing. Her voice and music have been compared to that of a young Joni, Patty Griffin, and Deb Talan from The Weepies. Though she didn't attend music school, she devoted her youth to singing and spent countless hours studying with vocal coaches, mastering harmony singing, learning to read sheet music, and training her ear. During this time, she also began playing guitar and other stringed instruments, eventually leading her to write her own music.

“The creation of this album spanned many years,” Fong concedes. “These are just a few highlights from my song writing that I wanted to get on record. I think they do a good job of showcasing the roots of my growth as a songwriter and topics close to my heart—connection to spirituality, the secrets young women silently carry, the complexity of loss, a search for belonging.”

Her colleague and long time friend, Michael Starr, produced the album. Starr and Fong, together with

Grammy-nominee blues vocalist Teresa James, met while organizing and co-directing an evening church service.“I often liken it to what it would be like if the Watkins Family Hour was a church service,” Fong notes. “I’ve had the longest musical working history with Michael. He was a mentor in many ways and in other ways a peer, but most importantly a dear friend who knows me and my music deeply and has seen me grow both as a person and a musician. I feel really lucky that he was able to guide me through my first time recording my own project from the ground up.”

The title track, “Chestnut Mare” kicks off the album and is a poem of her mother’s that she set to music. “I was particularly struck by how my mother’s words seemed to resonate with me in a way that felt so natural that it was easy to sing them. The song is about being guided and watched over by some higher power and I wanted it to feel ethereal and lilting, but also grounded deep in the low drop D note in the bass line of the guitar.”

“A House Is Not A Home”, Fong describes as a “zippy little happy tune that makes you want to tap your feet.” It’s a remembrance of her time spent in her 20s in North Carolina working at an outdoor Montessori/Quaker farm school where life tended to move at a simpler, slower pace. “It captures one facet of the simplicity of that time. Love is hardly simple, but there are certain moments that can feel as easy and carefree as this song.”

Things take a deeply personal turn with “As Memories Fade”, a song that was years in the making. “My older brother took his own life when I was 19 years old. It was so painful that it took me years to finally sit down and write a song about it,” Fong explains. “Finally, one day when I started thinking about him, I realized that I couldn’t quite recall the sound of his voice or what his face looked like. His memory was being robbed from me by the simple passage of time. It seemed an added cruelty on top of the loss. When I sat down to write the song, an old mournful country waltz seemed the most appropriate and organic setting for the feelings that poured out.”

“Ophelia” was a nod to the 90s psychology book “Reviving Ophelia” whose title refers to Hamlet’s Ophelia—abused, gaslighted and mocked until she met her tragic end. “The book was an exposé on the unique struggles and emotional challenges that American young women face in our society,” she remarks. “I wanted to lift up the lost ones and give a voice to the voiceless in hopes that when they hear it, they’ll feel a little more seen and held.”

“Jacob and Esau” is a retelling of the story of biblical brothers in a power struggle and everything that comes with it; jealousy, greed, deceit, fear, anger, and ultimately love, as well. “I felt inspired to try writing some else’s story entirely and found it was a lot of fun.”

Chestnut Mare closes out with “Fallen Lamb”, another biblically influenced tune. “I didn’t mean for it to be exclusively about Christianity,” Fong acknowledged. "It uses a vignette as a metaphor for human suffering and the ways we call out to whatever higher power we believe in during those times. There are times we raise our hand in anger, in gratitude, in joy, in supplication, in grief. In all these ways we connect with whatever we feel is divine or bigger than us.”

Fong is a firm believer in lifting up others and working in collaboration with other artists. “There will always be singers and players with different or even greater strengths than your own, and it takes a lot of courage to acknowledge that and still feel like what you have to share is worth giving. I hope people who enjoy my music will feel and connect with the grounded sincerity and emotion in it and come away with the feeling that we all have something worth sharing

For Paula Fong, Chestnut Mare is only the beginning. The album releases on September 6th, 2024. 


For more information:
Press Contact: Kim Grant | KG Music Press | | 626-755-9022