By Cailey Barnhart
Christa “Uno Lady” Ebert performed at the McDonough Museum of Art on Nov. 6 as part of the MUSE series, which features “innovative expressions of contemporary culture.”
The MUSE series serves to bring groundbreaking new music and dynamic collaborations to enrich the culture of Northeast Ohio.
Cleveland native Ebert is a self-taught one-woman show, using just a microphone, loop pedal and small mixer. With this simple setup, she is able to create haunting melodies and a unique musical experience that entrances listeners.
In a set including surreal nature backdrops and a neon purple podium, Ebert performed a variety of covers and original songs, including a take on Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways.”
Ebert’s talent has not gone unnoticed. She has received the Chateau Orquevaux artist residency, Creative Workforce fellowship, Akron Soul Train fellowship and a Panza Foundation award, among other recognitions.
“I’ve just always sang my whole life, and I had a bug that I had to do it. I started making music on my own in my living room, and then one of my friends asked me to play a show. And I’ve just been playing shows ever since,” Ebert said.
When it comes to making music, Ebert often includes aspects of nature, whether visually as a backdrop or as a sound, by adding in field recordings to her songs.
Her single “Sasquatch Disco” featured field recordings “in the woods, crunching leaves, skipping stones, and turkey tail mushrooms as percussion,” with Sasquatch being “a metaphor for creating, an elusive yet familiar monster lurking on the fringe.”
Earlier this year, Ebert was given the opportunity to perform a handful of shows in Europe and she seized it.
On her September excursion, Ebert performed two shows in Bern, Switzerland, and one show in Paris.
When she isn’t performing, Ebert, who has a background in urban development and public administration, is a strong activist in her hometown of Cleveland.
Ebert has worked for over 10 years at various environmental justice organizations, focusing on pollution prevention or exposing economic and financial vulnerabilities of the fuel industry.
“I’ve organized a citywide potluck in Cleveland where 250 people came and we all shared a meal together. Also, I’ve done vacant land reuse initiatives. There was a federal grant, and I helped people get side yards for their property with the vacant land that we have in Cleveland,” she said.
Junior theatre studies major Elizabeth Sabo attended the event and witnessed much more than she expected.
“I loved Uno Lady, and the theme of innovative expression was nailed by her performance. Her use of pedals and tracks changed the listener’s perspective of what to expect next.
“I expected a woman just singing along to tracks, but it was so much more than that. Her experience was truly unique,” she said.
Delanie Fairchild, an attendee from Canfield, went into the show not knowing what genre Uno Lady was going to offer.
“I was incredibly impressed. It’s amazing to see what can be created with such little. Her style was unique and she had a really memorable voice. I loved the covers because I was able to appreciate her unique style and take on songs I had already known and loved,” she said.
The next MUSE event will feature composer Forrest Pierce alongside the Dana School of Music faculty chamber recital. This event is on Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. in the McDonough Museum of Art.