Tom Kell has his own story in the music world... Originally, he was one of the "Skyboys" (a band well known to many in Seattle). After moving to Los Angeles in 1983, he became an early protege of J. D. Souther, who sang on his first two albums. Tom did two records for Warner Bros in the early 90's and was ablaze in the music firmament for many years, writing songs recorded by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Kenny Rogers and others. He has released 7 solo albums, the most recent, a project called "This Desert City", featuring an amazing ensemble of LA session players and singers. He semi-retired from the music business after recording "Complicated Luck"--a mind-blowing confessional recording with his late great friend, Kenny Edwards, along with Karla Bonoff. He then became a beloved music teacher at a K-8 Christian school, where, I am sure to his great surprise, he stumbled onto his future...
Paula Fong is an Americana/Folk singer songwriter from Los Angeles with family roots in both the Midwest America (Indiana/Kentucky) and China. In 2006, she was invited to join in a 5 piece church band where the main musical focus was acoustic country and folk/americana - the kind of music that is both spiritual and also something people can relate to in everyday life. For the next ten years, while working with that group of talented musicians, she fell deeply in love with folk and roots music. She became enamored with the classic voices of Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris, but was also inspired by contemporary groups like NickelCreek and Gillian Welch, which finally led to an expression of her own sound that is a blend of the americana, folk, and roots that she loves so well.
For the last three years Paula has also been a back up harmonist for Tracy Newman as one of the Reinforcements. During that time she first saw Tom Kell and Emiko Woods at a show where they shared the bill with Tracy, and fell in love with Tom's voice and the caliber of the duo's songwriting. She made it a point to go see them again at the CD release of The Mercy Sessions and had the same thrilling experience listening to Tom sing. There was only one though in her mind at the time - Tom's music is the kind that cuts through the chaff and speaks right to your heart - so she went up to him after the show and told him so. Fast forward to a couple of years later, when Tom called out of the blue and asked if they could "get together and just sing a few songs" and what blossomed from that was such a beautiful, organic synergy, it was hard to ignore.
Photography: Ocean Marcus Allen