To know Arthur Russell’s music is to love it. The cellist, composer, and singer made music in the 1970s and 80s, yet his sound could be easily mistaken as something created in today’s music culture. His talent for songwriting was remarkable: from disco, pop, folk, to post-classical compositions, Russell knew how to make captivating, personal, and profoundly beautiful music that is accessible yet complex all at once.
Even if you’ve never heard of Arthur Russell, it’s more than likely that your favorite artists have and even cite him as a musical inspiration. His cross-genre musical projects and modern sound have been a huge influence on contemporary artists in the indie, folk, pop, and dance scenes, and his creations have set the tone for artists today.
The Iowa-born cellist moved to San Francisco, and then to New York City, in order to study musical composition after turning 18. While in living in the East Village of NYC in the 70s, Russell found himself among influential thinkers, artists, and musicians. He formed a friendship with Allen Ginsberg, whose poetry he played music behind. He played with the Talking Heads at a loft in Queens, and collaborated with Philip Glass and John Cage. Russell’s interest in Buddhism led him to play his cello at Buddhist ceremonies throughout the city. He also was drawn to the underground dance scene that was emerging in NYC, which led to the creation of his own disco albums and collaboration projects with fellow DJs and dance/disco artists. Arthur Russell’s involvement with various music scenes allowed him to create unique and diverse sounds, with all the makings of a modern musician.
Shortly after releasing his most acclaimed album, “World of Echo” in 1986, Russell was diagnosed as HIV positive. The disease led to throat cancer, yet Russell continued to make cello and voice songs throughout treatment. After his death in 1992, Russell’s prolific work continued to be discovered by new audiences and beloved by longtime fans.
As avid Arthur Russell fans, Red Hot has decided to produce a tribute album to this great talent. We’ve invited some of our favorite artists to record reinterpretations of Russell’s music, with the hopes of introducing new audiences to Arthur’s timeless songs. For this special project, Red Hot has decided to utilize Kickstarter and the crowdfunding platform in order to directly involve fans of Arthur Russell, and the artists who will be covering Russell’s songs.
Please join us in the making of this extraordinary project! To learn more about Arthur Russell and the artists involved, check out the Red Hot + Arthur Russell Kickstarter project here, and watch the video below: