A 30-year legacy: Greenwood musician Cris Williamson celebrates 1974 release of 'The Changer and the Changed'

For more than 30 years, Greenwood resident Cris William-son's album "The Changer and the Changed" has represented a landmark in the music industry.

The album was issued in 1974, under Olivia, the first all-women's national record company, which Williamson conceived of during an interview in Washington, D.C.

"The Changer and the Changed" has subsequently become one of the best-selling, independent releases of all time, with close to a million copies sold.

"From what people tell me, it really speaks to their lives in several ways," Williamson said of her album.

For the anniversary tour of "The Changer and the Changed," Will-iamson is reuniting with many of the original musicians who she collaborated with on the album: "The Tonight Show" percussionist and singer Vicki Randle, keyboardist Julie Wolf and electric cellist Jami Sieber. Singer-guitarist Teresa Trull and jazz pianist-fiddler-singer Barbara Higbie are also slated to perform.

Williamson anticipates bringing the concert to the University of Washington's Meany Hall, Sept. 9. The first set will include a variety of music, written by several of the band members, and the second set will include all of the songs from "The Changer and the Changed."

"People love that music, and they know right where they were when they heard it," Williamson said. "It was pretty revolutionary in that way."

For most of her career, Williamson has been an independent artist.

"I like to make my own decisions about what I want to do," she said. "I learned to make my own choices."

"Ashes," Williamson's latest CD on her own label, Wolf Moon Records, includes a collection of 12 songs. She has produced close to 30 of her own albums.

"I'm proud to be a musician because I think it's a really interesting human endeavor," she said.

Growing up in the prairies and mountains of South Dakota, Williamson would listen to classical music on a wind-up Victrola in her home. She also would sing together with her brother, sister, mother and father as a family.

"To me, it's just like breathing," Williamson said. "There wasn't a time that I didn't sing."

Her first paid gig was at age 16 at the Maverick Supper Club in Sheraton, Wyo. She made her first album the same year.

Williamson maintains her own distinct style of music, influenced by many different genres, including folk, country-western and rock 'n' roll. Her songs "strive to describe the human condition," she said.

Williamson has performed all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Russia, Australia and New Zealand. She also said she has played in every state in the country, except Mississippi. She also has sold out Carnegie Hall three times.

"The first time I ever heard Cris' music, it was like hearing honey dripped on a cello.... I'd heard about the legend of Cris Williamson, and then I heard her music," said music artist Bonnie Raitt, in a short film about Williamson. "I was just so touched, and continue to be, by her soulfulness. Cris has been a whole lot of women's heroes, including mine."

In addition to Raitt, Williamson has performed with Holly Near and Laurie Lewis. Williamson recently performed a holiday concert at the Triple Door downtown, with Higbie, a pioneer in new-age music, and Teresa Trull, who has produced more than 30 albums.

The lyrics of her songs have appeared in books and thesis papers, and her albums are part of the curriculum for women's studies courses.

Williamson also teaches song-writing and performance all over the country.

"Play anywhere, play everywhere and don't worry about where you're not; worry about where you are," Williamson advised to those pursuing a music career. "Never take it for granted."[[In-content Ad]]