Start with three chords

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There's an old musician's adage that says all it takes to get started with songwriting is three chords. In the case of Katya Chorover, that is true.

Chorover's journey as a singer-songwriter was launched when a friend showed her how to find D, E and A on her guitar. Those three chords were all she needed to play her first song, and Chorover soon was a self-taught guitarist performing her own material in the thriving coffeehouse scene of Olympia, Wash. That was back in the early 1990s. She quickly developed a devoted following for her original style which has been likened to early Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Joni Mitchell.

Since then, Chorover has released one cassette, and three CDs. Following her 2001 release, "Off the Map," Chorover was selected by Ruby Brown, host of KMTT-FM's Acoustic Brunch show as one of her "Top 5 Artist Picks for Tomorrow's Hits" in Performing Songwriter magazine. Chorover celebrates the release of her newest CD "Big, Big Love" at her solo show Sunday (Sept. 25), 7-10 p.m. at The Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free, but tips are appreciated.

After moving from the Pacific Northwest to Colorado in 2006, Chorover took a break from touring and recording to parent her daughter, teach and dry out in the Southwestern sunshine. During that time she continued to write music. When she realized she had accumulated about 20 songs of new material, Chorover went into a Durango studio to record it.

Then, she had to decide what to do with it all. She needed musicians to play tracks, but the thought of recruiting and auditioning instrumentalists felt overwhelming. So, Chorover called her old friend and long-time supporter Casey Neill, who runs the Secret Society Studios in Portland, Ore., for advice.

"You know what," Neill reportedly told her, "I'm gonna call you back in an hour." When he called her back, Neill said "I just scheduled three days in this beautiful studio. I have a guitar player, a bass player and a drummer. You should just come out here and we'll make the record out here." Chorover said she barely took a breath before she gratefully agreed.

"We did all the basic tracking live, which was really fun for me because I've always wanted to record that way and I've just never had all the people in the same room at the same time," Chorover said. "I couldn't have asked for a better situation. It was so fun."

The album features members of Neill's band, the Norway Rats, and several of Portland's best players for a contemporary Americana sound layered with mandolin, fiddle, back-up vocals, trumpet, pedal steel and dobro. The CD was mixed by sound engineer Chet Lyster who toured with Lucinda Williams and The Eels. It was mastered by Seattle's Ross Nyberg.

The title track, "Big, Big Love," was written about a 36-year-old mother and yoga teacher who Chorover met when she first moved to Cortez, Colo. "The summer after we moved here she had bronchitis and she had a horrible asthma attack and passed away," Chorover shared. "She was one of those people who have gone too young, a shining light. She was such a big part of so many experiences I had when I moved here ... Her spirit is a big part of this record."

Chorover said she's inspired by songs that tell stories of personal, ordinary experiences that become universally meaningful in the telling. Her song material tends to be about simple stories of daily existence. "Little Bird" is a good example. Chorover said she wrote the sweet, traveling melody while thinking of the different places she's lived, changing seasons and bird migrations.

For more information, call (575) 758-2233. A full entertainment schedule, for their nightly shows, can be found at www.taosinn.com. For more on Katya Chorover, visit www.katyachorover.com.

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