Chicago Artists Workshop: Rebecca Rego – November 11, 2020

 

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Rebecca Rego – Songs for Cleaning Women

Rebecca Rego has been a Midwest singer-songwriter, recording artist, and producer for over 15 years. She has written and recorded eight albums and toured the country many times over, solo and with her Chicago-based band The Trainmen.

In 2014, a mysterious package arrived on her doorstep. In it was Lucia Berlin’s short story collection, “A Manual For Cleaning Women.” The note simply said: “I think you’ll love this.” As Rego began picking through the dark, witty, romantic prose, the stories slowly began to seep into her consciousness and affect her songwriting. After a few years, she realized she had created a unique set of songs based on Berlin’s book.

In the fall of 2019, Rego traveled to Northern California, where a handful of Berlin’s stories take place, and recorded six of these songs at Panoramic Studio in Stinson Beach with engineer Beau Sorenson (Death Cab For Cutie, tUnE-yArDs,) backed by multi-instrumentalist J. Tom Hnatow (Horse Feathers, Ringo Starr,) and Alysia Kraft, Staci Foster, and Tobias Bank of Fort Collins, CO based band Whippoorwill. The resulting album “Songs For Cleaning Women Pt. 1” will be released November 11, 2020. The release will be celebrated with a livestreaming performance during Grammy Award-winning music ensemble Eighth Blackbird’s “Chicago Artists Workshop” series.

As an independent female artist, Rego is influenced by the unflinching, raw honesty found in Berlin’s art. Many of Berlin’s stories are semi-autobiographical accounts of her time working blue-collar jobs, raising four children as a single mother, and dealing with her own alcoholism. Berlin died in 2004, never receiving critical acclaim in her own lifetime. Rego’s goal with this release is to pay homage to Berlin’s stories and introduce new audiences to her work.