Louisiana blues from a worldly soul
Click the "music" section of Olga Munding's Web site and listen to any of her songs, and it is easy to recognize her talents. Munding is a singer, songwriter, and actress in New Orleans, by way of San Francisco. Trained in the north Mississippi blues by "an old blues woman, Jessie Mae Hemphill," Munding uses music to tell her unique life story.
Munding's parents came to the United States from Innsbruck, Austria, in the late 1960s. What was supposed to be a short stay in America became a permanent relocation, and Munding was born and raised in San Francisco. She now considers New Orleans her home, after moving from the Bay Area more than a decade ago.
"I had the most profound feeling the first time I ever visited," Munding said of New Orleans, "that this was where I was supposed to be." That's a telling sentiment, considering how much of the world Munding saw as she grew up. "I have been fortunate enough to be able to visit my relatives in Austria and to travel around Europe many times since I was a child," she said. "I am American, but also Austrian. It's a special balance of two worlds, I think."
Munding brings that balance to her music. She writes music, sings songs, and plays shows locally and overseas. She recently finished a new album she hopes to release later in 2010. Listen to the sample recordings on her site and you will understand the comparisons she said she receives to blues legend Bonnie Raitt.
In addition to playing shows in and around New Orleans, Munding is involved in other programs throughout her community. "I belong to an all-woman Mardi Gras Krewe, called Krewe of Muses," she said. "I've been lucky to meet a wonderful array of strong, creative women through the Krewe." This group parades the Thursday night before Fat Tuesday and is known for throwing hand-decorated shoes to the crowd. "They are a hot commodity in this town!" Munding said.
Despite her travels and her time spent composing and performing music, Munding always makes time to participate in the Gallup Panel. "I am very outspoken with my thoughts and opinions, and have always been a voice especially for those who are unable to stand up for themselves," she said. "I have had this trait since I was a kid. Sometimes it has been good, sometimes bad, but I can't imagine being any other way."
Munding said participating in the Panel allows her to connect with others independent of the filtered media. "I don't believe we are getting the real news from the mainstream media," she said. "The Panel is real people connecting and sharing their thoughts."