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With changed attitude, North County singer-songwriter feels 'Unbeatable'

MusicMusic IndustryRidley ScottRadio Industry

Ruut was destined to become a singer/songwriter.

One of four daughters born in Finland to parents who were classical musicians, Ruut DeMeo — who goes professionally by her first name, Finnish for Ruth, pronounced "Root" — spent her childhood in a house filled with music. When she went to the opera, she often saw a production composed by her grandfather, renowned composer Aulis Sallinen.

Now living in North County and the married mother of two daughters, Ruut, 33, recently released her third full-length CD, "Glimpse," which features 10 songs she wrote and recorded at Baltimore recording studio The Wood and Stone Room. Ruut plays piano in each song.

"I have a sign in my writing room at home that is really my motto," Ruut said recently. "It says, 'If you don't build your dream, someone will hire you to build theirs.' I wrote my first song as a 7-year-old, and today, I like to think of myself as an authentic artist."

After her family moved to the U.S., Ruut came to Maryland in 1996. She was in her early 20s when she left Baltimore to make a name for herself in the music world in Los Angeles, Nashville and New York.

She released a self-titled six-song EP in 2007; the "Music of the City" CD in 2008; and "The Steinway Sessions" CD in 2009.

"My focus was different then," she said. "I did some acting in L.A., and I just wanted a hit song. After I took time off to have my two girls, my attitude changed. Now, I push myself to write songs that touch me and will hopefully touch others."

Her 2013 CD "Glimpse" was funded through Indiegogo.com, where artists seek fan funding for projects. She also has a photography business that helps pay her musical expenses.

Finding time to sit down, and create music and lyrics wasn't easy for Ruut. Often, she'd head to the keyboard in her basement office at night or when her children were napping.

She says she still gets chills when music and lyrics come together. She called "Unbeatable" on her new CD a "stand-out hit."

"I think it's the one that resonates with people the most," she said of the song that was inspired by several life experiences, including watching her husband's family mourn the death of his mother. "I wanted the climax of the song to make every listener feel capable of being the warrior that their life situation is calling them to be."

She described her style as "folkie-pop, like Joni Mitchell meets Tori Amos."

Scott and Jennifer Smith, local musicians and owners of the Wood and Stone Room, have known Ruut for nine years and worked with her to record "Glimpse." Both Smiths sang some vocals, and Scott played guitar and Jennifer played an electric mandolin called a mandocaster.

"Ruut has a timeless quality about her writing and her singing," Scott Smith said. "She has a beautiful voice, a pure voice that doesn't rely on histrionics. She wants to write great songs whether 10 people or 10 million people hear them."

Since "Glimpse" was released last September, Ruut has performed at venues in Annapolis, Easton, Thurmont and Sykesville. She has also performed live on Towson University radio station WTMD 89.7 FM during a September rock-n-roll-a-thon.

"We've been aware of her music for a while. She has a very, very professional, polished sound. Her voice is very pleasant to listen to," said Erik Deatherage, assistant program director at WTMD. "She and her band played here live and they jelled, so it was CD quality."

Ruut will perform Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. at the Cellar Stage at Faith Community United Methodist Church of Hamilton. She will be appearing with a full band.

"My songs don't feel complete until I play them for an audience and get feedback," she said.

Vance Van Horn, president of Sheffield Recording Studio in Phoenix and Ruut's friend for years, agreed.

"Her CD is great, but you need to see her live. People who have seen her perform love her," he said.

For more information or tickets to upcoming shows, go to ruutmusic.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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