Blessed with a voice that suggests the high lonesome purity of Dolly Parton
and Emmylou Harris
with an undertow of smoky sophistication, Lindi Ortega is a Canadian singer and songwriter who has become a rising star on the North American alt-country scene.
Ortega was born and raised in the suburbs of Ontario; her mother was of Irish heritage, while her father's family came from Mexico. Her father was a musician who played bass in a Latino band, and Lindi has cited growing up in a house filled with music and seeing her dad work with gifted Latina vocalists as a key formative experience. When she was 16, she borrowed a guitar from her parents and began teaching herself to play, and once she mastered three chords, she started writing songs. Ortega absorbed a broad range of influences -- iconic singer/songwriters such as Leonard Cohen
and Van Morrison
, country legends like Loretta Lynn
and Johnny Cash
, and contemporary acts such as Jeff Buckley
and Cat Power
-- and by the time she graduated from high school, she'd begun performing at local clubs. In 2001, Ortega released her first album, The Taste of Forbidden Fruit, which she released herself, selling most of the copies from the stage at her shows, and a second LP, Fall from Grace, appeared in 2007. Ortega's next project was a self-titled EP issued in 2008 in which she teamed up with producer Ron Lopata, who had heard her material via her MySpace page and was impressed with her voice. The Canadian label Cherrytree Records
signed Ortega, and she released an EP, 2008's The Drifter, also produced by Lopata, which brought her to the attention of a wider audience. She began touring extensively, both as a headliner and opening for acts such as Ray Davies
, Noah and the Whale
, and Kevin Costner & Modern West
. In 2010, Ortega went on the road with Brandon Flowers
of the Killers
, singing backup on his solo tour.