Sonoma County singer-songwriter Linda Stonestreet makes Amazon Music’s indie music playlist of Christmas tunes

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Singer-songwriter Linda Stonestreet began composing music while she was in junior high school. It became her passion, but she left home at age 16, dropped out of high school and life took her in directions that for decades relegated that love of music to a part-time, after-work gig.

“Life just takes you where it takes you,” said Stonestreet, who also plays acoustic and electric guitar. “I tried to be an artist as best I could but I was really afraid to be broke.”

Now 52 and retired since February, she’s busily making up for lost time, writing and performing locally and abroad, delving into acting and movie soundtracks and producing her third album.

“I’m fully dedicated to music now,” Stonestreet said.

Her newfound focus comes in time to take full advantage of what could be her big break. One of her songs, “Christmas Time,” is among 29 released late last month by Amazon Music on its original “Acoustic Christmas” song list.

“This is exposure she would not have been able to garner herself,” said Kristen Madsen, of Creative Sonoma, a county agency that promotes and nurtures local artists and was instrumental in convincing Amazon to this year include a Sonoma County musician on its holiday playlist of songs by independent artists.

The exposure also is beneficial to the Sonoma County art scene, which, despite a plethora of talent, is not yet as widely recognized as it deserves, she said.

Stonestreet was at a Creative Sonoma spring music event and industry conference when an Amazon representative made a pitch for Christmas songs. It turned out she already had one written, recorded and ready to go. It’s from her first, 2001 album, “Rose Colored Glasses.” The 15-song album was dedicated to her mother, who died in 1999.

The Sebastopol artist is excited her song was chosen for the playlist.

“I think it opens up networks just by virtue of the global exposure,” Stonestreet said.

Stonestreet is hoping to reach more people with her messages about nature and spirituality.

“For me, the purpose is to open people’s hearts and grow consciousness,” she said.

The topics of some 100 songs she’s composed range from nature to peace. They include a tribute to Nelson Mandela and a song about the 9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Center.

She delivers the songs in a voice that evokes KD Lang and Joan Baez. Marcus Barone, a Los Angeles motion picture music executive, has described her style as “soulful as Aretha and as expressive as Patsy Cline and KD Lang.”

Stonestreet is working with Barone to produce music for films. She is not at liberty to divulge the names of specific projects.

Stonestree’s voice is “big, strong, wonderful,” said musician and voice and musical improvisation teacher known as Rhiannon and with whom Stonestreet has studied.

Many of Stonestreet’s songs are based on the natural world, with which she is intimately familiar.

One of her first jobs was as a conservationist with the California Conservation Corp, during which time she led conservation groups to Australia and New Zealand. After some 13 years, she began working for California State Parks, overseeing maintenance and as a water plant supervisor. During that time, she was posted at numerous state parks, including ones at Angel Island, Lake Tahoe, Malakoff Diggins near Nevada City, Sugarloaf Ridge, Van Damme and Salton Sea.

“About every two years, opportunities would move you,” Stonestreet said.

Most recently, she worked for Cal Fire’s Mendocino Unit from 2013 to 2016 as a water plant supervisor. Over the years, she also designed water systems for a small mountain community in Peru and worked at a refugee camp in Nepal. From 2004 to 2008, she produced an annual women’s music festival in Mendocino County.

“I’ve had really amazing experiences throughout my life,” experiences that “made me a better songwriter,” Stonestreet said.

She continues to travel. She was an artist in residency in Sabine, Italy in 2014 and this year performed in Iceland and Montreal. Stonestreet recently has been delving into collaborative, improvisational singing and acting, as well as producing music for film as she explores her future options.

“She’s very focused, she’s very smart and I’m sure she’ll do good things,” Rhiannon said.

Stonestreet’s music and a link to the Amazon playlist is available at: www.lindastonestreet.com

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 707-462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MendoReporter

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