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I offer lessons in:

  • Accompanying
  • Adult Piano Methods
  • All Other Singing
  • Arranging
  • Audio Engineering
  • Audio Production
  • 5 String Banjo
  • Pop Bass
  • Rock Bass
  • Funk / R&B Bass
  • Cello
  • Children's Piano Methods
  • Choral Performance
  • Composition
  • Concert Band Conducting
  • Marching Band Conducting
  • DJ Skills
  • Dobro
  • Ear Training
  • Extended Vocal Techniques
  • Fiddle
  • Classical Flute
  • French for Singers
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Slide Guitar
  • Harmonica
  • Italian for Singers
  • Latin for Singers
  • Mandolin
  • Music Appreciation
  • Basic Music Theory
  • Advanced Music Theory
  • Performance Techniques
  • Popular Piano
  • All Other Piano
  • Early Childhood Piano
  • Beginning Piano
  • Piccolo
  • Sight Singing
  • Songwriting
  • Ukulele
  • Classical Violin
  • Vocal Coaching
  • Vocal Improvisation
  • Vocal Rehabilitation
  • Classical Voice
  • Jazz Voice
  • Pop Voice
  • R&B / Hip-Hop Voice
  • Rock Voice
  • Broadway Voice

    I also have these skills:

    • Accordion
    Interested in taking lessons with Holly ?

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    Holly Figueroa O'ReillyOffering private lessons in
    Greater Seattle area Mercer Island, Washington
    About MeContact Me
    I am a music educator, and teach multiple instruments (please see list on the left.)

    I specialize in two areas: vocal instruction (beginning, intermediate, and advanced vocal technique, phonetics, and theory), and working with gifted and special needs learners of all ages.

    Though there is a list to the left, my main instruments, and the ones I give lessons on the most are beginning guitar, advanced guitar technique in alternate tunings, songwriting, advanced music theory, and beginning piano, cello, violin, harmonica, ukelele, bass, flute, banjo, lap steel, and mandolin.

    I'm a Grammy nominated recording singer-songwriter, musician, and music producer and engineer. I sit on the Board at the University of Washington School of Music Audio Engineering Department, and give beginning individual and group lessons and classes on multiple DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) applications, including Reason, Ableton, Logic, Audacity, Garageband, Audition, among others.

    While I specialize in working with gifted and special needs learners, (otherwise known as "2e" or Twice Exceptional learners), I teach children of all ages and abilities. Many of my students are home schooled, and their parents drive for up to an 90 minutes to use our lessons as part of their music and arts program.

    With all of my students, I use multiple teaching tactics, figuring out how each student best learns (which intelligence they are most likely to learn with, whether spatial, visual, auditory, etc), and create individualized lesson plans based on the student's interests. When working with 2e children, I utilize further information, such as psych evals, OT evals, 504 plans, IEP and/or school reports, etc.

    I also teach adults of all ages. Some have been singing their whole lives, but want to increase their range, some have been playing guitar their whole lives, and want to delve into alternate tunings...and some have always wanted to play an instrument, but never could quite learn on their own. I enjoy instantly putting people at ease, talking about their goals, and helping them reach those goals.

    Teaching Philosophy

    Music lessons should be fun. Period. Learning an instrument takes practice, but practice happens at home. Becoming proficient on an instrument can be difficult and frustrating at times, but the lesson itself should be mostly enjoyable.

    I don't use pre-published books, or all-in-one teacher's guides. Everyone has a different learning style, and I individualize each student's lesson plan to the type of intelligence by which that student learns. For more information, ask me, or Google "multiple intelligences".

    Because of my touring, recording, and current instruction load, my teaching hours are somewhat limited. I am, accordingly, selective about who I can take on as a student.

    That being said, the process of beginning private lessons is very simple:

    The first meeting is free. This is where you'll get to see the teaching space, where we'll get to talk, so I can assess your goals and abilities. I'll spend a few minutes giving you a mini lesson, if you are prepared for that. We'll talk about rates and payment plans, and decide whether we are a good fit from there.

    If I don't believe I can help you for whatever reason, I will provide you with some references to teachers who I believe are better suited to help you. Having lived in the Seattle area for 15 years, I have met and worked with some of the best musicians and teachers around. I can most likely help you find the right fit.

    If we decide that working together would get you to where you'd like to be on your instrument, we will discuss times, dates, and other logistical odds and ends. My teaching rates vary, depending on several different factors that are too multitudinous to list here; however, I will say that even at the highest possible end of my pay rate scale, my rates are competitive with the regional teaching rate.

    Simply put: I mainly teach for the joy of helping someone do something they couldn't do before. I volunteer a portion of my time giving free group lessons to children in communities where there is no funding for the arts. I teach because I love to watch people learn.

    Quotes about my own performances and recordings...

    Quotes about my own performances and recordings:

    "One of modern folk's criminally ignored and unjustly under appreciated artists." iTunes

    "I loved your set. Great songs!" Brandi Carlisle

    "Excellent songs, amazing voice." John Mayer

    "You have 'it'. That intangible, indescribable thing Jeff had. Never stop. Never stop doing what you do, and good things will happen for you." Mary Guibert (Jeff Buckley's mother)


    I have been an internationally touring, performing songwriter for over 10 years. My 2007 release, "Gifts and Burdens", was selected for a Grammy nomination. (Bob Dylan won in the category I was nominated for that year. I voted for him.) I have performed over 1000 tour dates, have released eight studio records two live records. I am currently working on a 9th studio release. A link to my catalog on iTunes:

    In 2006, I was asked (and reluctantly agreed) to give a Songwriter's Workshop at the Experience Music Project in Seattle to a mixed group of children and adults. It was there that I found that I was pretty good at getting people excited about learning about music, and I was fulfilled by the process as well.

    I have been teaching ever since. I play several other instruments other than the ones I teach, but I don't feel comfortable giving lessons on them quite yet. (If you are ever feeling a little down on yourself about the rate you are progressing on your instrument, ask me to play the trumpet for you.)

    I am also in school, finishing a dual major in K12/Special Education.

    For my full EPK, please see:


    Leonard Cohen cover, "Everybody Knows", picked up by Sony Pictures for the last scene of the last episode of the FX show, "Damages", April, 2010

    Featured three times on NPRs "All Things Considered".

    Selected for Grammy nomination for "Gifts and Burdens", 2007

    Gifts and Burdens hit number 26 on the Americana Music Association Charts, number 6 on the EuroAmericana Charts, number 1 on the Roots Music Report, and was in rotation on hundreds of stations (including KEXP) all over the US and Europe in 07/08.

    "Everybody Knows" hit #25 on the iTunes Charts in the UK, and stayed in the Top 100 in 12 countries for over a year. (2010-2011).

    Third studio record and Cake Records release, "How It Is", produced by Evan Brubaker, and distributed by Red/Sony Distribution. Musicians who performed on that record included Tony Levin, (bass for Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Paula Cole), Jerry Marotta, (drums for Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Tears for Fears), Danny Barnes, (banjo for Dave Matthews, Herbie Hancock, Laura Veirs), Dan Tyack, (pedal and lap steel for Derek Trucks Band, Susan Tedeschi).

    Founder of "Indiegrrl", an organization for women in the independent music industry, 1998-2003 (5,000 members internationally). While organizing Indiegrrl, worked with Mary Gauthier, Erin McKeown, Girlyman, Laura Gibson, Ingrid MIchaelson, Kyler England and Adrienne Gonzalez of "The Rescues", and thousands of other women, equally talented, but not as well recognized.)


    International Songwriting Competition finalist, 2007
    Telluride Bluegrass Festival Songwriter's Competition finalist, 2005
    Rockrgrl Conference performance review committee and panelist, 2005
    JPF "Album of the Year", "Gifts and Burdens", 2009
    NACA West Coast Showcase, 2004
    Mountain Stage NewSong Contest Finalist, 2006
    Discmakers Independent Music World Series Finalist, 2003 (2nd place)
    Durango Songwriter's Expo Showcase, 2002
    Durango Songwriter's Expo panelist, 2002
    Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, 2002
    KRCL Songwriter's Contest, 2000 (2nd place)
    AMG Music Pick, "Dream in Red", 2001
    Featured on KMTT's, "Local Access", (Seattle's AAA radio station) in 2007, and did 4 on airs at KMTT before they stopped supporting local artists.
    Rockrgrl Music Conference Showcase and panelist, 2000
    (on panel with Wanda Jackson and Amy Rigby)
    Played over 1000 tour dates between 1999 and 2003.
    Finalist: Acoustic Live Songwriting Contest, 2002. (I came in second. Sarah Bareilles came in first.)

    I requested that my friend, Laura Veirs, open for my CD release of "Dream in Red" at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle, 2001.

    Showcased at the Durango Music Conference in 2002 with Colin Brooks (Band of Heathens). He introduced me to Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta, who comprised the rhythm section on my record, "How It Is".

    I'm sponsored by Luna Guitars and Lee Oskar Harmonicas.

    Sisters Folk Festival Songwriting Contest Finalist, 2008 and 2009 (BOTH times, I got sick and couldn't perform. One of these days, I am going to Sisters!)

    Won third place in "Cover Song of the Year" for "Everybody Knows", and third place for "Americana Record of the Year" for "Gifts and Burdens" at the JPF Awards. (The judges for the JPF awards listened to 42,000 albums and 560,000 songs submitted for these awards.)


    Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN
    Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY
    Passim, Boston (Cambridge), MA
    Bumbershoot (twice), Seattle, WA
    Eddie's Attic, Atlanta, GA
    Cactus Cafe, Austin, TX
    Ruta Maya, Austin, TX
    Jannbones, Tacoma A
    Uncle Calvin's, Dallas, TX
    Lizard Lounge, Boston, MA
    The Triple Door, Seattle, WA
    Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA
    Slim's, San Francisco, CA
    Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY.
    Genghis Cohen, Los Angeles, CA
    Knitting Factory, Los Angeles (the big room)
    Sweetwater, Mill Valley, CA
    The Bitter End, NY, NY
    The Living Room, NY, NY (before and after it moved.)
    Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
    Missoula Women's Festival
    International Women's Festival
    National Women's Festival
    Michigan Womyn's Music Festival


    Mills College, San Francisco, CA (4 times)
    Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR
    Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA
    NACA West Coast Conference
    UCLA, Los Angeles, CA (taught a small songwriting workshop, and did a performance.)
    UCLA, Young Hall (Taught a large lecture on songwriting, and gave a performance.)
    Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA
    Linfield College, McMinnville, OR
    Menlo College, Atherton, CA
    Contra Costa College, San Pablo, CA
    Whittier College, ("The Pub"), Whittier, CA
    IMC-Urbana Champaign University, Urbana, IL
    Western WA University's Underground Coffeehouse, Bellingham, WA
    University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
    Columbia University, Postcrypt Coffeehouse, NY, NY


    Brandi Carlisle, Laura Veirs, Sarah Bareilles, Kelly Joe Phelps, Dan Fogelberg, Susan Werner, Rose Polenzani, Barbara Kessler, Mary Gauthier, Ingrid MIchaelson, Laura Love, Caroline Aiken, Vicci Martinez, Andrew Bird, Wanda Jackson, Tret Fure, Buddy and Julie Miller, The Kennedys, and hundreds more equally talented, lesser known artists.


    "One", 2011 (Studio Record)
    "Everybody Hurts" (REM Cover), 2010 (Single)
    "Wonderwall" (Oasis Cover), 2010(Single)
    "One More Time: Live from the IMC" 2010 (Live record)
    "Gifts and Burdens" 2007 (Studio Record)
    "Live in New York City", 2004 (Live Record)
    "How It Is" 2003 (Studio Record)
    Dream in Red: 2001 (Studio Record)
    Three Chord Plea: 1999 (Studio Record)


    "Remembering Rachel: The Rachel Bissex Tribute Album" (also featuring Dar Williams, Catie Curtis, Patty Larkin, Jennifer Kimball, The Kennedy's, Sloan Wainwright, and many others. This record was also nominated for a Grammy award.)

    "First, Last, and Deposit: a Benefit for the Noel House", and three Indiegrrl Compilation CDs


    2000 Lucy Mongrel Lucy Mongrel Harmonica, Vocals (bckgr)
    2003 On the Mend Kym Tuvim Vocals (bckgr)
    2005 Shimmer Shimmer (Skip Peri) Vocals (bckgr)
    2006 Change David LaMotte Vocals (bckgr)
    2008 City of Refuge Rachel Harrington Vocals (bckgr)
    2008 Democracy for Lovers Paul Lippert Vocals (bckgr)
    2008 The River Grace Jenee Halstead Vocals (bckgr)
    2008 Giving Up the Ghost Julie Loyd Vocals (bckgr)
    2010 Roads Jeremy Serwer Vocals (bckgr)


    NPR's "All Things Considered" features "Dream in Red, 2001
    NPR (audio clip)
    Holly Figueroa introduces the song Dream in Red. It's the title song for her new CD. The song was inspired by the book Into the Wild by John Krakauer.

    Billboard 2003
    About the Independent Music Contest

    NPR's "All Songs Considered" features "Everybody Knows" from "Gifts and Burdens

    "O'Reilly has toured nationally for the past several years, logging countless tour dates (most of them with her two young children in tow) and was featured twice on All Things Considered."

    SXSW Critic's Picks
    Austin American Statesman
    The 2001 Indiegrrl showcase at Gaby and Mo's was the only non SXSW event picked by Chris Reimenschneider at the Austin American Statesman as a "Critic Pick"...also chosen were Ryan Adams, New Pornographers, Ron Sexsmith, Junior Brown, Kristin Hersh, Clem Snide, ...and you will know us by the trail of dead.

    Billboard 1999
    About Indiegrrl...

    "an upcoming, break out, soon to be known artist..."
    Seventeen Magazine

    NPR All Things Considered, "Indie Musicians Leverage Musical Trends to Thrive"
    Interviewed along with Ruthie Foster, Chris Smither, and Peter Mulvey.

    Interviewed for the book "Girls Rock! Fifty Years of Women Making Music"
    The University Press of Kentucky
    Talks about being a woman in music in the age of the internet.

    Interviewed for the book, "The Complete Singer Songwriter", by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
    Hal Leonard Corporation
    Interviewed about songwriting

    "...we felt that maybe there was room for a conference for women..."
    Seattle Channel
    Carla DeSantis explains how she started Rockrgrl Magazine, and discusses how the Rockrgrl Music Conference came about. (We discussed it over dinner, and I helped in every capacity I possibly could.)
    (Irony: I was interviewed at length, on camera, for this show, and gave, what I considered, a pretty insightful take on my part in how the conference came about, but none of my interview was used. I weighed 300 lbs at the time. I think that the fact that I wasn't "camera material" might have had something to do with it. If you watch, you will see just about zero people that can be considered overweigh, much less obese, during the entirety of the video. I have since shed over 150 lbs, but I always take up the fight for sizeism, as I do racism, feminism, etc. Its the last "ism" that seems to be okay to ostracize. I'm not okay with that.

    Rockrgrl Music Conference to Offer Sanctuary for Women in Rock
    Rolling Stone Magazine
    ..."DeSantis, along with Holly Figueroa of Seattle's Indiegrrl, birthed the idea of devoting not just one day, but an entire conference to women."...

    Serendipitous Rise
    NACA Campus Activities and Programming
    Indiegrrl founder and native Ohioan Holly Figueroa started playing guitar in 1999, when during her first tour, her guitar player broke his hip. Knowing nothing bout the guitar, she learned three chords in three days, and finished her tour by herself. She went on to wow national audiences in listening rooms from The Bitter End in New York and Club Passim in Boston to the Tractor Tavern in Seattle and Sweetwater Saloon in San Francisco. Now, she greets fans everywhere with her mix of hybrid folk and blues, and has become highly regarded as a songwriting. Her new CD, Dream in Red, was produced and recorded by Evan Brubaker. It is graced by musicians who have played with everyone from Fiona Apple to Asleep at the Wheel, and has turned into a lush, but sparingly produced record that has drawn comparisons to Jonatha Brooke and Ani DiFranco.

    Women Guitarists Rock the Web
    Acoustic Guitar Magazine
    Short review of my music, and a description of Indiegrrl.

    Was listed in the hot 200 for 9 issues of CMJ in 2003.

    Holly Figueroa: My ultimate summer concert ...
    Seattle Times
    "I know he's coming, I know he's coming. I know he's coming!"

    These words I repeated as a mantra to myself alone backstage. There was very little time to spare before having to perform in front of 10,000 people, and my guitarist was nowhere to be found.

    It was July 5, 1999, The Great Blue Heron Festival in Sherman, N.Y. It was my first tour ever, after only seriously playing live for about six months. The festival was also the first date of the tour. I was living in Seattle, and it never really occurred to me to tour regionally. My airplay for my first record was on the East Coast, so that's where I went.

    I was a singer, but not much of a songwriter. I didn't play guitar then; I only wrote lyrics for melodies that my co-writers laid down.

    It was hot. Upstate New York in July is not a fun place to be, unless you like to sweat. A lot. I was scheduled to go onstage with my guitarist and co-writer, Ray, at 4 p.m. Saturday. I was in from New York City, and he was coming from D.C., and we were to meet at the festival. Friday afternoon I arrived and tried to find him, but there were thousands of campsites, an effort in futility as the sun was setting. Cellphones don't work in Sherman, New York. It is like calling from Venus.

    Saturday afternoon I searched for him everywhere. There was no message at the welcome tent; no one had any idea who Ray was. I didn't panic, though. I waited in the backstage area, hoping he would show up well before our time slot so we could go over the songs that we hadn't played together for months.

    He didn't.

    I started getting really nervous. It was 3:45, and all the other songwriters were getting their guitars out, warming up, asking me where Ray was. I had no answers for them; I just kept repeating my mantra and hoping.

    My friend Jen Cass, who was in the songwriters round, knew a couple of my songs. She said she would back me up, if I wanted. With this, it became clear that Ray wasn't going to show. We all went onstage, and the size of the audience was absolutely daunting. I had no idea what 10,000 people looked like before I was standing in front of them.

    You can't actually see people, they all just look like a field of flowers, with all the flower heads swaying with the breeze. To me, completely insecure standing there without a guitarist, they looked like an enormous 10,000-head monster, getting ready to eat me alive for how much I was going to stink the place up in a few short moments.

    I think most people would have begged off. Maybe just most smart people. I sang a couple of a cappella songs that went over pretty well, considering they were expecting scathing blues numbers I didn't deliver. Jen backed me up on a couple of songs, and the entire show turned out better than I would have ever anticipated.

    The crowd was forgiving and kind (and more than a little stoned), and I even sold a few CDs, which for a musician is kind of a barometer for how you were received by the crowd. Then I cried.

    When I got offstage, I checked my cellphone messages (again) and there was a message from Ray, in the hospital, with a broken hip. Seems he was pitching the tent and twisted something just right, and had a hairline fracture that hurt like heck.

    He found his way back to D.C., and I drove down to hang out with him, thinking that maybe I wasn't meant to tour. He handed me his guitar and said, "You know, most of your songs are three chords anyway, you might as well learn how to play."

    So I did. I finished my three-week tour after learning how to play guitar in three days. I haven't needed a guitar player since.

    Holly Figueroa is a singer/songwriter, and, of course, guitarist. Also the founder of Indiegrrl Records, her latest album is "Dream in Red." She appeared Friday at Bumbershoot. More info about her can be found at

    Regrets of roads left untaken (Review of "How It Is")
    Hartford Courant
    One of the traits good singer songwriters share is a predilection for bracing honesty in their music. That's a point in favor of Holly Figueroa, an Ohio singer songwriter who gave up music to study medicine, gave up medicine for motherhood, and is now balancing music and motherhood. Her third album, "How It Is", opens with "Hard", a wrenchingly frank first person tune propelled by a simple overdriven slide guitar riff underlaid with mandolin. "I'm hard to live with/and I'm hard to love/and I'm hard to get through to" are the first words she sings, in a soulful voice that evokes Jonatha Brooke's folkier numbers. The song sets the tone for the record, which is loaded with wiistful portraits of the path not taken, the transcienceof love and the someewhat more resilient nature of regret. Herlyrics are sharp and rich in emotional detail,and the musicl arrangements range from the stark, finger picked guitar and subtle strings of "To the Ground", to the jarring crescendos of "Red", a diifficult song that seems to describe the unhealthy interactions between an enabler and the enabled. Despite having three records, Figueroa is still largely unknown outside indie folk circles. That is starting to change--her previous album, "Dream in Red", was featuredon NPR and song "You'll Always Have Me" from "How It Is" has made her a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition. With her obvious skill as a lyricist and her growing ability as a guitarist (she started playing in 99, when her touring guitar player broke his hip just before their first festival show) its a contest Figueroa deserves to win.
    Eric R. Danton - Hartford Courant (Sep 24, 2005)

    Performing Songwriter Top 12 DIY pick
    Performing Songwriter Magazine
    Review of "Gifts and Burdens" by Performing Songwriter's Mare Wakefield.

    Gifts and Burdens Review
    Seattle Sound Magazine
    Graced by three covers- one each by Leonard Cohen, Richard Buckner, and Doc Watson- and eight originals, O'Reilly's newest is a gentle, moving example of well played Americana. Combining acoustic instrumentation with Holly's sad, sly voice, the result falls somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Gillian Welch. Hauntingly observant lyrics follow mandolin leads, while dobro and acoustic guitar give the songs a gut bucket rhythm, propulsive but never intrusive. A fine, beautiful release.
    Tyson Lynn - Seattle Sound Magazine (May 15, 2007)

    Gifts and Burdens Review
    Seattle Weekly
    Gotta say, I’m really diggin’ Gifts and Burdens, the new album from local Americana/folk/bluegrass singer-songwriter Holly O’Reilly Figueroa. Her voice has that same perfect blend of gravel and honey, tinged both by darkness and light, that forebears Nanci Griffith and Joni Mitchell employed to great effect and lasting adoration. I’d say her songs are somewhat “whiskey-soaked,” but with the moratorium on that phrase, I’ll just note that her tunes often have a wistful, lonely, late-night quality about them but, at the same time, are not really a downer. On her MySpace page, Holly fills in the “Sounds Like” section with the line, “Hopefully, something you’d want to hear more than once,” and after seeing her perform live, you’ll likely agree with that categorization.
    Michael Alan Goldberg - Seattle Weekly (Apr 11, 2007)

    Gifts and Burdens Review
    he cover of Gifts And Burdens finds Holly Figueroa resting her head in her hands - the weight of her wedding band dragging her down. This is her divorce album. After 15 years of marriage, Figueroa waxes reflective on a relationship gone south. The overall tone is a bit melancholic and sorrowful as she tries to make sense of what went wrong, wondering if anything could have been done over ("One More Time") . "What You Want" reveals a tortured self-blame that leads her to utter false well-wishes to the man who left her. Though pained, her Americana folk musings never sounded so beautiful.

    How It Is Review
    Los Angeles Entertainment Today
    ...a fine new CD, How It Is, slays just about any big company songster product that has been coughed up over the past 12 months."

    Paul Anderson - Los Angeles Entertainment Today

    How It Is Review
    Boston Globe
    In the grass rootsy world of modern folk music, even the best songwriters often become behind the scenes activists. Holly Figueroa is the founder of the influential Indiegrrl netwrking organization and record label, as well as a smart urban songwriter with an alluring new CD, "How It Is, (Cake).

    Scott Alarik - Boston Globe (Jan 30, 2003)

    Indiegrrl Records Founder finds her own voice
    Seattle Times
    Indiegrrl Records founder finds her own voice
    By Sara Jean Green
    Seattle Times staff reporter
    There was no TV in the home outside Toledo, Ohio, where Holly Figueroa grew up.

    The radio — National Public Radio, more precisely — was always on. While the family made dinner together, Figueroa slicing veggies for nightly salad, they listened to "All Things Considered" and then discussed what they'd heard.

    Maybe that's why a three-minute feature that aired on the same NPR show a few weeks ago meant so much to the 30-year-old singer-songwriter who now lives on Bainbridge Island. The segment spotlighted Figueroa's second album, "Dream in Red," and immediately afterward, listeners overwhelmed, an online music store that sells the work of independent musicians.

    Her family's response? Shocked enthusiasm.

    "My dad was just completely floored," Figueroa laughed.

    This week, Figueroa is playing her newest songs in New York City and Boston, and on Sunday, she'll be at Seattle's Tractor Tavern to launch "Dream in Red."

    Though still a relative newcomer as a girl-with-a-guitar, Figueroa's already garnered a national reputation as the founder of Indiegrrl, an e-mail list that's exploded from a group of 10 friends into a 1,300-member organization that supports and promotes independent women artists. From there, Figueroa launched Indiegrrl Records, a not-for-profit label that was recently picked up by All Indie, a national distributor. She's organized Indiegrrl Tours on both coasts and released compilation albums; she helped Rockrgrl Magazine founder Carla DeSantis plan last year's Rockrgrl Conference and she's quickly become a force on the business side of the stage.

    Now, Figueroa's gaining recognition — and local play time — for her searing vocals and the hybrid folk/blues/pop sounds she coaxes out of her acoustic guitar. This summer, she opened for Dan Fogelberg when he played Summer Nights at the Pier. She's licensed songs, too, her work popping up on MTV, Oxygen and the WB Network.

    It's Figueroa's tenacity and intensity — both on- and offstage — that's catapulted her into the ranks of the nearly famous, said fellow indie musician Kym Tuvim.

    "I think she could easily blow the lid off just based on what she's accomplished so far. It's almost scary," said Tuvim, who will play with Figueroa on Sunday. "She's a total powerhouse."

    Her lyrics are fierce and honest: Figueroa talks about her parents' divorce, her own marital woes and her sexuality, telling the story of how she came out as a bisexual woman to her younger sister in the song, "Emily."

    Then there's the title track, "Dream in Red," a song that ends in the protagonist's death — but whether it's suicide or accident remains unanswered. It was inspired by "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer, a book Figueroa received as a gift from her father. She stayed up all night reading and within 20 minutes of closing the cover, Figueroa wrote the song in its entirety.

    "That never, ever happens," she said. "I know it sounds stupid, but it was like I was channeling. It wasn't conscious and I wasn't spinning words — it just kinda fell outta me. Or maybe it was given to me."

    Figueroa's been married to her husband J.C. for almost seven years: "He's pretty cool about that," Figueroa said of her relationships with women. For their daughter Maddy, 6, Figueroa's sexuality "is normal to her because we've talked about it since she was little."

    So why did she decide to publicly out herself on her album?

    "I always felt like I was living a lie, living in suburbia with a husband and daughter like I was straight," Figueroa said, nestled amongst overstuffed pillows in the her newly remodeled living room. "When I'm on stage and talking to people directly, I don't like to lie because they can hear it if you fudge it or phone it in. "

    Touring and making records is a far cry from the girl who sang classical operas as a high schooler and then, as a college student, made money as a back-up singer in a '70s cover band while studying pre-med at Ohio State University. Stage fright kept her from stepping into the spotlight, Figueroa said.

    After giving up dreams of being a doctor for motherhood, Figueroa dedicated herself to her music full time, her daughter in tow when she went on tour. But up until a couple of years ago, she'd never picked up a guitar.

    That all changed in the summer of 1999 in front of 16,000 people at a folk festival in New York state when, just before going on, Figueroa's guitar player fell and broke his hip pitching a tent. A friend jumped onstage and played the few songs of Figueroa's she knew; they did a cover or two and Figueroa sang a cappella.

    "I felt like a moron, an idiot, a complete failure," she said of "begging off-stage" after half a set.

    From his hospital bed, Figueroa's guitar player taught her a few chords — and for the rest of her three-week tour, she played and sang her own tunes.

    Figueroa has plucked and strummed her own strings ever since.

    "It was scary how quickly Holly got to the place where she was performing (on guitar) at a level close to where she wants to be," said Tuvim. "Her songwriting is more stylized and sophisticated, and she has a very intense energy.

    "It's a similar quality she brings to the business," Tuvim continued. "When Holly's in the room, you know it."

    All Music Pick for "Dream in Red"
    AMG Music
    Direct dealing with emotions is the thread running through Holly Figueroa's September 2001 release, Dream in Red. "Emily" is the story of the artist coming out to her sister ("I've got a girlfriend/Yeah, that kinda girlfriend"). Because of the rhythm, some listeners may have a challenging time catching all the lyrics; however, Figueroa includes them on her website (/, and they're well worth checking out. Everybody who's going to come out deserves to have someone in their family tell them they still love them. (Though, granted, not everybody gets that.) Figueroa clearly values the experience, because, for all the wry moments of humor, the core of this song is each sister's acceptance of the other, as is ("She said I still love you/If that's what yer worried about"). It's a very real song, very human. Those familiar with Washington State's reputation for overcast weather will probably relate to this line in "Hades": "You got a hundred and four cloudy days/And they all fall on the weekends." Yeah, that could make a guy take off for Florida, like in the narrative. It's not the weather by itself, though, it's how the weather makes you feel ("Something happens when the snow flies/The kind part of him dies"). "We Do" is about the very end of a relationship ("You're not bad/And I'm not bad/But we're so bad together/There's got to be a place where we're right apart"). Many people who have been through a breakup will understand this one from the inside, and sympathize with the impact. Figueroa sings about the losses in life, sometimes of life itself, as on the title song, "Dream in Red," which surely takes on a new poignancy after September 11, 2001. Yet there's also celebration of the immediacy of life and a night together in "Here." So for all the change points in her life, Figueroa creates a song, and listeners will find themselves moved by the emotional honesty. Definitely recommended for those who appreciate independent women artists.

    Rolling Stone, October 27, 2000
    Article about the Rockrgrl Conference.

    Your best bets for Rockrgrl Music Conference 2005.
    Seattle Weekly
    Indiegrrl Showcase An eclectic batch of singer-songwriters from across the country is brought together by networking Web site Indiegrrl, and headlined by its founder (and local Cake Records artist) Holly Figeuroa. Liquid Lounge, 325 Fifth Ave. N., 7:30 p.m.

    Rockrgrl Music Conference is looking for Talent
    Seattle PI
    Conference Nov. 10-12 at the Madison Renaissance Hotel is July 1.
    To download an application, visit the magazine's Web site at The 2005 conference is the first since 2000, when Courtney Love, Wanda Jackson and Indigo Girl Amy Ray were the featured artists.
    This year's conference -- celebrating and supporting women's achievements in the music industry -- features two nights of showcases including more than 250 performances, a Women of Valor award banquet honoring punk legend Patti Smith and two days of panels, workshops, clinics and trade exhibits.
    Panelists include Sue Ennis, Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano, KISS-FM (Los Angeles) music director Julie Pilat, Derek Sivers of CD Baby and Indiegrrl founder Holly Figueroa. Conference sponsors include and the Seattle Mayor's office of music and film.

    Fans of Norah Jones will appreciate Figueroa's honest folk-pop.
    Tizzy Asher for the Seattle PI
    Finally, tonight Suite G is host to a showcase from the often-overlooked Cake Records, featuring songwriters Holly Figueroa, Skip Peri and Weather (9:30; $6). Fans of Norah Jones will appreciate Figueroa's honest folk-pop.

    Festival gave rockrgrls the chance they deserved
    Seattle PI
    Along with the familiar how-to workshops, Rockrgrl also delivered fresh panels on issues close to women musicians. Midnight gigs in smoky bars are hardly the place to bring your toddler, rock singer/songwriter Amy Rigby said during a discussion called "Mommy, Do We Have to Go on Tour?" "Everything goes against having a kid," she said.

    Blues and folk artist Holly Figueroa suggested that women focus on the college circuit, where kids can sit with a coloring book while mom plays a lunch-time show at the student union.

    Throughout the conference, much of the conversation was dominated by two performers who weren't there: rapper Eminem, who was widely branded a misogynist, and teen pop superstar Britney Spears, slammed repeatedly as a male fantasy of style over substance.

    Some participants saw Spears' and Eminem's massive successes in 2000 as a backlash against the feminist stand made by the Lilith Fair festival three years ago.

    Power, sexuality and responsibility are tricky issues for women rockers and fans, New York Times critic Ann Powers said during a panel called "Woodstock '99 to Eminem: When Did Women Become the Enemy?"

    Music fest puts women in charge
    Seattle PI
    The conference opens with a free panel discussion and question-and-answer session Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. titled "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Music Business . . . But Were Afraid to Ask." Participants include Holly Figueroa of Indiegrrl and attorney Shoshana Samsole.

    Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart will receive the first Rockrgrl "Women of Valor" award at the opening banquet Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

    More than 250 artists will perform at 20 participating venues, among them the Breakroom, Century Ballroom, Crocodile Cafe, Elysian Brewing Co., Experience Music Project, Graceland, I-Spy, Madison's Cafe, OK Hotel, The Showbox, Sit & Spin, several Starbucks stores and Tula's.

    Established artists include Switchblade Kittens, Kim Richey, Wanda Jackson, Melissa Ferrick, Penelope Houston, Eliza Gilkyson, Jill Sobule and Shannon Curfman, the teenage blues sensation.

    Local artists include Carrie Akre, Hafacat, 4 Hr. Ramona, Kim Virant, the Pin-Ups, Holly Figueroa, Janie Cribbs, Honey Tongue and Matchless.

    Solid guitar work and strong vocals...
    Ink 19
    Solid guitar work and strong vocals are built on a foundation of well-crafted songs...
    Phil Bailey - Ink 19 (Sep 24, 2005)

    "How Sweet It Is"
    Venus Magazine
    If you’ve been lucky enough to see folk-blues musician Holly Figueroa, you probably recall her spine-tingling voice, sincere lyrics and the enthusiastic way she strums her acoustic. If you were at a smoke-free venue, you most certainly remember her eight-year-old daughter Maddy, Figueroa’s charming little sidekick.
    Erica Gallagher - Venus Magazine

    Gifts and Burdens Review
    After four acclaimed CDs, the former Holly Figueroa and founder of the Indiegrrl Network changes her name after a period of personal upheaval and returns with disc that's as penetrating and lasting a listen as 2005's formidable How It Is.

    Though she laces her influences and similarities (Emmylou, Shawn Colvin) with the tangled roots of Americana, O'Reilly's music resiliently her own. Never shying away from our common foibles, she manages the neat and nearly impossible trick of sounding both compellingly contemporary and ancient simultaneously; making keen observations as Lay Them Down, One More Time, Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows, Richard Buckner's Boys The Night will Bury You and the title track echo not only from the dark hollows of our psyches and souls but also from the dark, dark hills.
    Mike Jurkovic - FAME (Apr 9, 2007)

    Review of "How It Is"
    Victory Review
    ... "a deeply-felt and mature exploration of grief that builds above all upon the rich, flexible vocal instrument that Holly's voice has become".
    Bill Fisher - Victory Review

    Marking Their Territory
    Seattle Rocket
    Tizzy Asher writes about the founding of Indiegrrl, and about my relentless touring and promotion of the organization.

    How It Is Review
    Hartford Courant
    One of the traits good singer songwriters share is a predilection for bracing honesty in their music. That's a point in favor of Holly Figueroa, an Ohio singer songwriter who gave up music to study medicine, gave up medicine for motherhood, and is now balancing music and motherhood. Her third album, "How It Is", opens with "Hard", a wrenchingly frank first person tune propelled by a simple overdriven slide guitar riff underlaid with mandolin. "I'm hard to live with/and I'm hard to love/and I'm hard to get through to" are the first words she sings, in a soulful voice that evokes Jonatha Brooke's folkier numbers. The song sets the tone for the record, which is loaded with wiistful portraits of the path not taken, the transcienceof love and the someewhat more resilient nature of regret. Herlyrics are sharp and rich in emotional detail,and the musicl arrangements range from the stark, finger picked guitar and subtle strings of "To the Ground", to the jarring crescendos of "Red", a diifficult song that seems to describe the unhealthy interactions between an enabler and the enabled. Despite having three records, Figueroa is still largely unknown outside indie folk circles. That is starting to change--her previous album, "Dream in Red", was featuredon NPR and song "You'll Always Have Me" from "How It Is" has made her a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition. With her obvious skill as a lyricist and her growing ability as a guitarist (she started playing in 99, when her touring guitar player broke his hip just before their first festival show) its a contest Figueroa deserves to win.
    Eric R. Danton - Hartford Courant (Sep 24, 2005)

    Seattle Women Head South to Cafe Brasil
    Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA)
    The Seattle Women boast a long list of credits: Kathi McDonald has back Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, and the Who, and performed on more than 200 albums, and Figueroa founded Indiegrrl after releasing her debut last year.

    Lilith's Daughters
    Philadelphia City Paper
    A few years back, singer songwriter Holly Figueroa was loading her gear into a Seattle club, when a drunken onlooker commented: "So you are carrying your boyfriend's amp. That's really nice of you." Irked, Figueroa informed him that is was, in fact, her gear. Her frustration had been brewing for a while. Playing all those blues clubs made music industry sexism more tangible. People admitted that she had an amazing voice, but they also wondered why she didn't wear a shorter skirt, shed a few pounds, or maybe grow her hair a little longer.

    (article goes on to talk about the advent of Indiegrrl)

    Review of "How It Is", and preview of show with opener, Vicci Martinez
    Weekly Volcano (Tacoma, WA)
    Holly Figueroa is the girl who sat across the room in high school
    paying attention and periodically producing an engaging paragraph so
    well crafted that the English teacher was predestined to read it aloud.
    Fifteen years and two albums later, you catch one of her shows and
    everything you had hoped and prayed for has come to pass.

    The real Holly Figueroa's new album, How It Is, sounds lived in, in a
    kind of Lucida Williams way - a drawl here and a well-hewn hesitation
    there. The texture of her voice is as important as the melody, and the
    engineers must have been halfway down her throat to discover this rich
    clarity. Though the singer remains a cultish secret among the fan base
    she created through, How It is could change all that.
    She has become increasingly eloquent in her assessment of human foibles
    and domestic dynamics. And with bassist Tony Levin strumming through
    her background, head boppin' to grief-stricken lyrics can't be helped.
    Figueroa will bring her Beth Orton-gets-with-the-Indigo-Girls-but-is-cheating-with-Emmylou-Harris
    sound to Jazzbones this Sunday with Tacoma favorite Vicci Martinez.
    Ron Swarner - Weekly Volcano, Tacoma WA

    "A staple on NPR, road warrior, and guitarist for all of four years and counting..."
    Minor 7th
    "A staple on NPR, road warrior, and guitarist for all of four years and counting, singer songwriter Holly Figueroa's roots run deep into the murky waters of American music, touching on gospel, folk, jazz, avant-garde and Americana. However, 'How It Is' is far from retro. Akin to artists such as Beth Orton, Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris, and David Gray, the youthful mid-westerner makes tradition sound modern via clever rhythms, haunting harmonies, and sinewy melodies."
    Tom Semioli - Minor 7th

    "A force to be reckoned with..."
    Rockrgrl Magazine
    Both "How it Is" and "Dream in Red" got excellent reviews in "Rockrgrl Magazine". In one of the reviews, editor Carla DeSantis dubbed Figueroa "A force to be reckoned with."

    Seattle's Holly Figueroa is a dynamo. When I first heard her single "What I Miss" back in the late 1990's, I knew she was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Figueroa is provocative, feisty, passionate, and emotive in her new release, "How It Is", out on Tacoma, Washington-based Cake Records.

    Figueroa can easily compete with her major-label contemporaries in the folk, blues, and rock world, with solid, hooky songwriting, unique vocals, and a radio-ready sound. What stands out is her unique delivery, where she relies on her skill of crafting the song to perfectly fit her powerful voice. Every quirk, every cry, every growl, every scream, every breath, is crystal clear and emotionally gripping.

    This time around, Figueroa took her time in the studio, utilizing a pleasing group of (unnamed) musicians on the tracks to create slightly rootsy arrangements that feature acoustic guitar, banjo, strings, and other tasty treatments. In addition, the vocals are skillfully recorded and present in all the right amounts in all the right places. The production quality is excellent. The songwriting also flows, with lots of toe-tapping rhythms and melodic vocal lines.

    The biggest triumph of all is that Holly Figueroa has finally found her true voice. Her songwriting and presentation skills have finally settled into a place that is starkly honest, revealing a style that crosses genres (rock, folk, blues, pop, AC, country...) and creates a beautiful landscape for her captivating voice.
    Suzanne Glass - Indie-Music

    Highly Recommended
    CD Baby
    With the flair of Country, the warmth of Shawn Colvin, the melodic genius of Indigo Girls and sweetness of Jonatha Brooke, this is a countrified folk pop album that will lasso together fans of the gritty along with those who prefer sweet poignancy. When you grab for this one, hold on tight as this woman knows how to pick you up off the ground and send you through the atmosphere. Highly Recommended.
    - CD Baby

    Many, many more press reviews from hundreds of local dailies and weeklies...
    Holly Figueroa O'Reilly