Singer/songwriter Inga Swearingen finished her master’s in choral conducting at Florida State University in 2005. During that time, she received her first invitation to appear on Garrison Keillor’s renowned A Prairie Home Companion, an opportunity that has led to over a dozen appearances on the show. “Inga has a gorgeous voice, very fresh and evocative and note-perfect, and that’s the sort of person you want to sing harmony to,” says Keillor. In 2003, she began to study with the acclaimed jazz singer Susanne Abbuehl (ECM Records), which Swearingen describes as a transformative experience. In her first competition after her six-month experience with Abbuehl, Swearingen won first place at the Montreux Jazz Festival Shure Vocal Competition.
Whether putting her personal stamp on a jazz standard or combining the understated grooves of bossa nova with Swedish folk melodies, Swearingen captivates her audience with her gift of joyful melodic invention. She blurs the lines between genres and draws inspiration from anything that speaks to her heart. Ani DiFranco, Bobby McFerrin and Ella Fitzgerald are early influences.
With her recent release, First Rain, Inga Swearingen ventures into new territory while staking a claim in what she knows best: music and song rooted in family, nature, love and human spirit. First Rain is a compelling mix of homegrown folk and soulful, bluesy jazz, with acoustic layers of guitar, stand up bass, violin and cello that frame Swearingen’s clear, translucent voice. Deeply personal, all of the songs were written or arranged by Swearingen and feature silky vocal harmonies with her sister Britta. The sound and lyrical content of the album is inspired by a small farm in California, where Swearingen lived with her musical family. She also revisits her time growing up in Sweden in the haunting and evocative Swedish folk song “Visa från Järna.”
Swearingen now lives near Los Angeles and enjoys the opportunity to work with artists steeped in the area’s thriving music scene.