Broadway Musical Claire Wellin

Claire Wellin Gets Creative with Youth in a Roman Field

Wednesday, July 08, 2015 Louis Vasseur

Youth in a Roman Field is the project of singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Claire Wellin along with a talented musical collaborators utilizing an unusual collection of instruments. Listening to this talented project, your mind is easily transferred to the French countryside.  Wellin's clarion voice will easily capture your soul.  The Bismark, ND native describes her music as a mixture of  gypsy folk and jazz.   Youth in a Roman Field released their debut album, Grit and Grace, in May 2013, followed by their EP, Suits for Children, in October 2014.  The project is currently based in New York.

Wellin has enjoyed a successful career by anyone's measure.  She played Reza in the Broadway production of "Once" and later on the national tour.   She has played key roles at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater, Lookingglass Theater, and The Sondheim Center.   Most recently, Wellin has decided to focus her considerable musical and songwriting talents on her indie music career.  "Using my voice is very important to me," says Wellin.  "I realized I wanted it to be a part of my life in a major way.  But I never wanted to be a solo artist."  Wellin and her band mates all met when they were all cast in a folk musical, "Eastland", that was produced by Lookingglass Theater.  During the musical's run, they started bringing in songs they were writing.  This led to scheduling outside rehearsals and an experience Wellin describes as "really magical".

After graduating Mankato State with a BFA in Musical Theater, Wellin continued to study jazz, which continues to have a strong influence over her music.  She traveled to Italy to study film and Italian Culture& Language at the American University in Rome.  "I felt very comfortable there with my first real apartment and living totally on my own," says Wellin.  She remembers sitting in a square one day, enjoying the sunshine, and watching this little dancing and twirling with her hands in the air.  This image remained etched in Wellin's mind after she returned to States.   When she and her band were in the studio working on Grit and Grace, her producer asked what the name of the project was.  Without thinking she blurted out "Youth in a Roman Field".   "It was perfect!" she explains.

Wellin's musical trek has taken her from Minnesota to Chicago to Los Angeles and, most recently, New York City.  She hopes to set down roots in New York.  Wellin loves the eclectic energy of the city which in turn stimulates her creativity.  "It's funny.  Most of my band migrated here for a variety of reasons unrelated to the project.  So it seems like it was meant to be."  Youth in a Roman Field play regular shows throughout the vibrant New York music scene and have plans to tour in the future.

Youth in a Roman Field really came together as a musical unit during a four week residency at The Tap located on Central Park West in New York City.  "We were fortunate in that we had the same set up and sound tech for an entire month.  All we had to do was focus on our music.  It gave us a chance to gel as a band.  This is important with the type of music we play.  If I ever got in trouble musically during a song, I could just look over at my band mate and see this 'I'm there with you, just go with it' look in her eye.  We really matured as a band."

As a songwriter, Wellin says each song may start in a different place.  Sometimes the melody develops in her head.  She then records the melody on her phone, plays around with it and she adds lyrics to it.   Other times, she begins with the lyrics.  When this happens, Wellin says she tries not to write about a specific subject but rather she "writes around the subject instead".  Then there are those very special moments when "the song is going to be written and I'm just there".

Wellin has also discovered there is a difference in performing one's own work as opposed to memorizing and performing work created by someone else.  "There is a sort of nervousness, a new level of performance anxiety that comes along with playing your own work," says Wellin. "Sometimes, when I am playing in a coffee shop by myself I wonder 'Oh my god, what if no one likes this?'  But, by the same token, no one knows your own work better than you do.  If I make a mistake or forget words, no one is going to know."

For now, Wellin is focusing on getting settled in her new apartment and her new life in New York City.   Youth in a Roman Field have a series of shows booked in the area as they prepare for the next stage in the project's development.  If you are looking to reward yourself with a real treat, check out Youth in a Roman Field, preferably live.  If you are not lucky enough to catch this talented indie project at a local music venue, do yourself a favor and visit

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