Hailed by two-time Grammy Award winner Michael Bolton as “an amazing artist and spirit”, Ellen Bukstel, multi–faceted singer-songwriter from Fort Lauderdale, Fl., brings hope, laughter, tears, biting wit and inspiration to her music. Providing a voice for survivors and victims of domestic violence, her community activism, combined with extraordinary musical talents and insightful lyrics, makes Ellen Bukstel a force to reckon with.
DUO(D): How did you start your singing career?
ELLEN(E):My mother, Rita Bukstel, was an opera singer and raised me on classical music. I was a very accomplished pianist as a young girl, but as a teenager I taught myself how to play the guitar and started singing folksongs while protesting the war in Vietnam. I loved rock and roll, pop, Motown, Janis Ian, and Peter Paul and Mary.
D: When you performed at a fundraiser for President-Elect Barack Obama, what songs did you sing? How were you approached to perform during this occasion?
E: I was called by the DEC (Democratic Executive Committee) who heard me perform some of my political songs at a July 4 picnic. They loved They Lost My Vote (a response to the nation’s as well as Florida’s problems withvoter fraud) that I co-wrote with my good friend Nancy Wuerzburger. I also wrote a song called Hey, Mr. Politician (my response to our many personal rights and privileges that are at risk) that they liked as well. I also sang Is It Hot in Here Or Is It Me? (also co-written with Nancy) about Menopause and last I sang my song Tikkun Olam Repair The World another co-write (for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation).
D: Do you work with any charitable foundations?
E: I am currently working with Shalom Bayit Jewish Domestic Abuse Program (www.shalom-bayit.org). I am going to be performing at their upcoming fundraising event at the Lincoln Theater on Miami Beach…May 21st. I will be performing my song. You’re Not Better Than Me. I have also written and produced a music video for Camillus House Homeless Shelter (www.camillushouse. org) in Miami to help raise $88 million to build a facility for the homeless in Miami. I have also created a music video for The Greater Miami Jewish Federation (www. jewishmiami.org) that has helped to raise money for Jews all over the world.
D: You are a voice for domestic violence survivors. How do you feel about this?
E: I feel very gratified that my songs have touched people and are making a difference. The reaction to You’re Not Better Than Me was a big surprise. I had no idea that it would have the impact that it has had so far. The music video Faces of Violence that I created with the song has evoked some incredible emails from battered survivors of domestic abuse telling me how much they have been comforted and empowered by my music and video. It has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for domestic violence outreach and is being distributed all around the US and Canada for DV educational and fundraising uses. It opened up my eyes to a world that was foreign to me. I cannot remember what made me write it yet.
D:Your song, You’re Not Better Than Me, was chosen as the winner of the “Breaking The Silence in Song” competition, judged by many professionals, includinMichael Bolton. How was the experience?
E: It is so hard to put into words the excitement that I felt in New York when I was led out on stage and told “on the way” that I won the competition. I was “dumbstruck” to say the least..almost fell over from the shock! I didn’t get to hear Michael Bolton’s speech announcing my name until I got home and watched the video that my son Brett shot. It was an amazing night. It was like being on American Idol.. only for adults.
D: What are some of your career goals?
E: I want to just keep writing and producing films and music videos for worthy causes to help raise money and awareness. And keep encouraging my children to keep persuing their creative endeavors.- DUO