Arts & Entertainment

CD Party is a Stylish Way to Support the Arts


An inventive hair stylist and her crew are using their many talents to help the Rockford Art Museum.

The Singing Stylists, clockwise from bottom left: Clare Black, Marilee Sjostrom, Blaine Deihl, Michelle Rainwater and Sam Heibel, who’s giving Santa a manicure.

By day, Clare Schwartz is a hairstylist, and owner of High Maintenance Salon and Spa, 4401 Peak Dr., Loves Park, Ill. By night, she’s jazz singer “Clare Black,” touring the local circuit with her trio. As the Christmas season approaches, Schwartz is using her dual talents to help the community. For the second year in a row, her Christmas CD party will benefit a local institution – this year, the Rockford Art Museum (RAM).

“I think everyone has gifts, and if I use mine for the community, it’ll make my life more fulfilling,” Schwartz says. “It then becomes a life work, and not just work.”

Clare Black and the LA Trio will headline The Singing Stylist Holiday Blowout, Nov. 17, at RAM, 711 N. Main St. Show up for snacks from 6:30-7 p.m., and then stick around for live music, from 7-9 p.m. Guests can also pick up Schwartz’ newest Christmas CD, which includes the voices of six High Maintenance stylists and some other local talents. Proceeds from the event and CD sales support RAM, which hosts continuing art exhibits and art classes.

Schwartz’ talented stylists lend their voices to nearly every CD track, including two show-choir type songs inspired by the hit TV show “Glee.” Sweet Adelines, an all-woman barbershop group, performs popular Christmas covers, while groups like Matter of Fact, from Oregon, Ill., contribute fun, new songs. Black also had help from Darkhouse Productions, whose audio team donated hours of work to mix tracks.

“This isn’t about me at all,” Schwartz says. “All of my stylists are on this album, and we’ve had some generous help from others in the community.”

Schwartz started her Christmas CD tradition in 2010, with a CD release party dedicated to Lydia Urban Academy, a privately funded alternative school for academically deficient students. In all, she raised $3,000 by selling more than 150 tickets and 200 CDs. With a larger venue and some extra help this year, she hopes to top that.
“I think we can do at least $5,000,” Schwartz says.

So far, the program has encouraged a creative outpouring from local stylists, and drawn together a team in an industry that sees a lot of turnover. “It’s a a great chance to spotlight stylists not only from our salon, but from others, too,” says Michelle Rainwater, senior stylist at High Maintenance. “It’s something the whole community has a chance to be part of.”

This year, on the CD, Rainwater leads a Middle Eastern take on the classic “Little Drummer Boy.” She’ll perform live during the fundraiser, too. In fact, all contributing stylists are scheduled to perform.

“I love Christmas, so this album is right up my alley,” Rainwater says. “Plus, I’m all about giving back to the community. This album is a great opportunity to enjoy my favorite holiday and to share my talents in a way that helps others.”

Tickets are $25 for regular seating, and $35 for VIP seating closest to the stage.

To order tickets, visit any one of three High Maintenance locations in the region: High Maintenance and Maintenance Man, both inside Peak Sports Club, 4401 Peak Dr., Loves Park; and High Maintenance Salon (formerly Salon Bellezza), 5322 Williams Dr., Roscoe, Ill. ❚

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