It’s been said that Davis boasts a lot of hidden talent in terms of the arts. Davis resident Rita Hosking has been acclaimed for her “story and sense of place,” according to her website. Her website also states that her performances are praised for capturing the audience. Some of her accomplishments include being part of the 2008 Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest at the Sisters Folk Festival as well as being a finalist in the 2009 Telluride Music Festival Troubadour Contest. Hosking is currently on tour, with her next show on Saturday in Santa Rosa.
MUSE: Would you give us a brief introduction?
Hosking: I’m a country, folk and Americana singer-songwriter. I write most of my own material. I was a teacher in Davis for about 12 years, and I graduated from UC Davis.
Tell us a bit about your career.
I got started songwriting on a guitar when I was going to college. My friends and roommates got together and bought me an old Gibson guitar. They had me singing and they decided to get me a guitar. I learned three chords and popped a song out. I was doing open-mics around Davis. From there, there were several years where I was going to grad school. Around 2004, I started writing more songs. I started playing around at parties. In 2005, my first record came out. I tour around the Netherlands, England, every year and tour around the U.S. I want to keep making records; I have released four albums and a live EP that was made down inside a gold mine. I love writing songs and singing for folks, and I want to keep doing that as long as I can.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a musician?
It was a gradual set of steps — of realizations — that this was all I could think about. However, I probably realized I wanted to do it before I could do it. I didn’t stop my day job until I was confident I could support myself with my music income.
How did you find your voice?
That has a lot to do with the music that I listened to as a child. I listened to a lot of country music. I grew up between Lassen and Shasta, on Hatchet. Some people hear me and think [of] the Appalachians. I think I write a lot about issues relating to home, and that brings out that side of me.
How has living in the Davis area inspired your music?
The region that has most inspired my music is where I grew up. But I grew up in Davis, too, during college. The humanities courses taught me that music is the meeting of the conscious and the subconscious. I was looking for ways to express myself that wouldn’t necessarily embarrass me at the same time. It took a lot of feedback and maturity for me to feel that I was expressing myself intelligently.
What do you like most about Davis?
I travel a lot now, and I like coming back to Davis. It feels friendly. What I like a lot about Davis now that it’s in an excellent location for travel. It’s a very central spot, and I really appreciate that. It’s been a good spot for my husband, too.
What has been the most exciting moment of your career?
I can’t come up with one moment, but I can tell you what type of moment gets me. It’s when people approach me and tell me that my songs or my music touch them in a meaningful way. There was a man who told me that this one song of mine helped him get over his wife’s death. That’s very memorable to me, and it makes me feel that what I’m doing has some use beyond entertainment.
Do your teaching and music ever mix?
Yes. I definitely sang to my kids, to my students, when I was working at the junior high. It would take them off guard. Also, I used music for history. I definitely use other people’s music and old songs to use as a source for a history lesson. I’m not teaching anymore, but I’m asked to do workshops at festivals. I’ve done some songwriting classes. I just felt totally in my element. I was blissed out, because I was doing the two things that I loved at the same time.
Finally, any words to share with us?
I would say, based on my experience, studying what you’re really attracted to will help you on your journey. It will help you on those steps. I definitely don’t think I could be doing what I do now without my experience at college.
To check out Rita Hosking’s music, visit ritahosking.com.
BRETT BUNGE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.