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Gypsy Soul headlines at Britt

Cilette Swann and Roman Morykit tried to get an opening gig at Britt Festivals for years. When the folk-and-soul duo was asked to headline last year at the outdoor music festival, they realized they'd been asking the wrong question. Gypsy Soul, featuring Swann's vocals and Morykit's gift for a diverse number of stringed instruments, will be joined by percussionist David DiLullo and cellist Michal Palzewicz to perform its trademark blend of folk rock and soul with an infusion of blues and jazz at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at the Britt Pavilion in Jacksonville.

Gypsy Soul drew a crowd of nearly 1,000 last year at Britt, and Swann is hoping for a similar turnout this time around.

"It's spectacular to see friends in the audience," says the Canadian-born singer. "As well as fans who've crossed states to see us."

British-born Morykit, the duo's innovative guitarist, met Swann in Scotland, and the two formed Gypsy Soul in 1996. It was the love of travel, culture and art that inspired the musicians to call themselves Gypsy Soul. They've lived in five countries, and diverse cultural influences are reflected in the 11 albums they've produced.

So, what brought the worldly couple to Southern Oregon?

"We wanted a sanctuary," says Swann. "And when we saw the Rogue Valley, we knew we had found one."

It's difficult to place Gypsy Soul into a concrete genre as they push the borders of folk, jazz and pop. Critics have compared the pair with artists such as Alison Krauss, Sheryl Crow, Fleetwood Mac and Coldplay.

"Cilette Swann's voice is haunting, and Roman Morykit's musicianship is superb. Their music stirs the soul and moves the spirit," wrote Monica Rizzo of People Magazine.

Swann and Morykit can list endless artists who've influenced their original and eclectic sound, among them U2, Peter Gabriel, Ray Charles and Joni Mitchell.

"Our sound is really the marriage of our cultural roots, our life experience and our musical tastes," says Morykit. "We have our roles, but we come together to create the magic. And we paint with a broad brush."

Songwriting duo Jan Garrett and JD Martin will open Gypsy Soul's Saturday show.

"We met Jan Garrett and JD Martin at an awards ceremony in Florida," explain Morykit and Swann. "We were extremely impressed with their vocals and lyrics."

Gypsy Soul will record a live CD at the Britt show, and from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 15, the duo will host a meet-and-greet in the tasting room at RoxyAnn Winery, 3585 Hillcrest Road, Medford.

"We've got a few surprises in store for our Britt performance," says Morykit. "We'll be playing two new songs that no one has heard yet. And we may have a special guest appearance as well."

Tickets cost $25 for reserved seating, $20 for lawn seating, $9 for children, $100 for premium lawn seating for four and $50 for premium lawn seating for two. Tickets are available at www.brittfest.org, at the box office, 216 W. Main St., Medford; or by calling 541-773-6077.

Hannah Darling is a freelance writer in Ashland. Email her at hannah.isis3@gmail.com

Cilette Swann and Roman Morykit are duo Gypsy Soul. - Photo by Jamie Lusch