Portrait of Heartaches & Never Agains
By Starlight evolved out of the Denton, Texas band, Stella, formed by vocalist/bassist J.R. Byrd and guitarist Kory Washburn in November of 2002. With a steady stream of gigs lined up for early 2003, the band began to work out the kinks of performing Byrd's demanding and detailed music in difficult club settings all over the Metroplex. With the addition of Steve Pruitt on drums and Sueyoung Yoo on keyboards and vocals, Stella became By Starlight and began to record their debut album A Portrait of Heartaches and Never Agains. Completed in September of 2003 on a college-student budget, Portrait captures By Starlight's 'lush rock' sound, a combination of nineties (Toad the Wet Sprocket, Matchbox Twenty) and seventies (Chicago, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd) rock influences. The album, as the title suggests, is marked with a tinge of melancholy, most apparent in Byrd's plaintive voice and songwriting. It is also a catalogue of Byrd's growing prowess as a songwriter, with songs dating from his high school days to his senior year in college. In addition to crafting their collective-sound, the members of By Starlight are also pursuing their college careers at the University of North Texas. Each member is a student in the Jazz Studies program at UNT. J.R. Byrd and Sueyoung Yoo are both graduate students in Jazz Arranging and Kory Washburn and Steve Pruitt are undergraduate students with emphasis on performance. In January of 2004 Ms. Yoo stopped performing with By Starlight to better focus on completing her degree. Her absence has been partially filled (there are few singers who could replace Ms. Yoo's unique vocal sound-or recite that Korean poem in 'See Through Snow'!) with the addition of Ross Redmond on keyboards. A Dallas-native and junior in the UNT Jazz Studies program, Redmond performs in the Zebras Contemporary Repertory Ensemble and in other pop/rock groups (Everything After, Spud, and Masato). Over a year in the running, By Starlight continues to work hard to find audiences around the Metroplex who enjoy intelligent, accessible songs coupled with powerful, virtuosic performance.