A Joyous Voice


 “When we travel down those old back roads, that’s when we finally find our way” sings Portland songwriter Richard Colombo. For the past four decades music has shaped Richard’s life. A gifted songwriter, performer, musician and teacher, he is known and loved for his engaging style of performance and teaching. His songs tell stories that feel as old as the hills yet remarkably new and rich with themes of love and poignant passages.  Often told in the voice of a character he has created, his songs are honest, courageous and bold giving us a glimpse of a world that is not often visible.  He can also be remarkably silly and childlike.  When he trades his Martin guitar for a banjo ukulele you should prepare yourself for a fun adventure.  His beautiful clear tenor voice combined with masterful guitar work is often quite magical.  A night with Colombo will leave you with the feeling of hope and wanting more.  He has often been called “one of the finest and most authentic heartfelt singer-songwriters working today.”


Richard picked up his first Harmony guitar at age twelve and has been playing and singing ever since.  He played his way through college and it wasn’t long after graduation that he landed a steady job as a kindergarten teacher.  “I learned the magic of music and how it could change lives when I was working with young children.  Every day I would begin and end the day with a song circle. It was the children that taught me that everyone had their own special voice and when you sing together in wild abandon it lifts and lightens the spirit and brings everyone together.”


 Living in Sonoma County California in the early 1980’s is where he began his professional music career as a solo artist.  It wasn’t long after that he met Miche Evans at a music retreat.  They became great friends and decided to form a duo called “Richard & Miche.  They became local favorites performing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area clubs, festivals and coffeehouses.  Their first album “Take a Chance” featured eleven original songs penned by Colombo and Evans and received critical acclaim.  After four great years the duo decided to part ways and in 1984 Richard left Sonoma County for Portland Oregon.


 In Portland he continued to perform as a solo artist as well as in duos.  During this time he also worked as a Singing Telegram Messenger and soon after decided to enroll in the music program at Portland State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis on classical guitar.  After graduation he opened his own music studio in North East Portland where he taught guitar, songwriting and ukulele.

 In 2001 Richard released his first instrumental CD “Carry the Dream.”  This album with twelve original compositions was an extension of his folk roots and was well received, finding considerable airplay on local radio stations.


In some ways, his music career came full circle in 2004 while teaching guitar at Artichoke Music.  He was asked to lead the Saturday Song Circle, so he dusted off his treasure trove of folk songs and jumped in with both feet.  Little did he know that this decision was about to usher in a life changing experience.  When Artichoke Music announced its pending closure in 2006, Richard and his husband Jim Morris seized the opportunity to manifest their vision of “Everyday Music Making for Everyone” and created “Artichoke Community Music” a nonprofit Music Community where Richard served as Executive and Artistic Director for eight years.  This forty-year old beloved Portland institution housed a music store, a music school and a remarkable concert space.  During this time Richard released his third CD of original songs entitled “Along the Way” which included many musicians from the Artichoke community and in many ways encapsulated his love for the Artichoke Community.

 After successfully building a thriving creative community, Richard bid farewell to Artichoke Music in 2015, to pursue songwriting, touring, performing, teaching and creating a new space closer to home where he could continue to teach, inspire and be inspired by the community he loved.  Together Richard and Jim built a beautiful performance and teaching space next to their North East Portland home where they currently host classes, workshops and house concerts.

In 2014 Richard founded the Portland Ukulele Choir where he met his current music partner Laurie Linn.  They have been making music and performing together for the past three years and in 2017 released their CD entitled “Once In A Lifetime Friend” a compilation of twelve original songs penned by Richard.

In 2017 Richard and Jim spent time in Montpelier, Vermont, where Richard brought his music to the Northeast and began teaching at Summit School of Traditional Music and Culture.  Whether on the West or East Coast Richard loves his work and feels blessed that music is his life.  He is committed to building community through music and believes that music can break down barriers and has the power to heal and transform the human experience and create positive change in the world.

Richard is available for private guitar, ukulele, and songwriting lessons.
Cost $45 an hour.
Please contact Richard directly at richardcolombomusic@gmail.com or (503) 312-1579.

Read about Artichoke Community Music