For Long Beach visual and performing artist Renée Bruno, creativity gives her the opportunity to express her beliefs and emotions.
After excelling in art and sign-language classes throughout high school, she discovered that she could use these skills to help the deaf express themselves through painting.
“Deaf people are really expressive when it comes to visual aspects,” Bruno said. “They’re really sensitive to anything visual…Since they don’t have hearing, all of their other senses intensify. It would just be really cool for them to feel the way I feel when I’m painting.”
Bruno now attends Long Beach City College with plans to major in child development and minor in art. Acrylic and oil paint are her favorite mediums.
Although Bruno has not been involved in any art shows, one of her favorite pieces, “Eye of London,” was chosen to be displayed in the Bluebird Art Lounge and Gallery in Whittier. “It’s supposed to be kind of like the eye of God looking over a corrupt civilization,” she said.
In addition, Bruno is an active singer in the community. She often performs at open-mic nights in cafés such as Portfolio Coffeehouse, 2300 E. Fourth St., and Viento y Agua Coffeehouse, 4007 Fourth St. On some nights, she sings at Your House Restaurant, 2838 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Bruno is currently involved with three groups. One is called Hedgehog Swing, a gypsy-swing jazz group. Other members include guitarist Luca Pino, guitarist Gage Hulsey, clarinet player Kale Stiles and bass player Benj Clark. “I sing, like, three or four songs with them because I do more like traditional ‘20s Billie Holiday kind of stuff,” Bruno said. “I’m starting to learn more of their style.”
Another band with which Bruno is involved is The Moon and I, which plays mostly indie, folk and alternative music.
Bruno’s most recent endeavor is performing with her boyfriend Cody Thomas. “We don’t really have a name for our band yet, but we have been writing a lot of songs together, and we are probably going to record pretty soon,” she noted.
Bruno started singing at a young age. She remembers her mom playing keys on the piano for Bruno to try and match her voice with the notes. They also enjoyed Karaoke.
Before Bruno learned how to sight-read, she was already writing songs. “I had always been into poetry,” she said. “So, I just wrote songs, too.”
A large portion of Bruno’s lyrics is spiritual. “Everything that I do is a really cool testimony to what I believe in,” she explained. “I am Christian, so I always give thanks to God in what I do. He gave me the opportunity to express myself and share it [with] others and impact others. A lot of my lyrics are about that. Sometimes, people don’t realize that [the lyrics] are Christian. It’s more subtle, but it’s a big part of it.”
It wasn’t until high school that she actually learned musical terms. In her junior and senior year, she qualified for honor choir.
Bruno says she has been strongly influenced by her Uncle Danny, who used to own part of a recording studio in Santa Ana. “He always gives me advice because he was in so many bands,” she noted. “He has gotten ripped off so many times in the music business, and he always says, ‘You need a back-up plan because the music business today is just all about connections.’”
Bruno started singing at open-mic nights about a year ago. “You go, and you never know really [whom] you’re going to meet,” she said. “They’re great because people know about them in the area, and you can just walk in and play.”