Music: Test of Time

Gypsy Soul turns 20

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Drawing from multicultural influences, Gypsy Soul has found a dedicated fan base that has helped them stay DIY. Photo by Dale DeGabriele.

Twenty years ago, when eclectic roots-rock duo Gypsy Soul was just starting out, husband-and-wife collaborators Roman Morykit and Cilette Swann moved to San Anselmo after a record deal in Los Angeles went south.

“All was going well [in Los Angeles],” Swann says. “We were charting on the Top 40, everything seemed great, and [the label] ran out of money.”

British-born Morykit, an accomplished multi-instrumental musician, and Canadian-American Swann, a famed jazz singer and lyricist, decided then and there to pursue their musical aspirations independently.

“There are a lot of connections to Marin and northern California for us,” Morykit says. “It’s really where Gypsy Soul was born.”

In the last 20 years, the duo has self-released 13 well-received albums that cross the boundaries between jazz, soul, acoustic pop and melodic folk. “We’ve found a niche without support from labels, where people are connecting with what we do,” says Swann. “That’s been the greatest thing along the way.”

To celebrate their 20th anniversary as Gypsy Soul, the duo recently released two compilation albums on their website, with remixed and remastered versions of songs from their past releases. Currently living in southern Oregon, Gypsy Soul returns to Marin with a holiday concert, called “A Gift Within The Song,” featuring soulful medleys that mix together reworked holiday songs with pop covers, fan favorites and other surprises.

“There’s too much saccharin sweet in the versions I remember as a kid,” Morykit says, “so we really rearranged these things.”

“It creates a lot of audience engagement because they don’t know what’s going to happen next,” Swann adds. “We try to make it innovative and make it entertaining for people.”

Gypsy Soul, Sunday, Dec. 10, Fenix, 919 Fourth St., San Rafael; 7pm; $15-$18; 415/813-5600; gypsysoul.com.

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