We had the good fortune of connecting with Claire Khodara and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Claire, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
I never give myself the option of giving up. When you’re an artist, there is only one path. Control your mind and don’t give up!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Claire Khodara, 36, is a recording artist, autism activist, and creative entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, California. Known for her soulful and soaring sound inspired by folk and Americana icons Brandi Carlisle and Bonnie Raitt, Claire transcends musical genres with her classical background and modern, sultry vocals which span an international, 25-year career.
Born in Philadelphia in 1985, Claire trained at the multi-secular Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, one of the oldest musical institutions in the world. While there, she studied classical opera under the legendary Italian soprano and opera director Renata Scotto, who famously taught Grammy award-winning soprano Renée Fleming.
For two years, Claire rigorously honed her technique and embodied the institution’s artistic and charitable aims, promoting art and music in all its manifestations. In 2004, Claire was awarded the honor of being the Pope’s Benediction singer as the soprano soloist for Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, a position she held until 2006. She also performed in front of thousands at Piazza San Pietro and in the Sistine Chapel for the initiation celebration of new cardinals.
In 2010, having studied at Imperial College in London, Claire returned to Philadelphia to finish her Bachelor of Arts at Temple University. She was then selected to be a contestant on Season 9 of the American singing competition television series American Idol in Los Angeles, following her audition of Mr. Big’s “To Be With You.” An overnight success, Claire’s musical career was propelled into the spotlight, leading to mentions in the press and performances for national anthems, residencies and private events.
Realizing the ease with which she could advocate for herself as an artist, Claire launched her own production company STARROCK in 2012 to help other performers, providing custom acts and live entertainment for a wide-range of global events, including New York, London, and Paris Fashion Weeks.
In 2012, she moved back to London to broaden her professional horizons, where she expanded STARROCK and garnered coveted singing residencies at Annabel’s, The Arts Club, Shoreditch House, Little House Mayfair, George, and Morton’s, cementing her reputation as the go-to songstress performing for celebrities (Victoria and David Beckham, Duffy), royals (Prince Harry), and the who’s who of British society.
In 2014, Claire released her freshman album Brand New with her London band, featuring mid-tempo, folk-inspired jazz sounds.
By 2016, she moved stateside to New York City, securing residencies at The Pierre, The Blond, Rose Bar, The Peninsula, Pianos, and Rockwood Music Hall. She also synced up with producer Billy Pavone (of Wet and St. Lucia fame) to form the band Khodara, whose repertoire included original pop songs. With a dynamic, soulful sound, Khodara was influenced by electronic music in the style of Passion Pit combined with vintage Madonna. Khodara’s debut EP Where’s Your Love, including songs Billie and Anxious, were received with critical acclaim.
Claire “[found] power through beauty,” wrote Cool Hunting, with the ultimate goal to “demonstrate the versatility of pop music around the world,” while BlackBook hailed her as “the gorgeous songstress [who] has been compared to, amongst others, Lana Del Rey,” with Claire being “much more the classic soul singer updated – her music far more sensual, passionate.”
The music video for Khodara’s title track was further shot by award-winning filmmaker and writer Shruti Ganguly, with cameos by prominent creatives including Mickey Boardman, editorial director of Paper Magazine, and fashion models Natalya Piro, Teresa Moore, Aimee Ruby, and Alise Shoemaker.
In 2017, Claire became a mother, giving birth to her first child, Winston Khodara, who was subsequently diagnosed with autism at age 2. Drawing upon her previous advocacy experience, she actively supported autism awareness and acceptance, making it her life’s work to help other parents along their shared journey, and integrating music and musical therapy towards her son’s struggle to find his own voice.
During the pandemic, Claire and her family relocated to Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, where she opened STARROCK’s new bicoastal office, employing a network of 100+ artists annually, and serving hundreds of events a year, or over 2,000+ total since the company’s founding.
Voted the best women-run global entertainment company by Luxe Magazine, STARROCK is a powerful platform for diverse artists, from trendsetting DJs, live dance, brass or jazz bands, and string ensembles. In 2021, it was voted as the #1 Wedding Vendor nationwide by The Knot, the leading wedding marketplace in the U.S. More recently, STARROCK has also created a talent partnership division, linking brands to creative influencers to create community and build meaningful awareness.
Today, Claire is now a proud mother of three, including Winston (5), Constantin (2) and Olympia Delphine (1), each of whom have indelibly impacted her outlook as an artist and business woman.
In 2021, Claire’s own mother, Martha Madigan, a photographer and professor of photography at Temple University, was diagnosed with cancer, spurring Claire to create a compilation album of
modern lullabies entitled Modern Lullaby: Volume I and II, for both parents and their children––a throughline between her and Martha, and Claire’s own experience as a mother to her three children.
Reflective of her life’s experience and work to date, Modern Lullaby is a cathartic outpouring of love for her mother, children, and children everywhere, featuring her family’s favorite cover songs in her signature soft and stirring style. Her eldest son, Winston, who found his own voice at 3-years-old, also features on Twinkle – Wonderful World singing backup.
“Kids are now exposed to so much more music than they used to be,” Claire says, “and classical lullabies don’t suffice anymore because of the fast-paced world we live in. My album helps bridge an experience between the parents and children to make bedtime, the last hour of the day, more pleasurable.” Designed to be listened to from dinner to bath and then bed, the album is a gentle, heart-warming reminder for peace in life and the world.
Modern Lullaby is produced by Ken Stacey. The album’s first single, a cover of Beyoncé’s Halo, will be released everywhere April 29, with the entire album released soon thereafter. All proceeds of the album’s sale will go towards autism awareness and advocacy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have lived in Philadelphia, Rome, London, New York City and Los Angeles. There are too many gems to choose from! I currently live in LA near the beach and love taking my family and puppy to Malibu for a beach day. I live to travel and wander.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My children Winston, Constantin, Olympia, and my mother Martha.