Women of Charlottesville

Highlighting the unique and diverse amazing women of Charlottesville, VA.

Richelle Claiborne

This is Richelle Claiborne. She is endearing and fun loving and an incredibly talented woman here in Cville. And, she’s also a newlywed! Richelle and her husband, Todd, got married during the pandemic! We were able to capture a little of their newlywed bliss during the shoot. We met for her shoot early in the morning as strangers, but I left the shoot feeling as though I’d made a new friend. We laughed a lot during the shoot. At one point she sang for me–and I had chills. We captured some of those shots, and I hope you can feel that power–it was a beautiful moment. When she’s not bellowing her smokey, sultry, strong voice, you will find her working hard at The Renaissance School, in Charlottesville, where she is the director of admissions. Enjoy Richelle’s interview!

Richelle, please tell us a little bit about yourself. . .

I am a Charlottesville native that has performed up and down the East Coast singing everything from jazz to metal to my own blend of original tunes and spoken word poetry aptly named “The Richelle Show”. My musical styling is an eclectic mix of genres and attitudes, and my soulful voice will move you. I am not only a singer, but an actress and a poet and have written 2 albums, several chapbooks, a one-woman show, and have made music with countless other gifted musicians for the past 25 years.

When I’m not making music, I enjoy reading, cooking, and spending time with my husband and daughter.

us: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
her: Just coffee.

us: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
her: Not in my universe. Ever. Under any circumstances.

us: Do you sleep in your socks?
her: No way!

us: What’s your go-to midnight snack?
her: Cheese and crackers, with or without turkey pepperoni

us: Mountains or beach?
her: Beach

us: Current favorite song?
her: The Savage remix–The line “If you don’t jump to put jeans on Baby you don’t feel my pain” is my whole life right now.

us: Salty or sweet?

her: Salty

us: Pet peeve?

her: Talking while chewing food. So gross.

us: Room entrance song:

her: Foxy Lady by Jimi Hendrix.

us: Favorite place you’ve traveled to?

her: This little yurt in Amherst, VA where I spent my honeymoon. Then Florence,

us: What’s your favorite room in your house?

her: The kitchen! I love to cook.

us: Who has been the most influential woman in your life?

her: My Gee-Gee. She was my great-great aunt and a powerful force in my life.

us: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

her: Motherhood.

us: If you could give your younger self a single piece of advice, what would it be?

her: You’re already worthy of every good thing in this world.

us: Can you tell us about a challenge that you’ve overcome?

her: This is really hard. Life is a challenge, and I feel like every day I wake up, I have
an opportunity to be a better person and make better decisions. There is no
down time if you take your path to enlightenment/growth/development seriously,
which I do. Every moment that I choose to show love, compassion, empathy or
generosity is a check in the “Win” column against my Ego. What could be more
challenging than that?

us: Favorite Quote?

her: “My money is funny and my change is strange.” – Ntozake Shange

us: Where do you find your inspiration?

her: Literally anywhere. Overheard bits of other people’s conversations, tv, movies, my own experiences…anywhere.

us: Any funny or embarrassing nicknames we should know about?

her: When I was little, a neighbor used to call me Peanut Butter.

us: Any hidden talents we should know about?

her: I make amazing empanadas from scratch.

us: What are you most thankful for?

her: My family.

us: What is your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville?

her: This is where I was born and raised. It’s nice to be able to raise my daughter here.

Quarantine Specific Additions:

us: Tell us one lesson you’ve learned during your quarantine experience?

her: People really never washed their hands before!

us: Favorite show to binge watch?

her: Chopped

us: Favorite local business to support during quarantine?

her: Chimm and Bodo’s tie.

us: Have you taken on new hobbies or discovered a new talent during this time indoors?

her: No, I’ve used this time to work on the ones I already had.

us: What’s one thing you can’t live without right now?

her: Ice cream sundaes. I don’t have one every day, but 2-3 times a week I just have to. With LOTS of cherries on top.

Thank you for sharing Richelle!