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Leah Zicari, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, calls herself "a white woman with a guitar."

Even so, to lump her in with, well, other white women with guitars, would be a disservice. Where some spew venom in angry lyrics and strike abrasive chords, Zicari uses sharp wit and unapologetically honest words against a background of lyrical music that has been repeatedly called "gorgeous" by reviewers nationwide.

Stylistically, Zicari easily slides from a folk song into country and the blues. "I like to hear different styles because I don't want to be bored with one style," Zicari says. "And I think the audience likes it, too."

Her diverse musical interests are rooted in her childhood. Her father, the late Dick Zicari, was a well-known audio engineer who worked with Ike and Tina Turner, Chuck Mangione and Carly Simon, among others, and was Joni Mitchell's sound designer for more than a decade.

Today, she is more versatile than ever. The classically trained guitarist and songwriter has appeared at festivals and clubs nationwide, performed musically in productions including "Man of La Mancha" and "West Side Story," and has even acted on stage.

In June, Zicari unveiled her new trio with drummer Nick Coralla and bassist Gino Rzeznik. "I thought it would give my music a fresher sound and a fuller sound," she says. "I wanted to put my music in a fresh context and open ideas for other musical possibilities." One possibility is an all-jazz standards set where Zicari can utilize her current jazz guitar lessons. In any case, Zicari's future is full of endless possibilities.

"I always wanted to be in music. "I didn't know musically in what capacity, and to tell you the truth I still don't," the personable Zicari says with a laugh. "As long as I'm doing something in music, whether it's playing my original songs, playing guitar in the theater, or playing classical guitar in a wedding. I just want to play. I need to play."

"The Choice is Yours," Glenn Colton. Encouraging words and lessons to be learned are wrapped around catchy choruses on Colton's 14-song debut CD (he previously released two cassettes) packed with tunes from his popular educational concerts. The songs are kept simple to not detract from their meaning and Colton uses terms of endearment like "kiddo" to keep it personable. His positive messages touch on a variety of concerns facing kids -- with words of wisdom for adults, too -- making the CD an invaluable asset for the home and classroom. The bluegrass number "My Life is Valuable" is about making healthy choices on everything from eating right to not picking up that first cigarette or drink. "The Choice is Yours" is an interesting song about understanding the point of view of others when you don't get your way. Dark times will pass in "I'm All Right Now," and the uplifting "I Can" is about believing in yourself.

-- Toni Ruberto

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