Photo by Todd V. Wolfson
It seems Suzanna Choffel has been connected to music since birth. Named after Leonard Cohen’s song “Suzanne,” she was born in Austin in 1980 and, with a passion for singing, she quickly got involved with the city’s growing music scene. At age 14, she walked onto a stage for the first time as a member of the R&B band Red-Headed Stepchild, performing at iconic venues such as Continental Club, the Saxon Pub, and Broken Spoke. As much as she sang, she watched, and it was after seeing Patty Griffin strumming at Cactus Café in the late ’90s that Choffel knew she needed to teach herself guitar — a decision that launched her further into the world of songwriting.
Austin wasn’t the only city that she immersed herself in musically. Attending both Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos and College of Santa Fe, she found herself in numerous bands — from Latin rock groups to jazz fusion ensembles. Wherever she went, however, it was her vocals that made her stand out; a blend of pop and jazz, a hint of soul, and the percussive syncopation of world brought dimension and texture to every project she was involved in.
Deeming it time to work on her own music, she headed home to Austin in 2003 and released her debut album three years later: Shudders & Rings.
This song was created on the day I was born / it was in the first breath that I took / like a pre-written fate hidden in a chapter / in a choose-your-own-adventure book, she sings on the album’s first track. Maybe it was fate after all: the LP was widely praised and led to her first tour as a bandleader.
Since then, Choffel has been on the lineup for numerous events and festivals, including South by Southwest, the CMJ Music Marathon, Voodoo Experience Festival, and ACL Fest. Off the stage, her music has been featured in commercials and has won numerous awards, such as third place in the performance category of the 2012 International Songwriting Competition.
After a successful tour through France, she released her latest album, Hello Goodbye, in 2017. True to its name, it was after this record that she decided to say au revoir to travel and bonjour to Austin once again — this time to take a pause from music and start a family. Today, you can find her hosting a daily radio show on Sun Radio, where she shares some of her favorite tracks and new vinyl favorites. Want to hear her live?
See her live at Still Austin Whiskey on March 19 for Austin Monthly’s annual Bands to Watch event.
5 Fun Facts About Suzanna Choffel
1 / As a child, she recorded some of her earliest songs on a karaoke machine, singing over simple pop beats and keyboard melodies.
2 / While attending College of Santa Fe (now Santa Fe University of Art and Design), she could often be found participating in freestyle raps with Ben Haggerty—who later became known as Macklemore.
3 / In 2008, she was a cover girl for The Austin Chronicle, which called her “the next fun, fearless, female rock star.”
4 / A trip to Brazil inspired her first album.
5 / Choffel appeared on the third season of NBC’s The Voice, where she won a spot on Blake Shelton’s team.