What do Mary Todd Lincoln, Rosie the Riveter, Gonzo,
Salsa Dance Louisville and “The Call to the Post” have in common? Angela Bartley. This woman is a Jill-of-all-trades. And being a musician, actress and dancer has taken her many places.
The 38-year-old got her start at University of Louisville, where she earned a full music scholarship for trumpet. With some encouragement from a teacher, she landed the job playing “The Call to the Post” at Churchill Downs at 18. Since, she’s traveled the world learning partner- and Latin-dancing; started her own company, Salsa Dance Louisville; sold 18,000 copies of her album The Sounds of Kentucky; and took up acting. “I can never make up my mind, that’s why I do them all. I love it,” says Bartley, who considers herself a performance artist.
Bartley always seems to find new directions: For instance, her version of “My Old Kentucky Home” was featured in the film “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.”
“(Director Alex Gibney) was surfing for a version of ‘My Old Kentucky Home,’ and he wanted something that was in contrast to the great Hunter S. Thompson’s reputation,” she says. Bartley’s soulful voice grabbed his ear.
In another apparent non sequitur, Bartley was honored recently by a national organization for Lincoln presenters for her portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln. That bug began with her first historical representation of Rosie the Riveter. “Probably most of my development is going to be in the acting area. … I’ve increased my skill little by little, and it’s something that’s new, so it’s kind of a discovery to me,” she says.
Most days, Bartley can be found teaching dance for Salsa Dance Louisville (salsadancelouisville.com) or at the Oldham County Arts Center. “I think dancing, as well as music, uplifts (my students), and that is an important part of something I want to do with my life.” —Cassie Book
Jen Pellerin & Samantha Griffith
Thaniel Ion Lee