Daily Progress

Music made from the heart and home

Easterling finds inspiration for songs in her own backyard

By Mary Alice Blackwell | Daily Progress correspondent Charlottesville, VA

There are lots and lots of good singers.

But sometimes, in order to get noticed, you have to have something to sing about.

Angela Easterling found some inspiration in her own back yard.

Easterling grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her mother’s family farm, which dated back to 1791, had been home to seven generations.

But, as for many farmers, the times were a changing for Easterling’s family.

Progress trumped potatoes.

A road was cut through the property. She used her family’s struggle to hold on to the homeland to create her second album, “BlackTop Road.”

She calls it a personal album.

“There is so much of my family in it,” she noted on her Web site. “The themes are family and home and looking for a home.

“I think there is also a theme of where the past, present and future intersect and have an effect on each other. Sometimes it seems like the future is trying to destroy the past. But we can’t escape the past; it still haunts us.”

Her voice, which has been described as everything from a “dynamite honky-tonk singer” to “Steve Earle, if he was reborn as a girl,” has something to say.

This Sunday, she will sing her story at the Village Concerts in Palmyra.

“As much as I love writing, a song doesn’t seem real until you have shared it with others,” she added. “Then it takes on a life of its own and doesn’t belong to me anymore, it belongs to everyone.

“I feel so blessed and fortunate to be able to make my way through the world by sharing my music and my stories.”

Her debut album, “Earning Her Wings,” was named an Americana Pick of the Year by Smart Choice Music. “BlackTop Road” followed in July 2009.

Her second CD added a little more oomph, thanks to producer Will Kimbrough, who has worked with the likes of Rodney Crowell and Jimmy Buffett. “BlackTop Road” debuted in the Americanatop 40 for airplay and was named a top pick in both Oxford American and Country Weekly.

“I produced Angela Easterling’s record, but all I had to do is show up for class and play along,” noted Kimbrough, who filled in as a musician as well as a producer. “She is a powerful, focused artist who has done her homework – rock ‘n’ roll, country, bluegrass, literature and French pop.”

That’s right. She’s a little bit country; a little bit folk GǪ with a little bit of alt thrown in.”

And don’t forget: She’s got a personal story to tell.

Easterling was selected as a New Folk finalist at 2009 Kerrville Folk Festival and offered an official showcase at this year’s Americana Music Conference.

You may be more familiar with her sound than you think. She has been featured in commercials for Southwestern Bell, while Animal Planet has made the most of several of her songs on its TV series “Horsepower.”

On Sunday, Easterling will be joined by another South Carolina native – one of her bandmates, Brandon Turner.

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