NJ Daily Record

Angela Easterling to perform free concert in Randolph Sunday

by Sue Bruskin-Clarke, NJ Daily Record 4-17-10

Singer/songwriter Angela Easterling’s heartfelt lyrics speak volumes about her life and the world around her. It’s only fitting that she’ll be bringing her traditional-based sound to the Randolph Township Public Library this Sunday for a free afternoon show.

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The South Carolina native’s style is best described as “Americana,” a genre that draws from the roots of American musicalt – blues, country, rock, bluegrass – but also has an eye toward the future.

“I never felt that my music was country and it didn’t fit in with folk, but with Americana, there’s a lot of variety,” Easterling says. “I like to put out CDsalt with songs that don’t all sound the same.

“Americana music is very organic without a lot of over-processed dishwater pop,” she says. “There’s a very real quality to it.”

Easterling’s most recent CDalt, “BlackTop Road,” couldn’t get more real, with songs that explore familial ties and human emotions. The title track tells the true tale of her family’s struggle to hold onto its centuries-old farmland in the face of widespread development. Another, “Stars Over the Prairie,” was penned by her great-grandfather in the 1940s.

“This is a very personal album for me,” she says. “There is so much of my family in it. 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.”

Also included on the CD is a cover of the Neil Young hit “Helpless.”

“I am a huge Neil Young fan,” she says. “He’s one of the people I fantasize about performing live with.”

Others include the Indigo Girls, Emmylou Harris and Roger McGuinn, who praised “BlackTop Road,” saying it brought him back to the time The Byrds recorded “Sweetheart of the Rodeo.”

“Roger McGuinn is such an influential person in music and has been so kind to me,” Easterling says. “His complimentary words made me feel that as an indie artist who is struggling to make it, I’m on the right track.”

As a child, Easterling’s list of entertainmentalt idols was quite different than it is now. A self-described fan of musical theater, she grew up listening to Judy Garlandalt, Julie Andrews and Broadway soundtracks, and later went on to major in musical theater at Emerson College in Boston.

“My plan was to go to New York and be on Broadway,” she says.

Things changed freshman year when Easterling purchased her first guitar and discovered the Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, The Carter Family, Hank Williams and others who helped influence her style.

“I still love musical theater, though, and would love to get back to it some day,” she says.

Easterling says her musical theater training ties into her life as an Americana singer.

“With theater training, you learn how to preserve your voice, which is very important, especially when you’re on tour,” she says. “Another thing is the idea of using music to tell a story. Growing up with musical theater, the idea of music telling a story got ingrained in me, so now I like my songs to go somewhere and my performances to go somewhere.”

Stories are a key part of Easterling’s live shows.

“I especially like a library show because it gives me a chance to tell people the stories behind my songs. This gives people who haven’t heard me before something to connect to,” she says.

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