On the porch and in tune with Chastity Brown

!cid_63a7b537-4820-42f8-92d8-c33d72ec7d84@icloudBY RICHARD TAYLOR

Your correspondent has the good fortune to live upstairs from singer-songwriter Chastity Brown.  We met recently for an interview.
SSP: Why do you make music?
Well, it’s been a compulsion from childhood.  I come from a musical family.  My father played the piano, trombone, and sang, and my brother and sister are both musicians.  I started playing the saxophone when I was 12.  I vividly remember being in the marching band in high school playing the saxophone and being struck by the sound of 250 musicians playing together.  Music has always moved me one way or another.
But when I started writing songs around the age of 16, they took on a more personal nature.  As my sense of music has deepened, I now have a greater ability to articulate it to myself
SSP: You’ve lived in the Powderhorn community for quite a while now.  Does Powderhorn foster or stimulate the work of musicians or other artists?
Yes.  Powderhorn has long had a reputation for radical and progressive politics.  And the community is rich with artists of various media and practices. I find it exhilarating to leave the house, walk down the street and be inspired by a friend a door or two away.  And there is a multitude of varying types of people here. The local cafes and watering holes, say May Day, Modern Times, or the Ice House, which provide a rich cast of characters—the professor, the policeman, the neighbor all interacting with one another.  You can learn a lot about people and communities by spending time in the cafes. Not all, but some of those experiences find their way into my music.
SSP: Tell us a little bit about how your music evolved?   What are some of the influences, musical, regional, or otherwise?
My work has, as my experience of life has, changed and grown.  My first couple of albums were mostly autobiographical, steeped in a newly found feminism.  I was discovering a series of my own truths.  Now I’ve moved from being at the center of my work to taking a bird’s eye view of the human landscape and the world.
And as I’ve changed my approach to song writing, I think my lyrics have become more imaginative.  Early on in my career, I would write a song and that was it—no editing.  Over time I’ve come to learn the value of editing and how to labor over a piece, and that process awakens new creative energies that offer up new insights and understanding.
I grew up in Tennessee, a place long known for the blues, folk, country, rock, and even pop, so these are influences but only in a blanket sense.  A kind of “Americana” style has evolved, where nuances of any of these forms might work their way into a piece I write.
SSP: We live in a world of chronic and widespread political turmoil and upheaval. Do political themes appear in your work?
It frustrates me that people are never at the center of politics in this country where the corporations rule the roost. I’m moved by stories of regular people, working people.  One of my new songs expresses the plight of pensioners in Detroit, people who worked hard all their lives, retired, did everything right, only to see it fall apart through no fault of their own.
My creativity arises out of that sense of immediacy and inspiration. I can’t control what inspires me to write a song. But I do ask myself if what arises is true to the story.  Not literally true, but true to the content in the piece
SSP: Your new single, “Colorado,” is coming out on Sept. 15.  Tell us about it.
It’s the first single I’ve done in America in three years. It’s a snippet of my new body of work, and the purpose of the single is to share and support my upcoming album and trumpet my upcoming European tour.  I also want to promote my Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for my album.  The Kickstarter website is a great place for artists and entrepreneurs to share their work and invite a larger community to be a part of it by helping them raise money.
SSP: Southside Pride knows that you’ve already done two tours in the UK and Europe.  What about this one?
We’re (bandmate/pianist DeVon Gray and I) leaving in September for a five-week tour of Europe—the first two weeks in the UK, including performing at Bush Hall in London.  Then we’ll be performing in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.
SSP: Will you be hitting the pubs and cafes?  
No, not this time. I feel lucky to say we will be playing concert halls, listening rooms and festivals.

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