This week on Art of the Song, the contemporary folk artist, singer-songwriter Susan Werner will be featured.
Born and raised near Manchester, Iowa, Werner became interested in music at a young age and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in voice at the University of Iowa. In 1987, she moved to Philadelphia, and soon earned a master’s degree in voice at Temple University. Werner initially wanted a career in opera, but after seeing a Nanci Griffith performance became inspired and began composing songs of her own on acoustic guitar.
Performing around Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City, Susan began making a name for herself in the folk scene of the early 1990s. She recorded five albums from 1993 to 2001, and eventually moved to Chicago. Her first five albums were all in the folk genre, but Werner’s sixth album, I Can’t Be New (2004), was a substantial departure, with original material in the vein of Tin Pan Alley, cabaret, and early jazz torch songs.
Werner’s seventh album, The Gospel Truth, was released in March 2007 and addresses themes of religion, faith, social responsibility, as well as religion from an Agnostic’s point of view.Her eighth album, Live at Club Passim is collection of original songs (gospel, jazz & folk) recorded with her band: Colleen Sexton, Trina Hamlin & bassist Greg Holt. For her ninth album, Classics, she performs pop music from the 1960s and 1970s accompanied by chamber instruments.
In 2010, Tom Jones recorded Susan’s song “Did Trouble Me” for his album “Praise and Blame”.
Her latest album, entitled “Kicking the Beehive,” was released in March 2011. Produced by Rodney Crowell, it features guest appearances from Vince Gill, Keb’ Mo and Paul Franklin. Her next album, Hayseed, 11 new SW songs on farms, farmers, and the people who love them will be released in mid-2013.