Live Your Passion TV with Stacie Zinn Roberts

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House Concerts Part 3 – Singer Alice Howe

Alice Howe

Episode 34 - Aired 9.4.13

I first saw Alice Howe perform her unique brand of contemporary folk at a house concert in Seattle where she sang harmony with the great Antje Duvekot. In this episode of Live Your Passion TV, we explore the emerging singer-songwriter experience as Alice Howe is living it.

Born in Boston, now living in Seattle, Alice Howe has been compared to a young Joan Baez. I think that’s a pretty good description.

To learn more about Alice Howe, and to purchase her music, visit www.AliceHowe.com

Here’s Alice’s bio in her own words:

I write and sing of a story that is at once my own and that of my audience. It is a core of deeply honest human experience that defines my work, allowing others to find themselves in my songs.  In a sense, this may be said to be the truth of folk music, the story told indefinitely of love and loss, joy and sorrow. It is that standard of timelessness to which I rise.

From an early age, I was riveted by traditional folk music sung by the revivalists of the 20th century, and found that for me, there would be no substitute for music that cuts plainly to the heart with the simple beauty of good storytelling.  When I began writing lyrics at 10 years old, I followed my thirst to tell stories, guided by the artists that shaped my musical consciousness.  For as long as I can remember, songwriting has defined me: it is how I process my experiences, how I praise the people and places close to my heart, and how I practice self-reflection. As a girl I developed the habit of walking around my neighborhood on rainy nights, singing aloud to myself whatever words and melodies came to mind, and later rushing home to record them.  Even now, the rain fills me with the desire to write, transporting me to the cool, humid evenings of my memory.

There is no doubt that I love singing to myself.  But I have always found great joy in performing, and for nearly nine years I have been sharing my original music with all kinds of audiences, from New England to Spain to the Northwest.  The performances that have defined my career thus far stand out as moments of pure fulfillment: in 2005, an early success came at the Stowe Farmers’ Market in Stowe, Vermont, where I played as the featured artist for no less than four hours, harmonizing with my father and brother on a bright and bitter October day; five years later, at the Red Curtain Music Series in Portland, Maine, I performed as part of a monthly singer-songwriter showcase after the event organizer saw my set at the Club Passim open mic in Harvard Square; during my time as a student in Córdoba, Spain, I was blessed with the opportunity to perform at local bar and music venue el Automático, where my Spanish-speaking audience lovingly welcomed me as an ambassador of American folk music; and most recently, in October of 2013, I performed a song inspired by Jim Bouton’s baseball memoir Ball Four with the Bushwick Book Club of Seattle, the first of what will surely be many performances in the Seattle area.

As a performer and as a songwriter, I hold out my music without reservation, finding catharsis in the acts of creating and sharing.  I have called my newest album, “The Clearing” (2013), “nothing less than an autobiography,” and it is true that in my lyrics I profess love, admit guilt and heartbreak, and acknowledge the human condition, knowing that through my honesty I will touch upon shared experience with my listeners.  I am a firm believer in the universal nature of our human experience, one that stretches across countries, continents, and languages, and even reaches back into the past.  As an undergraduate at Smith College, I was a medieval history major, and have always found the mystery of the past to be a rich source of inspiration.  I often enjoy using songwriting as a chance to step into other voices, occupying distant historical contexts and individuals.  Disparate as they may seem at first, my love of folk music and my love of medieval history are well suited to each other.  Through my sense of companionship with the past, I learn to cleanly access the emotions and experiences that define us.

Howe’s music is anything but fleeting. It lingers in the heart and mind, unforgettable both for the skill of its lyrics and for the rhythm and tone of her uncannily clear voice. In concert, she is solidly comfortable, described by her contemporaries as having a presence that is “classic” and true.  Newly relocated to Seattle after a lifetime spent in New England, this is surely only the beginning for Alice Howe.