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Interview with
Candace Asher

February 2002

Ray Grundy
Candace Asher

Can I start first of all by asking you to tell us something about where you grew up and the kind of music you were listening to.

I grew up in New York City and the Catskill Mountains. The Catskills are about 2 1/2 hours north of the city. During the many long rides I took as a kid back and forth between New York and the mountains, I listened to lots of Motown and pop radio, and for years as a kid I attended a summer camp that had many folk singers and acoustic guitarists for counselors. They would play songs by Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Jackson Browne and the Eagles. Of course I loved the Beatles' music, and female singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Janis Ian, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, Carole King, Roseanne Cash and Mary Chapin Carpenter, all inspired my own dreams of becoming a singer/songwriter. Vocally, I liked Linda Ronstadt's and Emmylou Harris' work a lot, too.

Do you come from a musical family?

No. However, I was raised in foster homes and one foster brother's pursuit to become a percussionist was a real eye opener for me while growing up. His commitment to his craft and his circle of musician friends inspired me to pay more attention to my own musical potentials. Do you know I was so shy at the time, I was too scared to even sing around them! I really do not know whether there was any great musical talent in my lineage, but I would venture a guess that going from foster home to foster home certainly influenced my life and my music more than any genetic link could have.

How long have you been writing your own material?

I started dabbling in my teens, however, the first several years at it I put out
scattered and unfocused writing. I was looking for my writer's voice and I began
to find it right before I moved to Nashville almost nine years ago. I took some writing workshops with country songwriting greats Hugh Prestwood, Rodney Crowell and Roseanne Cash while I was still living in New York, commuting to Nashville. I felt like I finally began to find my right direction around then.

As someone who writes the occasional song myself, I am always interested in how a songwriter constructs their songs. Lyrics first or melody. Which way do you tend to write?

Both methods are familiar to me! And there is also a third way I work :-) ! Often, the words and music come to me simultaneously! I actually like that way best!

Who would you say influences your style of music and the way you write the most?

I think all of the artists I mentioned above added colors to my musical and lyrical palette in my formative years when I worked as a cover singer. Once I moved to Nashville, the influence of the works of women artists like Kim Richey, Gretchen Peters, Kathy Mattea,Trisha Yearwood and Nanci Griffith began to influence me. The more I began honing my singing and songwriting identity for the marketplace, these artists sensibilities offered me directions for my own inclinations.

If we can talk about the album. What I like about it most is that all the songs say something, they all have some sort of meaning, which is what I love the most about country music. Do you always try to write that way?

The only reason I ever bother to write a song is when I have something burning inside of me that I must express. I like to try to put what life teaches me into my songs. I often look for an angle in the construction of the song that might inspire other people living through similar experiences too. Music with content was a great comfort to me as a kid, and I guess, I hope I can offer that back now.

The first single from the album, ‘One Tender Tear,’ is a powerful song, that says there are two kinds of tears, tears of happiness as well as tears of sadness and tells of the wish for an abused friend to find someone who will treat her right. Was the song written about someone in particular?

Yes. A very close girlfriend was dating one insensitive guy after another. None of them were taking her seriously. At that time, I was in a relationship making me happy. I wanted her to seek what I had found. And you know what? She did!

Do you find most of your songs come from personal experiences?

Yes. Somehow, everything I write is touched by my own life experience. I may fictionalize to some extent in order to embellish and universalize a concept, but the core of every song originates from a place of personal truth.

Another song I like very much on the album and another that did well on it’s release in Europe, is ‘Slow Dancing.’ A wonderful song, that has the subject reflecting back on the love her parents displayed for each other and wishing her own relationship had a little bit of what they had. Was the song written about your own parents?

No, but I sure do wish it had been written about my own parents! It is based on the parents of a best friend of mine. To me, his stories of his parents dancing behavior and his fascination with watching them represents a hunger for something the older generations seemed to make time for, that being, keeping the romance alive in a marriage. My own personal relationship has suffered greatly from the lack of quality time as a couple. So here is an example of the truth of the song's concept being very much alive for me, yet the actual details to develop the storyline include some fictionalization as well.

If you were to pick a track on the album that you would personally, like to see do really well. Which would it be and why?

There are several songs I would choose. And all for several different reasons! But Ray, you are saying I must pick out only one song, so okay, I am going to go with “Something in Me.” The reason being how much sacrificing I did personally, professionally, relationship-wise and financially to develop my crafts and my dream. I had next to no guidance or support to become anything at all as a child, but there was a force inside of me that demanded my attention. I tried my hand at a few other professional directions in life, but there was an inner voice leading me onward. I put one foot in front of the other, rather blindly, until I finally realized I was recognizing and listening to my muse! It has led me to a certain inner peace for sure.

I know there are so many creative people in the world who are not raised with opportunities to cultivate their talents and gifts, but as adults, we have the power to make choices. I am very proud of the fact that by following that "Something in Me", I have worked my way to a real career at last! I would love it, if this song's message could inspire others to have courage and faith in uncovering and pursuing their dreams, too. Additionally, I do not write songs on my own too much and this song is one I did write by myself. Given this song's subject, that impacts it even more for me.

How would you like to see the future for Candace Asher? How far
would you like to go?

I have always admired Emmylou Harris's and Nanci Griffith's careers. Both of these artists have kept their integrity and been internationally well received. Their country is folk driven too. I would love to have the kind of respect those artists have. If I could ever be thought of in those ranks one day. That is the type of career I would love to build!

I hope I can continue to have the opportunity to make new records every few years and to keep touring for as long as I can. Of course, having some major commercial success would be great fun and validation. Having a hit song in a big movie would be very cool, but being able to create music and make my living as an artist is its own reward.

With the success your music has seen in Europe, are there any
plans for a tour in the near future?

Yes, I am currently organizing my second European tour right now for this coming summer. Last year I had my first tour and the success of "One Tender Tear" at radio helped me succeed around Scandanavia. Slow Dancing's recent radio success around Europe, along with my recent signing with Taxim Records in Germany has helped me land bookings in Switzerland, Denmark and Belgium. Dates in some other countries are still pending. I think the UK will start to see me before long, too, since I just landed an agent there.

Candace, it’s been great talking to you. May I wish you all the best for your future success and thank you for giving your time to do this interview!

Thank you Ray, I am grateful for your interest and support. Please know, the pleasure is indeed mine :-)

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