by Karim Doumar
Angela Easterling’s new album, Common Law Wife, explores many timely and relatable topics.
“I’m a new mom so there’s a lot of things that relate to that on [the new album] but I’m also really interested in American History,” Easterling said. She tries to bring in some songs with historical context. Additionally, Easterling is fascinated by social issues. The result is a diverse album with a swath of different themes.
Easterling explores “things that draw my interest and things that I think will be relevant to my audience,” she said.
Though the new album will not be released until August 11, some of it will be performed and the CD will be for sale at her August 9 concert at Sleepy Hollow Folk Club at 6 p.m.
Having recently become a mother – Easterling’s child is a mere 2 years old – much of her newest album is about the challenges and joys of motherhood.
“It’s a huge source of inspiration for me,” she said of her toddler. As most parents will most likely attest to, Easterling’s entrance into the world of parenting has changed her perspective on life. “Instead of living a life that revolves around me, I have somebody else that I have to take care of and who needs me,” she said. Easterling has been lucky to identify and benefit from what she refers to as the freeing aspect of parenting as it has caused her to have “some freedom from my own ego,” she said.
Her music about parenting is successful because Easterling tries “to get as deep with it as I can but also talk about the joys of it as well,” she said. Her goal is that people with and without children will be able to relate to these songs.
In addition to motherhood, Easterling loves to explore history and social issues in her music. In her newest album there’s a song about an African American World War II veteran who, upon his honorable discharge and subsequent return home to South Carolina, is beaten by local police authorities until he is blind.
“He was still in his uniform when he was pulled off a bus and beaten,” Easterling said.
Originally, the song was supposed to act only as a history lesson but in August of last year, it took on a whole new meaning.
“I wrote that song last year before all of this stuff sort of came in the news,” she said, referring to the recent publicity and coverage of police brutality and racism. “We were in the studio recording [the song] while the whole thing in Ferguson was going down,” she said. With this recent scrutiny of police, the song now holds extra weight. It is a powerful artistic representation of the fact that the events we see today involving police racism and brutality are not new but are part of a long and dark history of violent bigotry in this country.
“A lot of people have brought up that it means something to them nowadays because even though it’s about something historical, it seems to relate and that was completely unintentional on my part,” she said. Of course, in order to spread this powerful message, Easterling must tour to show her music around the country. This is no easy feat with a two-year-old at home.
“In order to make a living, I have to go on the road and I can’t really go on the road as much as I used to,” she said. Easterling can do this through the support of her family who dutifully care for her child while she tours.
Easterling struggles to balance her career as a musician and her life as a mother but she loves everything about both.
“It’s a juggling act,” she said “but it’s worth it.”
• For more information about Angela Easterling, visit angelaeasterling.com.