Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh at The Alberta Rose Theater Portland, Oregon
While leaving Gretchen Peter’s show, it occurs to you, You’ve just heard one of Nashville’s finest singer songwriters. The title track off her new album, Hello Cruel World, is a testament to surviving a year of events which can batter the soul, dent the psyche and strain the spirit. While persevering through loss creates an affirmation of life, and one’s appreciation for surviving adversity. “The grain of sand becomes the pearl.” Ms. Peters referred to herself as a child of the sixties who like so many of us was influenced by the images on the t.v. screen of civil rights marches, the moon landing, Kennedy’s assassination as well as Viet Nam. Gretchen Peters however, experienced the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of slain leader Medgar Ever’s children, who came to live with the Peters family in Westchester County New York. Gretchen’s dad, a journalist covering the civil rights movement at the time, wrote a book with Ever’s widow. The song Idlewild evokes memories of these events. The album is a beautiful collection of songs, and Peter’s performed only one song not from the new release, On a Bus To St. Cloud. Husband Barry Walsh, whose accompanies on piano (accordian on The Matador) and vocal harmonies, enhance the mood and textures of these skillfully written and well performed songs. Narratives of a working mother, a woman having trysts, a testament to moving through pain, these are the voices I go to hear. In each of these songs there is a compelling tug on the human spirit. Support Gretchen Peters, buy her music, go to a show. We need these story tellers not only to entertain, but to help us navigate the intangible landscape of our emotions.