Stacey Earle – Making her own name
Family and self-reliance are two concepts central to Stacey Earle’s life and career. While her brother Steve’s dramatic ups and downs have been the subject of news reports and magazine profiles, Stacey has experienced considerable personal turbulence without all the public attention. But this relative anonymity may be a thing of the past as Stacey begins to make her own mark in the music business.
Stacey recently released her debut CD, Simple Gearle, on her own label, Gearle [pronounced “girl”] Records, with distribution through E-Squared (the company owned by her brother and Jack Emerson). The songs on Simple Gearle are all written and sung by Stacey and presented in straightforward, acoustic-based arrangements, with a homespun country-folk feel that recalls Nanci Griffith’s early efforts.
There is little about Simple Gearle, however, that will call immediately to mind any of Steve Earle’s various musical incarnations, despite the harmony vocal track he adds on “Losers Weep”, one of Stacey’s most personal and striking songs. It’s a sorrow-tinged account of a youthful “secret” remembered: Stacey got pregnant at 16 and, with the help and guidance of her family, decided to put her baby up for adoption. She refers to the boy in the song as “Someone I left behind/We were both babies at the time.”
“I wasn’t a bad girl,” she says, with an honestly and directness that is disarming. “I was a young girl who thought that she was in love. I wish I could have gone to the senior prom, you know, and worn one of those big old ugly mums, but it wasn’t to be.”
Instead, like her older brother who repeatedly ran away from home to pursue his dreams, Stacey made numerous fateful decisions, exercising the “self-reliance” she is now known for. She dropped out of school, moved out on her own, got married (to guitarist Mark Stuart), had two “wonderful” boys, raised a family, and pursued a career as a songwriter and performer. And, through all this, like her brother, she has also managed to stay “very close” to her parents and four siblings.
The Earles were, in Stacey’s words, “a musical family, but not a Partridge Family thing where we all sat around playing instruments. My parents and the whole family loved musicals, and we sang songs from musicals on trips in the family station wagon. But it was not like the Jackson Five, where their father drove everyone to pursue a career. Music, for us, was fun.
“This is a family that’s been through a lot, but through it all, we’ve gotten stronger.”