“Mon secret” (My Secret) by Angela Easterling
Out February 14, 2012
Angela Easterling is a farm-raised, South Carolina-bred All-American girl; her country roots run deep, and her music carries the flavor of her distinctly American culture and upbringing. So why would she do an album of original songs in French? Angela’s answer, “Why not?” she laughs. Why not, indeed, when the result speaks for itself: a combination of sweet southern Americana music and the lovely, romantic language spoken along The Seine, coming together to create something truly unique and unexpected on her new album, Mon secret.
Easterling wrote the lyrics for these songs with Marianne Bessy, assistant professor of French at Furman University, and a native of Rennes in Brittany (Bretagne). The project came about after the two worked together on a French translation of Angela’s song “One Microphone” from her 2009 release BlackTop Road. “I did the first translation and sent the song to Marianne. She made changes and sent it back to me and we went back and forth like that until we were both happy with the lyrics.” The result “Un microphone” was a bonus track on BlackTop Road and is included on this new album in a remastered version. “Un microphone’ was such a joyful discovery for me”, says Angela. “I never would have thought I would have an original song in French. What I found was that singing in French brought out a different, softer quality in my voice, and the French language seemed to merge quite well with my music. It inspired me to want to do more.”
Even with the help of a native Francophone, writing in French proved to be quite a challenge. “The songs have to be poetic, they still have to rhyme, they still have to work with the timing and rhythm of the music – it was quite a work-out for my brain!” Angela admits. “There are sayings and expressions in French that we don’t have in English and vice versa. But the challenge of it, and just seeing if we could do it was part of the fun”. Another test was mastering the pronunciation in her vocal. Here, the co-writer Marianne became a dialogue coach, endlessly going over the songs again and again until Angela got them right. “We practiced a lot. I had a recording of Marianne reading every lyric and I practiced with it every day leading up to my recording sessions. I would record versions of the songs and send them to her and she would send me notes back on what I needed to work on. There is no way I could have done this album without her.”
Musically, the album bears the hallmark of Easterling’s style, with her country and folk and bluegrass influences shining through. A host of great players and producers from Los Angeles to Nashville to Spartanburg, South Carolina lend their talents here. Several songs were produced by Brandon Turner, the outstanding guitarist in Easterling’s band, The Beguilers. “This was our first time working together in this capacity with Brandon as a producer, and I’m really happy with the results. I hope we can do more of this in the future.”
The album’s title “Mon secret” (My Secret) comes from the opening song of the same name. A love song written for a love that had to be expressed, but was not to be and so remains a secret. As any album released on Valentine’s Day should, Mon secret does lean more heavily on a love and romance theme than any of Easterling’s other albums. “I guess My Secret is that I really am a sentimental and romantic person, although I try to keep that part of myself hidden because I feel sheepish about it. Singing in French gives me an opportunity to share things about myself that I would probably be embarrassed to say in a language my parents could understand!” she grins. “This album is quite intimate and personal and revealing. It gives away a lot of my secrets.”
“This project was a huge challenge just to see if I could pull it off”, Angela says. “But it was so rewarding. I love the French language; I think it is so beautiful. I wanted to make this album to celebrate the beauty of that language. Singing and speaking in another language is such a pleasure. Even though I knew what I was singing about, I could almost separate myself from the meaning of word and just bask in the luxury of the sound of the word. It’s like a different flavor in your mouth. Imagine if all you ever ate was spaghetti, wouldn’t you want some tacos or sushi or a steak sometime? To me, language is like that. I think that here in America, we sometimes deny ourselves the joy of experiencing other languages. For me, trying to communicate my ideas in French seemed to open up a whole other part of my brain. It made me think of different ways I could have expressed myself in English. I think and I hope it will make me a better writer overall, in the long run.”
Easterling is a two-time Kerrville New Folk Finalist and a 2011 Telluride Troubadour Finalist. The Boston Herald named her song “The Picture” “Best Political Country Song” in their 2009 Year’s best music. Her music was featured in commercials (Southwestern Bell) and several of her songs were used in the series "Horsepower" on Animal Planet. Angela has appeared on the nationally broadcast public radio program “Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know” and was also recently interviewed by noted NPR journalist Bob Edwards. She has received much airplay on Sirius/XM “Outlaw Country” channel and was recently invited to perform at the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit New Harmonies: Celebrating American Root’s Music.
Download the French lyrics, plus English translations and full album credits at www.angelaeasterling.com