Susan Werner, singer/songwriter with sassy wit and classic Midwestern charm
On Saturday, January 17 Susan Werner will bring her Midwestern charm and acclaimed live performance to the Thrasher Opera House. Farm girl Werner was raised in rural Iowa but began her professional music career in Philadelphia, after studying classical voice at Temple University. Inspired by a Nanci Griffith concert, Werner left behind her opera training and began performing as a singer-songwriter at coffeehouses throughout the northeast. She self-released her first album "Midwestern Saturday Night" in 1992 and then went on to put out "Live at Tin Angel" the following year. In 1995 came her breakout album, BMG/Private Music's "Last of the Good Straight Girls," a folk-pop masterwork that was followed by two terrific albums that added some country and soul sounds to her signature vocal style.
Always ready to reinvent herself, in 2004 Werner released her album of instant songbook classics "I Can't Be New" on Koch Records. For years she incorporated cabaret-style numbers in her live performances, exchanging her guitar for a piano (when there was one to be had), and she'd been asked by her audience to put all those songs in one recording. Fans and critics alike sang her praises: the All Music Guide calling it "a brilliantly constructed, soulful, and cleverly tender effort by a songwriter and musician who is in such complete command of her gifts that it's almost scary."
In 2005 Werner made a splash on satellite radio and in the blogosphere with her "alternative national anthem" entitled "My Strange Nation." For this song, Werner adopted the musical style of a battle hymn, and added lyrics that encompass both the poetry and hypocrisy innate to the United States. 2007 brought the release of "The Gospel Truth," a collection of originals Werner describes as "hymns for the spiritually ambivalent." That project surveyed the wide variety of attitudes toward the Church in America and incorporated styles ranging from traditional bluegrass gospel, in songs such as "My Lord Will Trouble Me," to a hand clapping rouser for agnostics entitled "Probably Not."
With seven albums under her belt including the new “Classics,” an active touring career throughout the U.S. and a string of accolades from the likes of The Washington Post, The Village Voice and The New Yorker, Werner has become one of the defining artists of the folk music genre. Her songs effortlessly slide between folk, jazz and pop, and are delivered with a sassy wit and classic midwestern charm.
As Howard Reich, chief critic of the Chicago Tribune, wrote in 2006: "Werner is one of the most innovative songwriters working today."
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts with accommodations provided by the Heidel House and hospitality by the Waterfront Grill. Tickets are only $18 and available at the Thrasher office, Knowledge Emporium, Green Lake Bank (Green Lake); Pick N’ Save, Ripon Drug (Ripon); Twister (Princeton) or by calling (920) 294-4279. Online tickets available at www.thrasheroperahouse.com.