Folk Roots Radio Episode 600: feat. My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider & More New Releases

Folk Roots Radio Episode 600: feat. My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider & More New Releases

We’ve just released our 600th episode of Folk Roots Radio! To celebrate, we’re pleased to bring you another great interview. Suzie Ungerleider joins us on the show for a wonderful conversation about her latest album. You might not recognize the name Suzie Ungerleider, but if we tell you that she is a two-time Juno nominee and has released ten albums, nine of them under the name Oh Susanna, we’re sure that you now know who she is. Suzie is now making music under her own name and she’s just released a great new recording, “My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider”. As always, we wrap up the episode with more new releases, and this time around they are all by female artists. Join us for new music from ALMA, Annie Sumi, Julie Title, Colleen Power, HEISK, Sierra Ferrell, Valerie Smith and Dar Williams. Check out the full playlist below.

Best 2020

Interview

With the release of her tenth album, two-time Juno nominee Suzie Ungerleider has decided that the time is right to step away from her Oh Susanna stage name and reclaim her own.

“The decision to say “so long” to my long-time moniker Oh Susanna represents the recognition that the “exciting, dark, funny, charming” character that I thought was Oh Susanna was actually Suzie Ungerleider all along. So here I am, leaving behind the trappings of a persona that gave me the courage to climb up on stage and reveal what is in my heart. It once protected me, but I need to take it off so I can be all of who I am.”

“The name change is both a personal and political decision, fuelled by the realization that ‘Oh Susanna,’ the Stephen Foster song of 1848, contained racist imagery and a belief system that I wanted no part of – in particular, its historic association with Minstrelsy, a tradition that is both demeaning and dehumanizing to black people.”

Based again in Vancouver, My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider was created with long-time collaborator and producer Jim Bryson and features ten new songs. Joining Suzie Ungerleider (vocals and guitar) on the recording are Jim Bryson (keyboards, guitars, percussion, harmony vocals, and bass on Roses), Keri Latimer (harmony arrangements, harmony vocals, and theremin), Peter Von Althen (drums on Pumpkins, Baby Blues, Roses, Ships), Bazil Donovan (bass on Mount Royal, Pumpkins, Summerbaby, Baby Blues, Disappear and Ships), Cam Giroux (drums on Sweet Little Sparrow), Philippe Charbonneau (bass on Sweet Little Sparrow), Samantha Parton – harmonies on Sweet Little Sparrow), Kinley Dowling (string arrangement, violin, and viola on Baby Blues) and Kevin Fox (cello on Baby Blues).

Mount Royal
“A romantic song about my time in Montreal when I was just at the end of my teenage years. I had never lived away from home and here I was thousands of miles from where I had grown up. I was still in Canada but I felt like such a foreigner in this French-speaking city. My roommate Zoe was beautiful and tough with a mane of black curly hair, always playing pool at Bar St. Laurent with a cigarette in her mouth. She was emblematic of how we were all trying to pretend we were in control. Meanwhile, I was longing for love and a life in music, but feeling so alone and unable to get there. All the people I knew were trying to act cool yet grappling with impending adulthood and our place in the world, “Who in the hell do we think we are? Shooting for the moon and the stars.”

Summerbaby
“Summerbaby tells the birth story of my kid and my gratitude for her miraculous survival. She was due in October but instead arrived three months early, in July, making her a summer baby. She weighed just 2 pounds 12 ounces. A wee frog-like creature who was scrappy from day one. Just hours after she was born, there were dozens of hot air balloons floating outside my window – perfectly symbolic of the elation that I felt.”

Sweet Little Sparrow
“My friend Bazil (Donovan) and I wrote this tune that is inspired by his five-year-old daughter Dahlia. She loves to sing at the top of her voice in the bathtub when she thinks no one is watching. I wrote these lyrics remembering how it is to be a parent to a young child who flies around with so much energy. You are constantly trying to catch up to them, keeping your head in the clouds all day, lost in their magical imaginary world through which they seem to fly 10,000 feet off the ground. The beautiful video, collages and animation were by my friend and fellow singer-songwriter Christine Fellows. She also used the same technique on a video for Baby Blues.”

For more information about the music of Suzie Ungerleider, visit suzieungerleider.com.

We’ll be releasing the full video interview of our conversation with Suzie Ungerleider shortly. Stay tuned!

SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel to be notified of all our upcoming livestream interviews HERE.

Best 2020

Show Notes

ALMA are three women from NYC who work in film composing and audio engineering. The trio feature Alba S. Torremocha (vocals, strings, bass, drums, guitar, ukelele), Lillie R. McDonough (vocals, piano, glock, violin, hammer dulcimer), and Melissa K. Carter (vocals, guitar). The music on their debut album “Mosaic”, which has a wonderfully cinematic and ethereal indie-pop sound, effortlessly crosses genres from folk, rock, and grunge to pop with liberal use of sounds from the world outside their recording studio. Each song is a moment of time, part of a letter to NYC – the place they call home and touches on city history, personal memories, subway rides, and collective calls to action.

Annie Sumi is just about to release her third studio album “Solastalgia” which is grounded in nature and comes with a strong environmental message, and asks the question: So, where do we go now?

Reading about wildfires, floods, climate refugees, and environmental disasters, led her to feel a sense of detachment and a loss of belonging. Writing songs for the new project became part of her healing process, and an opportunity to re-orient herself within the living world.

“One day, when I was walking through the woods I felt this very real presence of a young girl. I felt like she was skipping all around me and bringing me to all of these off-the-path places. I ended up down by the water watching the Kingfishers dive into the river for fish, the smell of the wet cedars filling me with pure delight, the slowly setting embers of the sun. It was literally MAGIC. I felt like it was the spirit of my “someday child” and they were opening my entire being to a brand new world. How deeply I wish to create a place for them to be safe.”

“Ghost” is the song from Toronto singer-songwriter Julie Title that earned her Ontario Arts Council’s 2021 Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award. Julie has been releasing singles for a year or so now. She is now getting ready to release her first full-length album which was recorded in Toronto and touches on themes surrounding heartbreak and healing.

The ukelele-driven “Purple Aster” comes from Newfoundland & Labrador singer-songwriter Colleen Power‘s latest album “Tales From Downtown West”. As befits a song about nature, it was selected for the 2021 City of St. John’s/MusicNL Summer Trail Mix.

“I’ve always loved asters, particularly purple ones, and am amazed at their ability to grow almost anywhere. I wrote the song last summer after they bloomed in my backyard, having planted some from a road trip the year before.”

The instrumental on this episode is another track from the self-titled debut album from the six-piece female funky folk band HEISK. This time around we’ve gone full crossover with “Disco” which is sure to get people up and dancing, wherever they are and whatever they’re doing. We’re big fans of this type of crossover music. Prince Edward Island’s East Pointers do this very well and it’s a great way to get people interested in genres they didn’t even realize they liked.

Sierra Ferrell started out busking across the US with a band of nomadic musicians, before moving to Nashville where her career really took off. The wonderfully catchy “In Dreams” reflects on the mysteries of life and death. It comes from her Rounder Records debut “Long Time Coming”.

“We’re thrown into this life, then one day we must die. We never ask for either. It’s something that’s up to somebody else or something else. It’s a juggernaut, but so is that great wide river pushing us along.”

Singer-songwriter Valerie Smith‘s latest album “Renaissance” moves from bluegrass to folk to Americana and intentionally celebrates rebirth after a difficult year. The track we play on this episode “The River Whispers” is a song of peace, hope, and healing.

“During the last five years, my own personal theme has been about growing, learning, and forgiving. During the time of COVID, I realized that my next album had to be called Renaissance, an Italian word for rebirth. The songs cover subject areas including love, regret, finding love, acceptance, and redemption. I’ve included some upbeat, happy songs that encourage the listener to “move to the groove” and some lush ballads with meaningful lyrics and melodies that touch the soul.”

We wrapped the episode with “Magical Thinking”, another song from “I’ll Meet You Here”, the latest album from Dar Williams.

“Somehow we have to figure out how to continue to meet the moment and meet one another.”

Image Credit: Stephen Drover.

Listen

You can listen to this episode again on Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)

Playlist

Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)

ALMA
Fall
Mosaic (2021, Self)

Annie Sumi
Wild, Wild Country
Solastalgia (2021, Self) CDN

Julie Title
Ghost
(single) (2020, Self) CDN

Colleen Power
Purple Aster
Tales From Downtown West (2021, Self) CDN

HEISK
Disco
HEISK (2021, Self)

Suzie Ungerleider (formerly Oh Susanna)
Mount Royal
My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider (2021, Stella Records / MVKA) CDN

Interview: Suzie Ungerleider (formerly Oh Susanna) discussing her new album “My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider”.

Suzie Ungerleider (formerly Oh Susanna)
Summerbaby
My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider (2021, Stella Records / MVKA) CDN

Suzie Ungerleider (formerly Oh Susanna)
Sweet Little Sparrow
My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider (2021, Stella Records / MVKA) CDN

Sierra Ferrell
In Dreams
Long Time Coming (2021, Rounder Records)

Valerie Smith
The River Whispers
Renaissance (2021, Bell Buckle Records)

Dar Williams
Magical Thinking
I’ll Meet You Here (2021, Renew Records)

About the author

JAN HALL

Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005 before developing into a syndicated radio show. As the host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan focuses on bringing new folk, roots and blues music and the voices of upcoming and independent artists to the airwaves. Jan is also a much sought after stage host and festival emcee. In 2019, Jan Hall received Folk Music Ontario's prestigious Estelle Klein Award for her contribution to Ontario's folk music community.

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