ENTERPRISE, Ore – Wallowa County’s own Meredith Brann celebrates the release of her inaugural album, “Balance,” at the OK Theatre June 14.
In her first recording venture Brann balances original songwriting with songs she’s collected into her repertoire showcasing her powerful voice. Born into a musical family, Brann’s first public appearance was as an eight year old on the OK Theatre stage, more than four years before her family bought the historic venue.
“My father heard me singing Woody Guthrie’s ‘Do Re Mi’ in my room and suggested we perform it together,” Brann said.
Almost 10 years later her voice has become well known, performing with different ensembles both at the theater and around Wallowa County. A classically trained violinist, Brann said she was encouraged to learn the fiddle in recent years and attended two camps led by Grammy winning fiddler Mark O’Connor.
Bluegrass’ ever growing popularity provides an outlet for her fiddle skills, and she has ample opportunities to sit in with various country bands, but the violin is her first love.
Brann said, “I love playing the violin alone and I want to get better at doing it on stage, but singing and playing fiddle on stage I really enjoy – that’s a happy place for me. Music has just been a part of my life my entire life a way that I can show my emotion or a part of myself. I will always play music whether I am on stage or not.”
Recording an album turned out to be a happy place for her as well, working with Bart Budwig who produces under the OK Records label.
“I loved being able to execute the original songs and put the album together and see it working,” Brann said. “ I had so much fun and didn’t get tired of doing it at all!”
Through her teen years Brann has performed songs like, “Oh, Atlanta” from Alison Krause, “Hit the Road, Jack” by Ray Charles and “She’s Got You” by Patsy Cline, a song her grandmother performed in her country band.
Starting out with an album balanced between originals and favorite renditions is just a start, Brann said she hopes to eventually do an album entirely of her own work. Writing songs since she was 14, she chose the ones she felt the best about, including the album title song, “Balance.”
When writing, she said she tired to work hard specifically on the music, first.
“It’s important to make the words and music fit together and make it beautiful,” Brann said. “I let the chords lead me – I think they are more of an emotional connection than the words. It’s the music that brings out what I’m thinking – what I want to say.”
“Oh, Atlanta” written by Mick Ralphs and performed by Alison Krauss, is on the album, along with some songs Brann said people might not be expecting, like a Brazilian-style Bossa Nova tune and a lot of jazz influence from her Uncle, Craig Brann, featured on the album.
Also featured and playing with her live are her father, Darrell, mom, Christy, her Aunt Caitlin Hostetter, Cooper Trail on drums, Nevada Sowle on bass and Caleb Samples on fiddle. An assortment of other family members will also share the stage with her at the album release party.
Making the album solidified her future plans, Brann said, to play music around northern Idaho as she attends New St. Andrew’s College in Moscow while she appie to music programs around the country.
“Having the theater helped me know what I really wanted,” Brann said.
Meredith Brann takes the stage at the OK Theatre at 7 p.m. June 14. Tickets are $15 and available at www.eventbrite.com.