Andra Suchy

March 20, 2012

Garrison Keillor and Andra Suchy

How was recording and writing Little Heart different from that of Patchwork Story?

Patchwork Story is made up of songs that I had been writing over a course of a few years during which I was singing with several different bands and had more diverse influences. It is more of a "patchwork" album. For Little Heart we decided to come from more of a artistically definitive and storytelling point of view. I think the songs are more cohesive and define me more as far as the type of songwriter and artist I am.

One of my favorite songs is "90MPH," which seems upbeat and fun. It is also a song in which your father sings backing vocals.

First of all, thank you! That one seems to be a favorite of quite a few people so far. What's funny is Dad actually sang his vocals over the phone! It just happened that way and I think it turned out well. I have recorded with my Dad before (in person) and it is always fun. It's sort of like taking a photograph. It preserves a moment in time.

How did you come up with "90MPH?"

We (Andrew and I) participated in a 36 hour songwriting contest (you are emailed the topic, then perform the song 36 hours later) for Rift magazine. The topic was public transportation. Andrew and I had recently played a few gigs in Chicago and had been talking about how next time it would be neat to take the train to avoid the traffic driving into the city. It was an exciting challenge and we also got a song out of the deal!

"Little Heart," from the September 5, 2009 broadcast

A few years back, for one of our first guest interviews, you discussed a song which you performed on the show called "Little Heart" which you had said could possibly be the title track of a new project you were working on. It is a song which was inspired by your grandparents' and great grandparents' struggles and triumphs farming and raising their families in sometimes very harsh conditions, but with great amounts of courage, creativity and love. The song felt a bit more acoustic and organic when first performed on A Prairie Home Companion. How did you come up with the new arrangement?

Well, we had the talents of many inspiring musicians to work with and it evolved as we went along and blended everything. Basically, the recording is enhanced with a few more instruments like Ketch's awesome fiddle part, etc. The heart of the song is the same, and when we play it live it can sound different depending on if it's just Andrew and I or a full band.

Tell us about the song "Georgiana". It is a song your father recorded and your version features Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show on Fiddle and APHC semi-regular Joe Savage.

Well, it is a true story about a woman from the Mandan/Bismarck area, Georgianna Borden. My dad is great at writing beautiful, historical true story-songs and this is one of them. Initially, I fell in love with the melody and loved to sing it. Then, we realized that the story fit in with the theme of Little Heart so we thought it would make a welcome addition to the record.

What can we expect at the CD release party on March 27th at the Varsity Theater?

There are three acts on the show. Mad Margaret, which is a really great female duo. Then me with my band, The Roll Of Pennies, which is made up of many great musicians including JT Bates, Joe Savage, my husband Andrew Pierzina, George McKelvey, Bethany Larson, Tom Peterson, and more! I will have some special guest additions as well, including Adam Levy. Then Tim Mahoney, a long time friend, is going to play a set. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing musicians. I think the night will be fantastic.

When did you first know you wanted to be a singer?

I don't think it ever hit me, it was just something that I'd always done. It would have been weirder to take on a different job.

What is your favorite duet to sing with Garrison?

"Bramble and the Rose." It was one of the first ones that we ever did together and I think it suits us and it has some sentimental value for me, too.

In addition to gearing up for the release of Little Heart, which will be celebrated at the Varsity Theater on Tuesday, March 27, Andra will be staying busy with her work on A Prairie Home Companion and exploring collaborations both new and old. She will be touring with her husband, guitar player and producer Andrew Pierzina, to support the release of Little Heart.

"And then I want to write another record," she enthuses. "Playing with different people generally inspires my writing, and I'm so inspired by the people I have been playing with." To keep up with her whereabouts and activities, please visit her website.

Read our February 2010 interview with Andra

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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