Anne Heaton brings inspiration on To the Light | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Anne Heaton brings inspiration on To the Light 

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click to enlarge Anne Heaton

Anne Heaton

Courtesy of Chart Room Media

Wilmette-born, Milwaukee-based pianist and singer-songwriter Anne Heaton started learning classical piano at three years old, and since then she’s immersed herself in a variety of music. After studying at Notre Dame in the 90s, Heaton moved to New York, where she sang in in a Harlem gospel choir and toured in a band with jazz drummer Max Roach, among other things. Heaton also wrote her own material, and in 2002 she released her debut album, Black Notebook. Though the lyrics and melodies of its piano-driven folk-pop songs recall artists such as Dar Williams and Sam Phillips, she always enchants with a clear-hearted delivery that’s distinctively her own. On “Let Yourself Be” from her new CD, November’s To the Light (Spill), she offers a gentle, inspiring nudge of self-love to the listener: over a rainfall of strings and drums, she sings, “Now it’s black every morning / It’s black every night / You will still rise.” The album (which includes an accompanying book of her lyrics and short writings) contains songs inspired by her collaborative work with other songwriters over the past decade, including fellow members of Boston-based women’s singer-songwriter collective Winterbloom. Some of the songs also draw upon the writings of Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön, which helps give the record its soothing, spiritual touch. This hometown show is also a release party for To the Light, and Heaton will be joined for parts of her headlining set by opening artists Jenny Bienemann and Anne Harris as well as local songwriters Frank Marotta and Leah Griffith.   v

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