- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sometimes musicians make choices that lead them off the typical career track. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it doesn’t matter.

When singer-songwriter Diane Zeigler found out she was pregnant, just after the release of her 1995 debut album, “The Sting of the Bee,” on Rounder Records, her career track and the critical praise for her album didn’t matter. She just put her career on hold and went home to Vermont to raise her family.

Ten years later she’s back, as back as one can be and still take care of two children 10 and under.

“Over the last five years, I’ve been slowly coming back to the music biz,” Miss Zeigler says. “I’m just touring a lot more than I have. I’ve been dipping my toe in the pond, so to speak, and now I’m up to my ankles.”

Her expanding tour schedule brings her to the Washington area this weekend, playing four shows in three days. She has a house concert in Manassas on Saturday and two in Washington on Sunday, including one in the thriving “Live at the Deej” series.

On Monday, she brings her clear, beautiful, expressive voice to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage for a free performance.

Her return brings her back from both a physical and an emotional distance. From 1995 to 1999 she stayed completely away from touring and performing — though not from songwriting.

In 1999, one of her new songs won first prize in the songwriting competition at the famous Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. Later that year she put together and self-released her second album, “These are the Roots,” and exceeded the expectations of her first. Two more albums of touching, honest, uplifting songs followed over the next few years along with her slow return to touring.

Despite the effort needed to rebuild her career, Miss Zeigler has never second-guessed her choice.

“It was crystal clear to me,” she says. “I don’t know that it was entirely about being pregnant and having a child. I felt like I was standing on the precipice of my future when I signed with Rounder. I saw my life plan. I saw how I was going to live for the next 10 years.”

After putting her two children through their first years in school, Miss Zeigler took another look at her career. “I felt that I still had more that I wanted to say and more that I wanted to do,” she says.

She didn’t have to start from scratch. The Internet has allowed her to keep in touch with her fan base. She released her last album, a Christmas album entitled “December in Vermont,” in November 2004, and it sold 3,000 copies in the first month — from only an e-mail to her fans.

• • •

When Adrienne Young released her debut album, “Plow to the End of the Row,” in early 2004, it was clear she had something to say and an invigorating way of saying it. The album quickly captured the interest of everyone from National Public Radio to the Americana Music Awards. Miss Young and her band, Little Sadie, embraced traditional folk-styled music, infused it with honest answers to today’s questions, and made it sound fresh and new.

This year, Miss Young’s second album, “The Art of Virtue,” brilliantly reinforces the point that traditional-styled music doesn’t have to sound stodgy.

Washington audiences will have two opportunities to listen to this world view tomorrow. Adrienne Young and Little Sadie will perform at 12:30 p.m. at the Borders bookstore on 14th Street Northwest. Tomorrow night the group will open for the “American roots” star Tim O’Brien at the Birchmere.

To Miss Young, it’s important that her songs speak to the issues. “I’m a little bit of a sucker when it comes to kind of feeling like the greater good is why I’m here, to contribute to it,” she says.

Reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography gave her an idea of one way she could do that. In the book, he examines the importance of trying to improve one’s character.

“It’s the moment-to-moment choices that make the big difference,” Miss Young says, “and you may never master temperance and industry and resolution and chastity and frugality and all these things but you can try. And you can make some progress.”

Miss Young considers these so-called old fashioned virtues in “The Art of Virtue.” Her view is genuine, thought-provoking and never preachy. It blends beautifully with the clear honest sound of her sweet voice and the time-honored sound of her music.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide