Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First/Last-Heather Kropf

“I think I’ll be someone I’ve never been before,” sings Heather Kropf in “Sweet Liberty,” one of the key tracks on Chrysalis. The album is the Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter’s fourth long-player, but in many ways it feels like a debut release. There’s a sense of transformation and new possibility pouring out of these tracks, heard in both the songs and the sound of the recording itself. Heather sings of change, healing and redemption with a voice tempered by experience and inspired by hope. It marks a breakthrough for her both personally and artistically." - Barry Alfonso

Heather Kropf is a Pittsburgh based singer-songwriter who's latest album is entitled, "Chrysalis". You can hear selections from it as she performs Wednesday at the Pittsburgh Mennonite Church with fellow local Brad Yoder and Allie Farris of Nashville. I want to thank Heather for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

First album ever bought?
Sting “Dream of the Blue Turtles”.

Last album bought?
Meshell Ndegeocello “Comet, Come to Me”.

Favorite album of all time?
This is an impossible question! Different albums are favorites and different times in my life. I'd say favorites include Joni Mitchell's "Hissing of Summer Lawns", Kate Bush's "The Sensual World", Miles Davis "Kind of Blue", Lizz Wright's "Dreaming Wide Awake" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Bookends" but there are so many others that are often on my playlist.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I can't say I've ever been let down by the music of people I admire so I can't really say.

First concert attended?
It's weird but I can't remember. It might have been Tracy Chapman, or else it was Anderson, Buford, Wakemen and Howe.

Last concert?
Well the last non-local concert was Maxwell at Heinz Hall. Locally it would have been the 2nd Annual Deutschtown Music Festival.

Favorite concert ever?
This is another impossible question, but I can point to a few transcendent moments: Meshell Ndegeocello on tour with her “Peace Beyond Passion” album. Incredible! K.D. Lang was superb, the 70th birthday tribute concert last year for Joni Mitchell at Massey Hall in Toronto was out of this world. They played obscure songs that I never in my life thought I'd hear live. I saw The Replacements final concert in Grant Park in Chicago, and I remember being pretty swept away by a Morphine concert at Metropol. Finally, I had a chance to be sitting about 20 feet from Brian Blade at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild for a Joshua Redman concert. I was transfixed by a drummer and before that evening I had never paid any attention to a drummer. That whole night just blew my mind.

Least favorite concert?
I must block out bad memories or something because I can't recall any outstanding moment of horrible-ness. I've seen some seriously dud local shows but that's O.K. I saw David Poe melt down from a heckler. That was super uncomfortable. And Mark Eitzel, who is so amazing, drank himself into a stupor during a show at The Rosebud. If his songs weren't already soaked in beautiful boozey melancholy it would have been impossible. So it wasn't a least favorite, but it was one of those sad moments.

Favorite thoughts/experiences about Pittsburgh?
I moved here after college and it's been both a charming and frustrating experience living here. What I love most is how real this place is. What you see is what you get. I love that there are so many opportunities to play music and get better. And my experience has been that the music community is essentially collaborative instead of competitive and that helps me keep on keeping on. Music isn't a contest. It's art and soul and we're all human. In that sense Pittsburgh is a gem and I'm really lucky to have made this place my home.

Thanks, Heather. I have to agree that this music community we have here is so supportive and vibrant. I just love that aspect of what is going on in Pittsburgh.

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