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Susan Clark: Press

Press

"Waitin' for the Wind"
Susan Clark
***1/2
Susan Clark will sing at Mykonos Restaurant, 5900 Eubank NE, 7-10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3, and with the band Group Therapy will be at Molly's Bar in Tijeras 5:30-9 p.m. March 17.

On this, her second album, Albuquerque's Susan Clark displays an incredibly strong talent as a singer and as a songwriter.

Clark's voice has good range and its sound exudes a warmth that is magnetic. Her reality-based songwriting touches on diverse subjects that should appeal to many audiences.

For example, on "Madeline," Clark sings in a humorous folksy style about a rat terrier her family had for seven years: "Her nails are long and her breath is bad/How'd I ever get a dog like that?"

On "Whatever Happened To", a disappointed Clark observes how people change: "I miss those days when friends would just stop by/Without calling first or having a reason why."

And on the title cut, a song of self-examination, Clark quietly sings of issues many can relate to: "I'm a ship too long at harbor/I keep on waitin' for the wind..."

On the CD Clark shows her versatility on guitar, keyboards, accordion and flute. You can also hear some of New Mexico's finest musicians.
--David steinberg
David Steinberg - Albuquerque Journal, March 2, 2007
Susan Clark sweeps through the recreation room at Sunrise Assisted Living like a Julia butterfly, dispensing percussion musical instruments from a tote bag.

“I brought some toys for you guys,” she says, passing out tambourines and castanets. She holds up the keys to her truck.

“Anybody want to play my car keys?” she says to laughter from some of the residents.

Clark — petite with a freshas-an-April-morning sound and personality — is dressed in a vivid orange summer dress as she passes out the musical instruments.

She flashes a smile that pops up easily with surprising fun, like blue sprinkles on a sugar doughnut. She looks and sounds like a cross between Nanci Griffith and Joni Mitchell.

Though she is striving for songwriting stardom, she’s also an angel of song for seniors, many with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The Cedar Crest folk singer strums her guitar as she leads a sing-along to a poignant old Bing Crosby standard, “I’ll Be Seeing You In All the Familiar Places.”

Clark, 52, can be found most weekends playing at rousing frontier town watering holes like the Mineshaft Tavern in Madrid, Los Ojos in Jemez Springs or Kokopelli’s in Cedar Crest.

In late May, she was getting ready to go to the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Concerts for Emerging Songwriters in Kerrville, Texas, where she’s become a fixture, being named a finalist in 1991, 1993 and 1995. She was a first-place finisher in 1998 and as part of her prize performed before thousands on Kerrville’s main stage.

Before leaving for Kerrville, she released her third CD of 14 original songs called “Waiting for the Wind,” following the 1999 release of her second CD of originals, “Take Me Home.”

Clark came to New Mexico in the early 1990s to care for her mother, who had developed dementia and Alzheimer’s and was living in an Albuquerque nursing home.

“I remember just before she died, she didn’t know who I was anymore, but she knew that she loved the music,” Clark said.

That’s when Clark started to regularly visit the nursing and assisted living homes.

There was a time when Clark chased a neon dream of having one of her songs sung by Norah Jones or Diana Krall. Clark has a sensitive, emotionally poignant sound that reveals a spectrum of feeling.

And though she wouldn’t mind getting a Grammy Award for best song, she’s come to terms with what may be her real purpose in life.

“When my music touches someone, I feel I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I was meant to do,” she says, during a break in her performance at Sunrise Assisted Living.

Clark’s lyrics, combined with conversations with her and her friends and fans, weave a picture of an independent, compassionate woman who never takes her talent for granted.

“I always try to use this gift I was given to try to make the world a better place,” she says.

Don’t be fooled. She’s felt heartache. She’s had disappointment. But she never lets it stop her.

“I’m not gonna worry/about the way I feel anymore/I’m gonna quit lockin’ up/all of these damn doors.”

She’s also felt joy. She’s known love. She knows truth, and deception. She’s chased dreams.

Maybe her biggest dream now is to start a nonprofit organization that provides musicians for nursing and assisted living homes that can’t afford their own entertainment.

“Music creates a human connection that transcends age, backgrounds or lifestyles,” she says. “It reaches souls and gives joy and comfort.”

Writing a song, for her, is a personal form of expression.

“When I’m troubled by something, I put it into a song, and some of the sadness and anger goes away,” she says.

Writing about something joyful magnifies the sensation, especially if it touches someone, she adds.

Born in Terre Haute, Ind., Clark was adopted by a couple old enough to be her grandparents. She remembers wanting to be just like her older stepbrother, who played the piano.

She started taking piano lessons at 5 and wrote her first song at 12. By 17, she was touring with bands throughout the Midwest, recording her first album, “Used Dreams,” at 19.

Clark, who lives in a cabin in Cedar Crest, said New Mexico seemed an unlikely place for a Hoosier girl. She remembers craving rainy days, and wrote a song (“Indiana Weather”) when the rain finally did come.

When she returns from Kerrville, she’ll play Sunday, June 4, at Indigo Crow in Corrales (898-7000); June 9 at Kokopelli’s in Cedar Crest (286-2691); and June 14 at Molly’s Bar in Tijeras (281-9911).

Meanwhile, at Sunrise Assisted Living, Clark is putting her instruments back in the tote bag.

“She’s wonderful. She sings old songs for old people, beautiful songs,” resident Olga Torres says in a brief interview.

“I love her visits. I can’t wait for her to come,” resident Arnetta Davies says. “She sings from the heart.”