With this latest CD, Nancy Apple pays tribute to fellow artist, Audrey Auld, who lost her battle with cancer in 2015. Auld, a native of Tasmania, left behind a musical legacy of songs ranging from poignant to empowering to downright cheeky. To honor Audrey, Apple brought together other artists and friends to breathe new life into select songs from Auld's prolific catalog.
Audrey Auld (Audrey Auld-Mezera) was an Australian-American touring singer/songwriter who resided at times in both Nashville, Tennessee and the coast of California. She released 11 albums and 3 EPs on her own Reckless Records label, and recorded with many other musicians including Bill Chambers, Kieran Kane, Fred Eaglesmith, Mary Gauthier, Dale Watson, Kasey Chambers, and Carrie Rodriguez. Her songs were recorded by various artists and had songs placed on the FX TV shows "90210," "Justified," "Longmire," "NCIS: New Orleans," and "The Good Guys". She hosted songwriting workshops with inmates in San Quentin Prison in California from 2007 till 2013. Auld-Mezera died on August 9, 2015 at the age of 51 after a battle with cancer.
Every track on the two-disc collection features a friend or musical admirer of Audrey Auld. The track, "Missin' Mez," is sung by the late Auld herself. Friends Gabe Rhodes, Bill Chambers, Carrie Rodriguez, and Wally Dogged joined her on the track, which was originally recorded in Rhodes' Texas home studio.
Q: Nancy, thank you for doing this interview with us. I must say "Just Love: A Tribute to Audrey Auld" is just a beautiful album. Let's start with the most obvious, for those of our readers who are not familiar, tell us a little about Audrey, her music and her legacy.
Audrey was a lovely woman with many talents. An entrepreneur like myself who started her own record label, and in addition to her own release, also helped others get their music out to the masses.
She was originally from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and had lived in Nashville, TN and finally in Stinson Beach, California. We lost her to cancer in 2015, but she left behind 15 recorded projects that are brimming with her brilliant original songs. Audrey was smart and rowdy and had such a sharp wit, which she put into songs like "I'd Leave Me Too." She could also be very serious and spiritual.
For several years, Audrey did songwriting workshops for inmates at San Quentin State Prison (through her involvement with the nonprofit organization Bread and Roses). Her final album, Hey Warden contains songs co-written with inmates. Her final video is one from that project. "I Am Not What I Have Done," is a song that came from the contents of a letter from one of the San Quentin inmate's.
Audrey's music was featured on television shows including "Justified," "Longmire" "NCIS: New Orleans," and "The Good Guys." Her songs have been recorded by other artists, and Audrey herself recorded with Bill Chambers, Kieran Kane, Fred Eaglesmith, Mary Gauthier, Dale Watson, Kasey Chambers and Carrie Rodriguez.
Overall, the thing I could say the most about Audrey, her legacy, is the substantial feeling of emptiness, sadness and hole left behind in our music industry by her passing. She was indeed one-of-a-kind, and had a gift for making every person feel connected to her and special.
I hope fans will check out her website and delve into her music. http://www.audreyauld.com
Q: When and how did you discover and fall in love with Audrey's music?
We met online. Reaching out to each other, sharing ideas and information. Being female in this business, it helped to have a friend who knew the ropes. I was in Memphis, she was in Australia. We changed records - she was going to get mine played in Australia and I was going to get hers played in Memphis. She has a song called "Hole In My Life" and it hit close to home for me then, and even still now. It was apparent that Audrey had suffered great loss such as I, only she articulated it in to a song much better than I could ever imagine.
Q: What prompted you to produce an album in her honor?
It just seemed to be the thing to do. I wanted to do this before her passing, but feared even asking because I didn't want to take any time away from what little she had. Her death was inevitable, however so many of us help on to hope that she would be the one to beat the odds. Her death hit our large circle of friends and associates harder than I think any of us could have imagined. The pouring of love for her husband and for the loss of her life was tremendously large - equal to the love she gave in life. It just seemed like something I needed to do, since I had the organizational and production skills necessary to pull it off. I announced online through Facebook the day she passed I was going to do this, and the requests for wanting to be included came from all over the world.
It was a no-brainer thing to do for our girl and those who were feeling empty from the loss of our girl.
Q: The project is a huge one canvasing two CDs and it involves many artists. Who are some of the artists featured on the project?
Ronny Elliott, Rob McNurlin, Bill and Kacey Chambers, Joel Rafel, Grant Peebles, Trev Warner, Tom Mason, Anne McCue and Eamon McLoughlin, myself and many more. Not necessarily household names, but known in the folk circuit. Certainly, these are folks who are well-known in the Woodyfest circuit, which was Audrey's favorite festival. Some are artists known in Nashville in the hipper circles, others on the west coast, east coast and way down under. I gathered folks who loved Audrey and folks she loved ... and a couple were recruited who never met her, but knew of her music and were saddened by the loss.
Q: Are there any moving stories you encountered when you were recording this album?
I had planned to sing "Hole In My Life," but was recovering from vocal damage. I probably could have changed the key and done the song myself, but the song is about great loss and I just couldn't make it through singing it - I still can't - without getting choked up and thinking of Audrey. So, I recruited Candace Mache. She only knew of Audrey through me, but loved her music nevertheless. I asked her to listen to the track and asked if she could do it. She did such a wonderful interpretation, and you can feel emotion pouring from each note. When listening to a rough mix, I commented that she captured the feeling of loss and I just couldn't see how she pulled it off. Turns out she lost a family member and the funeral was the day before tracking. She felt it indeed - but she is so professional that she was able to harness those emotions toward Audrey's song. I am in awe.
Another track, "Just Love," is on the record twice due to my error, actually. I had assigned it to Susan Herndon, but her tour schedule was so busy and we had not communicated, so I sort of forgot. I gave Sky Shook three songs to choose from and he picked "Just Love." I spaced out by even throwing it in the option bucket. It was Susan's! Long story short, I got Susan's track and Sky's about the same time, and was going to have to pick. I didn't mention my mistake to either of them, but I got a note from Sky that said when he was in the lobby of the studio, there was a brochure or something that had the words, "Just Love" on it. He felt it was a karma thing, and I did too - so I decided to keep both tracks - which are very different interpretations and close out each side with that - and it also gave me the title of the project.
Everyone who contributed had something moving or spiritual happen while tracking. It is a very special release because you can feel so much love that went in to the making of it.
Q: I really love it that you also included two songs off Audrey's final album. Why did you choose "Hey Warden" and "Bread and Roses"?
It was not a planned thing. Both recordings are performed by artists who toured and recorded with Audrey - and both of them actually asked if they could do those songs. Both chose them because they knew how much Audrey loved working with the people in the prison system. Both knew Audrey's story behind each song. I can't say if I would have chosen those songs for either artist if they needed me to help them find the perfect song, but I would like to think that I would have.
Q: "Missin' Mez" is another highlight which features Audrey's voice. What's the story behind this song?
The title itself is the story. It's a song that Audrey and her husband, Mez, wrote together, sort of accidentally. All songwriters listen to what others say, in hopes to get a few good lines. Mez expressed his love for Audrey in a way that gave her the song. Now the lyrics of the song - dedicated to Mez - are a lasting reminder of the great love they shared ... and it WAS a great love. And not only is it a song for Mez, but a song that all of her friends and family and anyone who knew her can connect to that were touched by her in their life. We miss her. I think wherever she is, if there is a great beyond - well, I think she is missing us, too.
Q: Why do you think the music of Audrey Auld is important for us?
Audrey was able to articulate simply the feelings that many of us cannot express. There are a lot of songwriters out there. Lots of great singers. Lots of cool bands and lots of wonderful storytellers. But... not many have the entire package. She was lovable. She was accessible. She was giving and kind and her words were needed and appreciated. You hate to see the good ones go. She left us too soon. I think that anyone who listens to the songs on this compilation will have their own answer to this question. She moved mountains with words. Her words were important. He words were full of love. She was 'Just Love.'