Thanks to the Internet, Wendy Wall knows she hasn’t been forgotten.
The New York singer-songwriter’s self-titled debut SBK/EMI album was a New York Music Award winner and multiple nominee in 1991 and won over scores of fans and critics for its intoxicating songs.
But it was hard for Wall to enjoy the acclaim.
“I lost my parents within nine months of each other,” she said recently. “My father was diagnosed when we were mixing the record, and my mother was diagnosed when we were releasing it. The whole time that the record was out, for two years they were dying. My father died in December of 1990 and my mom died in October of 1991. A week later, SBK dropped me.”
With such back-to-back tragedies, it’s no wonder it took Wall 10 years to piece together a new album.
“I got to know myself,” she said. “Grieving is a process, so I just sat with my feelings. I wrote and walked around the Village, watched sunsets. I did perform, but not a lot. I didn’t feel I could go back into the ‘industry’ and chase after another record contract. I needed to absorb what had happened.”
With the emergence of the Internet in the 1990s, Wall eventually discovered that there’s life after a big-label deal: She started her own label, Wildbird Records, and issued her poignant comeback LP, “Two Birds,” on May 15.
“I always knew I was going to record another album,” Wall said, “but I just wasn’t quite sure what shape it was going to take and what timeframe it was going to happen in. I had an instinct that I wanted to go the independent route.
“The Internet, in particular, has been great in the sense that it gives the artist the opportunity to reach the audience directly. It’s the best way to connect with people who are listening to your music.”
Wall admits the indie world can be daunting, but it’s gratifying to receive e-mail from fans who are still playing her first album.
“They’ve been waiting all this time for the next one,” she said. “I never would’ve known that if it weren’t for the Internet, because you get that incredible contact with people who appreciate your music.”
Many of those listeners have identified, in one way or another, with the poetic themes filling “Two Birds.”
“I really wanted to capture what I’ve been listening to and what I’ve lived through,” Wall said. “I wanted the album to be truthful, more than anything. A song like ‘The Long Goodbye,’ that was written out of real heartache, and ‘When My Father Was Tall,’ I get wonderful feedback from people who can identify with them. It makes them feel like, ‘Wow, I’m not alone.’
“I’m finding that, apart from being grateful to SBK for that experience, all that has happened definitely laid a foundation for this. And, as corny as it sounds, I really believe my parents are still with me. That’s what has helped keep me going, that and friends and music and faith and hope.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “Probably a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album. I think it’s the one with ‘Wooden Ships’ on it. What a great record.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “Strawberry Fields, which was a rock festival. I was really young. There was Jose Feliciano and Sly & the Family Stone, but I vaguely remember the show.”
THE WORST JOB I’VE EVER HAD: “I was a cashier once, and I had a boss who kept trying to guess my bra size. I didn’t know anything about sexual harassment back then. The second worst was a waitress job I had down on Wall Street, where I got fired because one of the top customers who loved to drink Tanqueray martinis extra dry without a twist, he wanted to lick my hand and I didn’t want him to. So I got fired for that.”
WENDY WALL ON THE WEB: Get hooked @ www.wendywall.com.
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