National Public Radio christened Susan Werner with the revered title of “Empress of the Unpredictable,” and the Iowa native/Chicago resident has clearly earned the complimentary sobriquet.
Werner transformed her youthful interest in music into degrees in voice from the University of Iowa and Temple University with an ear toward an operatic career, but she was converted to acoustic guitar and Folk by a Nanci Griffith concert.
By the time Werner self-released her well-received debut, 1993’s Midwestern Saturday Night, and a live follow-up the same year, she had already established herself as a potent force in the respected Boston, Philadelphia and New York Folk scenes.
After a couple of label deals and a pair of excellent albums, Werner returned to independent status for her self-released fifth album, 2001’s New Non-Fiction, before signing with Koch for 2004’s I Can’t Be New, a fascinating album of originals written and performed in the style of Jazz, Cabaret and Tin Pan Alley classics.
Over the past six years, Werner has explored a Gospel direction (The Gospel Truth and Live at Club Passim), Chamber Pop (Classics, covers of ’60s and ’70s songs in a chamber setting) and contemporary Folk/Rock (Kicking the Beehive, produced by the inimitable Rodney Crowell).
Werner’s next studio album, Hayseed, will see release later this year and, according to her website, will concern “farms, farmers and the people who love them.” What will it sound like? Like every other proclamation from the Empress of the Unpredictable, which by definition would be like no other proclamation from the Empress of the Unpredictable, which by definition means it will sound exactly like Susan Werner.
SUSAN WERNER performs Saturday, April 13 at Miami University Hamilton in the Parish Auditorium with David Wilcox. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.