Romancing the tune

Serenading a lover always works for out singer Nancy Beaudette

Nancy_Beaudette_color

ACOUSTIC DIVA | Beaudette blends her Celtic and folks sounds with some spirituality and compassion.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Nancy Beaudette is ahead of her time. Literally. Feb. 14 isn’t until next week, but Beaudette and her girlfriend have already celebrated Valentine’s Day: A gift exchange, a relaxed morning in the hot tub and a long walk on a gorgeous Massachusetts day.

“Oh and we had a wonderful Chinese dinner,” she adds.

That’s what happens when a working musician hits the road — you celebrate the Hallmark moments when you can. For Beaudette, right now there is no calendar other than her tour. She’ll be playing throughout the month, including a stopover in Fort Worth on Saturday. She’s fine with it. At 50, with a healthy discography under her belt dating back 30 years to 1982, Beaudette is finally doing the “musician thing.”

“This is the first time I’m doing music without having a full-time job,” she says. “I’m embarking on a lifelong dream of songwriting and performing.”

Romance isn’t lost in Beaudette’s brand of folk. Like any singer, she’ll croon about love, but she also sings her fair share of heartbreak songs. She’s quick to point out that love is not all fuzzies and wuzzies. There are layers of complex issues that she deals with through her music, including a split from her wife of 22 years and from her church. She covers both on the title track of her last album, Honestly.

“The song is the language of divorce, but it was really about my emotional connection between my church and me,” she says. “It was devastating.”

Having the benefit of legalized marriage in her native Canada, Beaudette and her wife were excommunicated by the Catholic Church after they exchanged vows. An active member and choir director for 25 years, the blow had devastating effects; she cites it as the reason her marriage failed, but she found therapy in music.

“I journal a lot and music has been helpful,” she says. “Those pages are a great place to get to my raw emotions.” (Ironically, her church still performs all of her music.)

Despite such drama, Beaudette hardly has a bitter tone. She’s ebullient and optimistic and clearly enlivened by her new relationship and perhaps by her nebulous future with music. Her smile is practically evident through the phone line.

“I left my town, fell in love, got a performance visa and now I’m living with Chris in Massachusetts,” she says. “The U.S. market is so much larger and much more competitive, but it’s been very positive and my trips to Nashville have been very inspiring.”

The last time Beaudette came to Texas was for a conference in Waco in the mid-‘90s. This time, she anticipates a proper introduction to the Lone Star State. As with any non-Texan, she’s banking on an epic experience.

“I think everyone says this, but I hear everything is bigger in Texas,” she quips. “I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’ve met some really delightful women from Houston who will be hosting a house concert when I’m there. And the Open Door people have been so kind. The glimpse I’ve seen so far is pretty welcoming.”

She’ll also perform at Agape MCC’s Sunday morning service. Despite being hurt by a religious institution, she’s determined to use it as a bolster to her spiritual and musical side. Besides, it goes hand-in-hand with her Charter for Compassion work, a movement with the mission to “restore compassion to the center of morality and religion.”

“I’m not the first gay person to be hurt by a church,” she says. “We are spiritual and looking for ways to express it. I get to talk about the charter I’m involved with. The movement is growing all around.”

Pursuing her dream and spreading her message, Beaudette should have a fulfilling tour, but with all that, she still wants to be with her lady and serenade her with a song — that is if Chris doesn’t beat her to it.

“She’s a singer-songwriter too so we have lots in common. She’ll sing to me,” she says. “I serenade her all the time. It always does the trick.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas