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Monday, Feb. 1, 2016

The heart of it all

Airheart gets Grammy nod


Airheart gets Grammy nod

The 58th annual Grammy Awards, the recording industry’s highest honors, will be presented and televised at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 on CBS. The members of Shreveport’s own Airheart will come one step closer to acquiring their own gramophone-shaped trophies by making the ballot for the first time this year. The group consists of Dan Garner (guitar, harmonica and vocals), his wife Amelia Blake Garner (guitar, tambourine and vocals) and Paula O’Neal (percussion, pennywhistle and vocals). Airheart performs a variety of covers in addition to their own original music, and they released an album of their originals, “All Dressed Up” in 2015. Their musical style varies around acoustic finger-picking, blues/gospel, folk, pop and Americana.

Q: How did Airheart form?

Dan: “I got invited to play a benefit for Robinson’s Rescue and I asked Amelia if she wanted to do the benefit. Paula called Amelia and asked, ‘Hey, can I sit in with you guys?’ So, we didn’t even have a rehearsal. We didn’t really have a plan or anything. And basically these harmonies started happening while we were playing.”

Paula: “It was effortless.”

Amelia: “Our voices just fall into certain areas. I usually am on the high end and they go back between the middle and the low and they can almost trade off. Dan and I had done some things together and Paula just immediately found the third note. We just looked at each other smiling.”

Paula: “When it’s that easy and that special in the beginning you just know you need to do it again.”

Q: How did you get on the Grammy ballot?

Amelia: “I’ve been a member of The Recording Academy for several years, but I didn’t really know how to get on the ballot. I was doing a lot of home recordings and it’s not that you can’t get those released, but you have to prove that it’s a commercial release to get on the ballot. So you have to jump through a few hoops because this is member voting. So one, you have to be a member of the Academy. You have to submit it and prove that you released it commercially and they have a jury that decides. You also have to choose a category, which was tough for us. I had asked for Americana, but they moved us to folk. That’s kind of a cool thing because it’s a smaller category.”

Dan: “Less competition, but tough competition.“

Paula: “Yeah, Pattie Griffin, one of my favorite artists is in that category. They tease me because I’m such a fan and she got a nomination in the category we’re in and they’ve decided it’s my fault we didn’t get the nomination.”

Amelia: “The Academy explains in detail what they consider each genre to be. When you write your own originals, it’s so rare to have a songwriter that only writes in one genre. Like Jim Lauderdale, he looks country the way he dresses in those rhinestones and his music is all over the place, but he falls into Americana.”

Q: What was it that made you submit?

Amelia: “Facebook, of all things. Other members of the Academy started contacting me because, of course, they want to support each other. They throw these networking parties and we’re going to one given by the winner of the New Age album category last year, a completely different type of music than what we perform. This other guy is kind of a country writer and he throws parties and invites other members to come in. A lot of them end up touring or recording together. It’s great networking but they’re just such nice people.”

Q: How is Airheart using this new global reach to find an audience?

Paula: “You’ve got your crowds who want covers and you have your other crowds who want your originals. It’s all about finding where to plug in. We’re looking at in the future doing some online performance so that we can get out there to the international community.”

Amelia: “We definitely want to do more of these intimate concerts but we want to do little regional tours. Because well, first, we have a lot of pets and it’s hard to be away from home. It’s traumatic for them if we’re gone for so long.”

Amelia: “But that means little regional tours for us. That’s why, I used to do online concerts and we plan on doing them again.”

Dan: “Amelia was pretty big in a thing called ‘Second Life,’ An international virtual reality world.”

Amelia: “It’s a gamer thing. It’s an odd thing. I was only in it to play music, but it got complicated because they pay you in ‘Second Life’ money, which is called Lindens, and then you have to cash it over into currency from whatever country you live in because it’s international. It got to be quite complicated. The people that saw me regularly there and bought my music have found me on Facebook.”

Paula: “One thing that I’m seeing is that there are a lot more performance sites, and one thing I’m seeing a lot about is Periscope.”

–Susan Reeks


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