Beth Hirsch. Sultry, Floridian Vocalist Plays Globally

February 24, 2011 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Beth Hirsch's voice is royalty. It is the night time sky. It is the feel of velvet after a bath in jasmine salts. It is the aftertaste of a sweet moscato wine at twilight on the Rhine. When her work with Air came out, she enveloped me and tempted me like the novels of Maugham and Hemingway. In the interview with her, I have to admit that I was a little awed---actually breathless when she talked. In most situations, I am a confident woman, (After all, hubris is the modern woman's accessory, along the lines of authentic Mink or drinking an Old Fashioned at the Opera) but in talking to her I found a bit of needed humility. One thing I know without a doubt, I also found the music that will keep me there. By Bella Coley

You grow up and you realize that one thing is universally true: Music is the soundtrack of our life. It is the ambient melody of youth passed too soon, lovers lost and the greatest adventures (At least the ones that deserve a breath of space) hidden in the nostalgic recesses of the things we don't admit to everyone.

There is a genius to music that I can not pretend to understand or duplicate, but enjoying the aftermath of a sad melody reminds me I am not alone. A smooth roll of jazz coaxes a remembrance of tacit glaces between lovers in dimly lit rooms and forgotten moments. Each riff of remembered melody becomes a part of that moment in our life. You do it too, you know you do. You take a deep breath, squint your eyes and take yourself to those moments that remind you of who you used to be.

I was hooked to know what was behind such a voice. She was soft and smooth and I felt at home from her first words. Much like her music it was a familiar feeling of knowing without having been there before.

With that said I wanted to meet a master of such low, moody music--the kind meant to cajole the soul and catalog the chill bumps,  The kind found of Beth Hirsh’s album Whole Hearted and in songs like "All I need", "You make it easy" and "Something To Tell" & "So Many Things".

You Make It Easy, Air, vocals by Beth Hirsch

All I Need, Air, vocals by Beth Hirsch

I caught up with her through the offices of who arranged for me to interview her a few months ago.

Beth is from Tampa, Florida, not far from where I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. But while she is a soulful woman she has mixed her Southern roots with a bit of European flair. (I loved this thought and realized that she was becoming a bit of an international affair for me personally. I suppose when an artist sings a song that is your own woe or your own happiness so well you feel they know your experiences. For me I felt she knew mine even though she had not been there either.  Karen Carpenter and Lauryn Hill sang about this feeling truly)

Beth is an adventurous woman, jet setting from Tama to Europe without so much as a backwards glance to be an Au Pair. (I can see this now. She is a soft, soothing soul capable of calming.)  For a while she was working with a Shakespearean Workshop in London, but then she traveled to Paris and realized that she'd found a niche.  Time would not allow her to turn this into a growth period quite yet, however.

Instead, Beth moved to New York for two years before returning. Paris beckoning her back--but not as a performer this time----

This is what I love about this artist. She left New York with one contact number on a tiny tattered paper in her pocket. A risk that would incite fear in most of us yet she closed her eyes and followed her heart fearlessly. She trotted off to this foreign land and found that it loved her.

This daring woman was placed with a family who needed an Au Pair for children aged 16, 17 & 18. She had the formative duties of taking care of these children as sort of a house mother.

But even with these responsibilities, Beth was explored and welcomed by the artistic life in Paris.  (editor Stephen Dare assures me this is typical of Paris, incidentally. He says this by merit of having spent slightly more time in the city than I have, a fact which he seems to imbue with a great deal of unecessary importance.  For my part I remind him that Ive spent more time having romantic dinners there than he has.  Neither of us is going to budge on who knows Paris better, but we maintain our positions zealously.)  

Of course there are copious numbers of beautiful artistic people in Paris.  They form the soul of the City of Light after all.  All those black bedecked elegants knowing and breathing the true death and life of Art in every facet. Beth quickly became one of them.

Fortuitously, she was invited to a party that was bursting at the seams with photographers, architects, painters and singers and it was there that she made an introduction that was the birth of a wonderful marriage between a rich lifestyle and wonderfully soulful music.  That introduction was to Marc Collin the quirky genius who was one of the pioneers of a danceable, patently french ironic kind of music called French Kitsch or French New Wave.

She started racking up respectable credentials.

By the time Beth was 28 she landed a contract with Marc Collin, (founder/ producer of the group Nouvelle Vague) who produced her first ep, "Miner's Son". He coupled her with Dee Perryman, her publisher at Polygram Publishing.

The week she signed with them, she began work withWasis Diop, with whom she co-wrote and sang the duet, "Everything Is Never Quite Enough" for his album, Toxu which was then licensed for "The Thomas Crowne Affair." giving her stardom among her peers and followers of her music.

Beth Hirsch, vocals on The Thomas Crown Affair soundtrack

Following this admittedly cool success, Beth was working with on a demo with French composer and producer Etienne Worsinger at his studio where by chance, Nicolas Godin was tantalized by her demo.  It was a connective moment and Beth was cajoled into working with him and Jean Benoit on the first album for AIR called Moon Safari.

Beth co-wrote and sang, "All I Need" and "You Make It Easy."

Air consists of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel from Versailles, France. The name AIR came from backronym Amour, Imagination, Rêve which translates to Love, Imagination, Dream. Apt, since the music they made together was the most tempting dream.  Air became synonymous with French Pop during for the first decade of the millenium and went on to work extensively with American director, Sofia Coppola on Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, and Marie Antoinette

Of course, success with AIR generated interest in Beth’s music, but as an artist it was also a road to growth---which for Beth was even more satisfying. The interest in AIR was a tidal wave that carried her to the collaboration in 2008 with Feat. From there she connected with Gelka Bulgaria for Caf Del Mar where she co-wrote and sang the track "Under My Star".

Under My Star, vocals by Beth Hirsch

In tandem with her work on Moon Safari, Beth‘s solo project "Early Days" was released (along with a second album called Titles & Idols) by K7 Records.

In 2002 she co-wrote and sang 2 singles called, "One Fine Day" & "Home Away From You" on Jakatta's album, 'Visions'.

Home Away From You, vocals by Beth Hirsch

One Fine Day, vocals by Beth Hirsch

In 2007 Beth made a self-released third solo album, "Wholehearted".

2010 - release of "Something To Tell" & "So Many Things" with Ho Hum Records in London.

Success can be seen in the career of Beth Hirsh, but it is the continued grow of the melody of our lives that ran on and on following suit each time she belted out those songs of profound emotions.

Now recording in England with Ho Hum, as well as digital release on the folk label Pure Heart.

Beth continues to travel the world promoting her work in England and France. Although she has enjoyed commercial enthusiasm Beth continues to stay true to roots and evokes strong emotion, intimating that Karmic cradling of divine music, while still accessing opportunity.

Bella Coley