Calling your new album The Flower Child's Guide To Love And Fashion' is bound to raise an eyebrow or two. But then PATSY MOORE isn't your average CCM artist as Jan Willem Vink finds out.
Patsy Moore is driven to create art. "It's probably the greatest drive I have," says the American singer. She surprised the CCM audience with her versatile 1992 debut 'Regarding The Human Condition', a very poetic album, that on a musical level has to be described in the bio as following "diverse musical threads, including techno-pop, African and Caribbean rhythms, American folk, funk and soul, Latin, pop and rock, woven masterfully into a coherent whole."
Patsy has worked for four years as a songwriter in Nashville, penning songs like "This Is Where" for Trace Balin and the ironic "Let's Talk About Life" for Kim Hill.
Patsy was born on Antigua, the Caribbean in 1964, as daughter of an American Navy man and a school teacher/librarian from the islands. "Shortly after I was born we moved and then we moved back there for four years when I was seven. I still have family there." Patsy is currently living in Nashville and besides Antigua, has lived in different parts of America and also in Korea. I asked her how much their crossing the globe had influenced her education.
"Travelling around the world is an education in itself," answers the articulate and soft-spoken singer. "There is no better way to develop an appreciation for other cultures than to live in the middle of them. We Americans sometimes can be, I'm looking for a nice word, we can feel a little pompous. There's something about being taken out of your safe, comfortable element into a situation where you're suddenly the minority and you're suddenly the person that doesn't speak the language. That's probably good for you. It was a wonderful way to grow up. It was all the stuff that you would normally find in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, you actually had to live it out. I can certainly see where it influenced me."
Moore further explains: "I think in being willing to look at a topic from a variety of angles and to consider all of the colours and textures of something. I have an interest in different rhythms. I'm a big lover of folk music, not just American folk music, but music that's indigenous of any place around the world that has an interesting sound. It's the music of the people, there's something organic about it and although it may be from a particular spot on the earth, it has a real universal appeal, it kind of gets to the heart of the matter."
While in university, majoring in broadcast journalism, Patsy decided to quit school, to pursue a career as a songwriter. "When I first moved to Nashville, the publisher was looking at some music that I had written and he said, 'Well, the thing about your writing is that you break a lot of the rules'," reflects Patsy. "The only response that I had was I think I break them because I don't really know what they are. I just kind of go with whatever I feel and whatever I hear in my head. I don't necessarily subscribe to any particular form of music. There are people who might think that's strange, and I'm sure there's an entire school of people who find that irritating. I wrote my first song when I was seven years old so I've been writing all along. At the point that I decided it was really what I wanted to do with my life, it was a little scary, leaving the safety of school, but it was something that I knew I was good in and that I had some talent in. But on stepping into something I was that good at, I really wasn't that sure that it was going to be accepted."
Patsy's first album, 'Regarding The Human Condition', got a lot of critical acclaim. Journalists raved about the musical abilities of this young musical chameleon. Patsy once said they wanted to call her debut 'Music For Schizophrenics', which is probably an apt title given the variety of styles displayed on 'Regarding The Human Condition'. The 30-year-old singer seems to find great fulfilment in coming up with titles that are different and catch attention, since her second album, released Stateside in April, is called 'The Flower Child's Guide To Love And Fashion'. 'Flower Child' is a real departure from 'Regarding The Human Condition' because it is musically more coherent, displaying Patsy's 60s influences.
Says Patsy: "The production of it, the actual studio work, was not as much fun as the first album. But it was enjoyable in the sense that I really liked this material a lot better than the first album. I think it reflects more who I most consistently am musically. With the first album it really wasn't a situation where I was able to sit down and write songs for the record. We just went through several years' worth of back catalogue and took songs from there. As a result the songs were coming from different periods and they had different influences and different sounds. There wasn't the cohesiveness that you find on this record where I had the opportunity to sit down and write songs for it and have a common theme running throughout."
The Flower Child's Guide To Love And Fashion' has 60s influences running all over the album. Those were probably the first musical experiences for the singer who was born in 1964. Comments Moore: "It is the first music that I really enjoyed when I was old enough to go out and buy records and listen to the radio and identify songs that I know I liked, it was in the late 60s. There were several teenagers living in the area when I was very young who I spent time with. Sometimes on weekends they would baby-sit me and they were very influenced by the music of their day and so they listened to a lot of Joan Baez and Beatles and that sort of thing. That was the first music that I was really introduced to. The first popular music."
Moore says her parents weren't involved in social political issues at the time. "They had an interest in the civil rights movements, but there wasn't quite a bit of 60s philosophy in our home. They weren't very active in the culture at the time. So I'm not always really sure where I got my sense of that from, because it's been a very strong sense, ever since I've been a child. A lot of the music that I love is from the 60s and so much of that music inherently contains philosophies from that time. I think there is something. There were things that came out of the 60s that were not positive. But there were certain things that were prevalent in the 60s that I find appealing. I think there's something wonderful about the fact that people really were in search mode. They were looking for the answers of life's very big questions and whether the voyage that they took was always the best one, or whether the vehicle they took to make the voyage was always the best thing or not in the end I think anyone who is searching for the truth will have that revealed to them in part. And the one truth I think that was brought out was that it was very important to love and to understand what real love was. And it was very important to actively pursue peace and a real sense of community. So those are things that I think are solid and good philosophies to hold on to. I have friends who are my age, who are much more influenced by the 70s and they tease me all the time. My best friend here always calls me love bean."
It is important for Patsy in the first place to be an artist. Although she believes that doesn't stop her from including her Christian faith in her songs. "I don't necessarily create art with a didactic agenda. I'm not using a lot of the terminology that we've become most comfortable with in the Church. But I certainly recognise that Christianity is the fibre that runs throughout my art because it is the foundation upon which I've built my life. You can listen to my albums and certainly hear a common thread or common message throughout the album and it is certainly pointing you in the direction of Christ."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.