Angela Easterling, who will perform at The Opulent 'Possum on Saturday night, is far down the "Black Top Road" from where she was this time last year.
She released her second album, "Black Top Road," in July. The album has been praised in Oxford American and Country Weekly.
- The record spent several weeks in the American top 40, rare for an independent.
- Easterling was named a 2009 Kerrville New Folk Finalist.
- Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, called her "a bright shining star on the horizon."
- She recently appeared alongside Charlie Louvin, a former member of the Louvin Brothers and a country music hall of famer who played at The White Mule in November, on Nashville's WSM 650-AM, which broadcasts "Grand Ole Opry."
Easterling has more shows booked and more name recognition. To her busy tour schedule this year, she added radio dates. Yes, radio is still important for breaking a performer.
"A lot of times, just getting them in there to give you a chance is such as battle," Easterling said. "Because they get so much. One of the biggest battles is just getting them to listen to it.
"So when my next album comes out, a lot of these people will remember me."
But she wants more, which is why she isn't taking a holiday break.
"You're not going from nobody to Beyonce-level of success if you're working in this indie music," Easterling said. "You're always a snowball.
"(Taking a break is the) worst thing you can do in this business. Because once people forget about you, you're invisible."
But it's the week before Christmas?
"I will take time off at some point," she said. "I don't take time off on purpose. I'm not that good at taking time off. For me, the most relaxing time is when I'm on the road.
"Because if I have a show every night, I will give myself time to relax during the day."
Easterling is the kind of songwriter whose songs sweep at the world like a broom on a country porch: You can't get it all, but you get enough. Her songs seek a deeper meaning, and satisfaction for the songs' characters isn't always guaranteed.
Her hard work promoting her music is paying off. Or is that paying back? She compared the life of an independent musician to that of a restaurant owner.
"At some point, you hope you're getting more money in than you're putting out," said Easterling, who self-financed "Black Top Road." "I just feel really lucky and blessed that my CD was received well. It was a risk, especially with the way the economy is."
Easterling is already thinking ahead to the next albums, including one in French.
"I don't know if I'm going to do it before my next album or do it at the same time," she said. "I just finished writing a new song in French a couple of days ago."
"For me, there are some things I can express better in French than I can do in English," Easterling said. "It's just a different flavor in your mouth.
"That'll be down the road a while. I'm going to ride on the coattails of 'Black Top Road.' Make some of that money back before I go spend some more."
Saturday's show at The Opulent 'Possum, a house concert where all are welcomed with a smile, will have the warmth and spirit of the holiday season: good people joining each other for good times.
(Wear warm clothes for the evening as the show will be outside unless it rains or is too cold.)
It'll be work for Easterling, but it will be fun, too. That much hasn't changed on the road she's on.
"It's still one of my favorite things to do," she said about house shows. "As long as there's people there I can play to."
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: The Opulent 'Possum
INFORMATION: For directions and to RSVP, call (803) 776-4849 or e-mail email@example.com.
DINNER TIME: The potluck begins at 5:30 p.m.