Bethany again treading musical path after hiatus

In 2005, on the evidence of her debut album “It’ll be Alright,” singer-songwriter Evan Bethany was hailed as one of the area’s brightest new talents.

Following positive reviews in the local press and numerous concert appearances, she ended the year with a nomination as Best New Artist at the San Diego Music Awards.

Since then, however, there has been no new music. And concerts, such as her appearance at Dream Street tonight, April 2, have become fewer and farther between.

Not that Bethany has stopped making music. Indeed, she hopes to have a new album out eventually.

“I am definitely not a prolific writer,” Bethany said. “In fact, that is one of the causes of the large gap between albums and shows. I stopped playing due the fact that I wanted more material to play, but was coming up short.”

Now, with half an album’s worth of new material to try out, she’s ready to hit the area’s venues once again.

Bethany, a Montana native, first arrived in the area in 1997 following her brother in attending Point Loma’s Nazarene University.

Though she made her singer-songwriter debut in 2005, she was already a highly trained classical musician. By age 6 she was playing piano and by 10 had added the violin to her repertoire. She eventually played with the Billings Symphony and various orchestras, earning a scholarship that sent her to San Diego in the process.

Playing improvisational music with a chapel band in college started her move away from classical music. But singing was one thing she never intended to try.

“I was painfully shy,” Bethany said. “I had thought about it, but didn’t have the guts to do it. When I was performing, the violin was the perfect instrument to hide behind.”

It was her husband, Keith, who recommended her to acclaimed musician and producer Greg Laswell. Bethany puts the pairing down at least partially to circumstance.

“We went to the same school,” she said. “Greg’s a couple of years older. My husband, Keith, also does recording engineering and is close friends with him.”

Incredibly, Bethany had never written music before she began working on her debut album.

“I began to compose songs as we worked on the album. I’m still a beginner,” Bethany said.

Although Bethany is a lifelong musician and is now known as a singer-songwriter, 2005 was also the year she began singing and started to play the guitar.

“My husband had suggested that I start singing because he said I have a beautiful voice. I didn’t take him seriously,” she said.

A quick trip into the studio changed everything.

Auditioning for Laswell with a Sarah McLachlan tune, Bethany knew singing was the right move to make.

“We decided to do a song, which turned out to be the album’s title track, to see how it might sound and it grew from there,” she said.

Bethany and her husband collaborated with Laswell on the album’s music, drawing from her life experiences. In addition to tunesmithing and production, Laswell also played the bulk of the instruments on the CD. Within a few months after the release of “It’ll be Alright,” Laswell’s own “Through Toledo” made it’s debut, pushing him into the national limelight and, in turn, focusing attention on Bethany’s work. As Laswell’s star continues to rise, Bethany’s release may become a collectable even as the music itself gains a wider audience.

She is aware that fans have wondered what has delayed new music from her.

“The album came out with a big bang,” she said. “But ever since then I hadn’t had much new music to play and that’s important to me. Now that I’ve got new songs, it’s a different story.”

While Bethany’s schedule has decreased over the last few years, she still considers being onstage an important part of her life.

“For some reason, being up in front of people, playing songs that mean a lot to me, makes me feel empowered and resilient, like I could bounce back from anything,” she said. “I always feel better when I play and when I neglect it, I suffer.”

Bethany performs on Thursday, April 2, at Dream Street, 2228 Bacon St. at 8 p.m.

Read more: San Diego Community News Group – Bethany again treading musical path after hiatus