Fletcher – What a wild and colorful ride life has been for Susan Cowsill.
The youngest member of the Cowsills, the family band that inspired the television show “The Partridge Family,” and a successful touring solo artist, she didn’t begin writing her own material until she was in her 30s.
“Playing with the Continental Drifters was very influential (to my song-writing),” said Cowsill, who performs Thursday at the Feed and Seed on Hendersonville Road. “Prior to hooking up with them I was just a singer. It just wasn’t a necessity for me, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise, to write up until that point.”
Her fellow band members, she said, were so encouraging about her song-writing.
“ ‘Why don’t you write some songs?’ they’d ask me. And one day, I looked at them and said, ‘Y’know, that’s a damn good idea!’ “
Cowsill began her career path at an early age, singing with her five brothers in the Cowsills, one of the country’s top touring concert acts in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.
She was also on her ninth birthday, the youngest person ever to be involved directly with a hit record, when the band’s recording “Indian Lake” made the Top 10 in the summer of 1968. She also contributed vocals to the Cowsills’ version of “Hair,” the title song from the musical, which would become the band’s biggest hit.
“Any music that I’ve made in the past has a lot to do with what direction I’m headed in today,” Cowsill says.
“The obvious pop overtones would speak to an influential past. Being involved with music since I was old enough to walk definitely influences who I am today. From a very young age, I started receiving it on a cellular, DNA level.”
Cowsill is out on the road these days, touring in support of her newest release, “Lighthouse,” a collection of songs penned by the singer-songwriter. The record is a heartfelt testimonial to family and a tribute throughout to Cowsill’s adopted hometown of New Orleans, where she’s lived since 1993.
“(The record) is definitely the chronicles of an everyday hurricane survivor,” said Cowsill, who lost her older brother Barry in the floodwaters from Katrina. (Cowsill sings one of Barry’s tunes on the album, as a sort of sweet farewell).
“ ‘Hurricane Survival 101’ would have been another good title for the album,” Cowsill jokes.
“It’s a culmination of thoughts that my husband, Russ, and I had been having for the past four or five years. It’s been a bit of a journey, definitely more than I bargained for. I didn’t really realize that (making this record) would be as emotionally charged as the whole thing was.”
Cowsill’s house and belongings were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. But the singer’s heart still belongs to the Crescent City.
“The very soul of the city I live in has affected and influences my music,” Cowsill claims. “I never really felt as ‘tapped in’ to what I do on a writer level before living (in New Orleans), experiencing the life that I experience here.”
No matter her home base, though, she remains eager to showcase her songs on the road.
“I’m really excited to be coming to play in your area. The band I have is a wonderful group of people.”