Singer Susan Cowsill tells the story of Hurricane Katrina from the point of view of how she and her husband, Russ Broussard, processed the tragedy in her new CD, "Lighthouse." Fans can experience Cowsill Aug. 5 at Enoch's in Monroe.
One evening near the beginning of a four-month mystery journey that began after Hurricane Katrina swallowed their home, Broussard put his feeling of rootlessness into words for his wife.
"I feel like a kite without a string," Broussard said.
The songwriter in Cowsill knew a good image when she heard it. She grabbed her phone to record it, and it became the first line in "Crescent City Sneaux," the first song she wrote on a disc where Cowsill tries to process the aftereffects of the 2005 storm. She was left temporarily homeless at the same time she was searching for her brother Barry, who died under mysterious circumstances in New Orleans after the hurricane.
Getting back to work wasn't easy. The disc, "Lighthouse," comes nearly five years after Katrina and only after a record company's nudge made it "painfully obvious we weren't doing anything," she said.
She hopes the results are a tonic.
"It is like medicine to our souls and, for sure, medicine to our friends and family, neighbors and community," she said.
Cowsill, 51, banged on a tambourine in the late 1960s when her family's band was making hits like "The Rain, The Park and Other Things." Brothers Barry, Bill, Bob, John and Paul were the heart of the group, and mom joined the act, too. It was the real-life model for television's "The Partridge Family."
The little girl was a keeper. She grew to have an expressive voice, one that moves from the edge of cracking from heartbreak to being resolute and strong. She was the secret weapon in the Continental Drifters, a rootsy, shoulda-been supergroup in which ex-husband and songwriter Peter Holsapple and former Bangle Vicki Peterson (Cowsill's sister-in-law) were marquee names. Broussard was the band's drummer.
New Orleans became her adopted hometown after the Continental Drifters moved their operations there in 1993.
Cowsill had been out of town performing when Katrina struck, and Broussard joined her after evacuating. They spent four months in their car, bunking at the homes of various friends as they decided what would come next. Each visit was secretly a tryout, reflected in the album's "Could This Be Home."