Led by Jennifer and Jared Adams of Zeeland, the group showcased their deeply personal music for Local Spins on WYCE, which also included new tracks from J.Rob, Ada LeAnn, Dynaflo, Fiona Dickinson and more.
After all the cataclysmic events that Jennifer and Jared Adams Annagail have endured, the shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic has actually provided them with a perfect opportunity to go into hiding and create a flood of new music.
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The Zeeland-based band released two albums in 2021, weaving their soulful lyrics into music that touches on blues, indie rock, pop, gospel and jazz, and hope to release another recording later this year.
The intensely personal songs reflect the roller coaster of emotions and crises unleashed over the past twelve years: their daughter Faith, kidnapped in South Africa, Jennifer’s debilitating battle with Lyme disease, a house fire that destroyed their studio and more.
“When COVID hit, not much changed for us because we are so familiar with chronic disease and safety with extra germs surrounding Jennifer,” Jared noted.
“We had played shows on weekends and evenings locally until then, so that has definitely changed. We stopped making them for the COVID season and started writing and focusing on new albums. “
Jennifer added: “It was really wonderful. We made a lot of recordings in the closet in the master bedroom. We did a few songs in the shower (for) cool acoustics. The whole time we had to wear our slippers and bathrobes. It was really fantastic. We made the most of it.
What emerged were the albums “Home” (described as the group’s “most vulnerable” release to date) and “Baby It’s You” (leaning towards blues and jazz, and tackling wrestling. of Jennifer’s Lyme Disease), as well as a 36-minute mini-documentary chronicling Annagail’s arduous journey since moving from Nashville in 2010.
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Annagail featured a pair of songs that describe part of that journey and their decision to move forward in coming to terms with their situation – “Parade” and “Anne”. Watch the documentary here and scroll down to listen to the songs and the full podcast from the radio show.
VIDEO: Annagail, “Holy Spirit and whiskey”
Raised in “amazing religious homes,” Jared and Jennifer first found success with Annagail amid worship and church music for a Christian music label. But multi-instrumentalists ultimately found this “tunnel vision” approach limiting and unsatisfactory.
INSPIRATION OF MUSES: GHOSTS, LYME DISEASE, DIFFICULTIES, LOVE, FAMILY
“Worship for us is the art that we publish,” Jennifer said. “We definitely lost a lot of supporters and we lost a lot of dear friends who didn’t understand the transition and transformation we were going through.
“If the carpet hadn’t been ripped from under us, we would still be stuck in that tunnel vision. It just gives us the opportunity to see the world on a bigger scale, to love people where they are – not to think that we have to try to save them or to save them or to fix them, but just to offer them love and kindness. “
Jared said, “Our inspiration comes from our muses: ghosts, Lyme disease, each other, people, struggles, love and family.”
Granted, the obstacles they faced would have derailed most performers, especially Jennifer’s lingering challenges in dealing with Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick a dozen years ago. The tiring disease wreaked havoc on her organs and she spent years seeking the right treatment. She has had to relearn to play the guitar and sing, and she walks with a cane.
“I have to say right out of the door, our chin was hanging pretty low. We really felt upside down. Our whole foundation and balance was torn from under us, ”she said. “I had to give up believing that I was going to be what I once was. It is to accept what is.
They also had to overcome the band’s usual hurdles: their drummer and bassist left, leaving Annagail currently in a trio with keyboardist Justin Dreyer.
But the days are brighter now: their daughter, Faith, who was abducted 11 years ago before being reunited with her family, is now 18 and doing well (their other children are Grace, 15, and Cohen, 9 years old); Jennifer went back to school to earn a degree in Creative Writing and English; Jennifer and Jared are both writing memoirs which they hope to publish while working on Annagail’s next album.
Until the pandemic subsides, live performances may be limited due to Jennifer’s compromised immune system, although they will make an appearance in the Grand Rapids Listening Room in March.
“Gratitude is exponential,” Jennifer said, “and the days when we can record and release new material to the world are a day of massive miracles.”
Deploying these musical miracles meant making the most of their sometimes dire situation – “handling it out loud” as far as the lyrics were concerned.
“It’s sort of realtime lyrics in the sense that we’re writing about what we’re literally experiencing. There aren’t many hypothetical situations in these recent songs. They were very cathartic, ”Jared said. “It looks genuine. Sounds fair.
From the deep wounds of childhood to the almost insurmountable obstacles encountered in adulthood, Annagail’s music resonates with sorrow and hope.
“We bared our souls because it is in the baring of our souls that we begin to heal,” Jared added.
“We want to get up everyday and live as fully as we can. We don’t want to cover up or hide the tough stuff, but we want to say, “Welcome”. What did you come to teach us? And then we want to put on our wings and fly.
Learn more about Annagail here.
In addition to highlighting the music of Annagail, the January 7 episode of Local Spins on WYCE (which focuses on local and regional music at 11 a.m. on Fridays on WYCE 88.1 FM and online at wyce.org) presented new leads by Ada LeAnn, J.Rob, James S. Burkett, Dynaflo, Fiona Dickinson, Normal Mode, The Hacky Turtles, The Bootstrap Boys and Kanola Band, plus a classic song by New radicals (choice of this week’s musicians by Annagail). Listen to the full radio show below and check out previous episodes of Local Spins on WYCE.
PODCAST: local tours on WYCE (1/7/22)
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