She’s not sure about the why or how, but Annie Haslam plans to follow the newest phase of her career wherever it takes her.
Just over two years ago, the former Renaissance lead singer and acclaimed solo artist knew the music industry was in transition and a career change would soon be necessary.
“I had a career that anyone would die for but I knew it was time to wind it down, but I didn’t know what to do,” Haslam said from her Upper Bucks County home. “One day I woke up and an actual voice in my head said, ‘It’s time to start oil painting, now.'”
Up to that point she’d done one “dreadful” water color years ago but followed the voice’s direction and bought an easel, paint, canvases and a book on oil painting. The equipment sat in a room that Haslam walked past each day for two months until …
“I woke up one day and knew it was the day,” she said.
A tiger lily from her garden served as her first subject. The painting, admittedly, wasn’t great. Haslam’s third attempt, however, opened a fountain of inspiration that has poured out ever since.
“I didn’t even think about it, I chose colors at random,” she said. “I realized it was the ocean at night with a UFO in the sky. I’ve had a number of UFO experiences in my life.”
A year later a gallery in New Hope gave her a one-woman show and she sold 26 of the 62 paintings in the exhibition. “That was a huge stepping stone and gave me a lot of confidence,” Haslam said.
Over the next two years she produced and sold dozens of paintings through her Web site (www.anniehaslam.com) and a muse that Haslam says comes from “either deep inside of me, from the universe or from deep inside the Earth.”
She has slowed down her feverish painting pace to return to music for a series of dates titled “An Acoustic Evening.” David Sancious, an original member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, will accompany her on keyboards. Al Stewart is the opener for the first three dates, which kick off at the Sunoco Performance Theater at Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
“I said I wouldn’t do music again unless it came easy, if it was not stressful,” Haslam said.
Haslam saw Sancious perform with Francis Dunnery in Philadelphia and knew the time was right to make a return to music.
Her paintings have inspired Sancious to write the music that will accompany Haslam’s lyrics and will be performed at these acoustic shows. Live and studio CDs are in the works.
“It all kind of spread and got a little bigger than I expected,” Haslam said.
But, rekindling her music career may be part of a larger plan based on instinct and intuition.
After surviving breast cancer in the early ’90s, Haslam said she became much more spiritual, an aspect of her life she’s nurtured over the years.
“I believe in a past life and karma, that the people around you have been with you before,” she said. “There are signs around us that help us to move forward but we don’t see them because we’re so consumed with our lives.”
The guiding hand that has made her a painter is one of those hard to ignore signs.
“There’s obviously something going on, definitely something in this, not just a way of making money,” Haslam said. “But, I have a feeling something different is coming again. I just don’t know what it is, yet.”
BARRY FOX: 255-8225 or firstname.lastname@example.org