There’s over 9,000 miles between Audrey Auld’s hometown of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and Norman. That doesn’t prevent the singer/songwriter from maintaining strong ties to these parts.
“I’ll be playing my Nov. 3, Winter Wind show with Buffalo, who lives there,” she said. “We met at the Woody Guthrie festival in Oklahoma years ago.”
Auld was referring to long time Norman guitar hero Terry “Buffalo” Ware. She promised a show with lots of laughter and a wide range of songs reflecting human feelings about where she’s from and where she lives now.
“I’ll be playing some songs co-written with inmates at San Quentin prison,” Auld said. “They’re very interesting songs and people love to hear them because it’s a window into what it must be like to be incarcerated.”
Her mission has been to provide writing workshops behind the walls which impart a sense of self worth and affirm they have something of value to offer. She has no academic background as an instructor but became aware that she could share a talent that was easy for her and could help others.
“I enjoy that they’re very honest writers,” Auld said. “In Nashville people are just interested in making a buck but in San Quentin they tell the truth. What else are they going to do? I want people to hear these stories.”
That’s taught the comely Aussie a lesson about her own songwriting. She writes less than in younger days. Now it’s when there’s genuinely something that needs to come out.
“My mother’s been diagnosed with dementia and I’ve had no experience with that before,” Auld said. “So one of my most recent songs is like a prayer for old mothers.”
Her goal is to not clutter up the world with many average compositions but instead craft a few little gems that matter. Auld has learned something else she believes applicable to all artists and art forms. Whether painting, dance or singing, at the core it’s a sharing of energy.
"Just last night I played a house concert for quite a small group who’d never been to one,” she said. “I could feel the transformation in the room by the end of the show. They were moved by the songs and I was very conscious that each one had its own different energy and the range of feelings they were causing.”
The Winter Wind concerts don’t match the intimacy of a home but they are in a listening room where the audience is generally well behaved. Auld has performed there once previously.
“I love that place and have great memories of the train station which is quite unique,” she said. “People come to connect and feel something there.”
This reflection caused Auld to spontaneously comment on the entire state.
“Generally speaking I love going to Oklahoma, it’s warm, friendly and I have great friends there,” she said in her charming Australian accent. “I’m part of that Woody Guthrie Festival family and have been going to perform for 10 years.”
It’s a tight group that other singer/songwriters from outside the state have mentioned fondly. And it should be noted that Okemah, where the festival is held, is not exactly an easy travel, plus it’s in mid-July when our hot weather is usually at its zenith. But many artists are inextricably linked to it and only miss when absolutely necessary.
“It’s familiar, warm and inviting,” Auld said.
She mentioned that the Woody Guthrie festival organizers had arranged for her to conduct a songwriting workshop for Oklahoma women in a substance abuse rehabilitation program while she’s here.
Auld’s music ranges from simple, gentle ballads about love and place to old school American country steeped in heartbreak and booze.
“Americans really get folk music,” she said. “I never really knew what folk music was growing up. In Australia I thought it was big hairy men playing very serious stuff.”
Auld has since discovered it’s more of a grass roots genre here that promiscuously shares a variety of styles. She believes the concert atmospheres can be as satisfying as the music itself.
“People get a sense of community at Winter Wind shows and a feeling of belonging that I think is really important,” Auld observed.
If You Go
What: Audrey Auld with Terry “Buffalo” Ware in concert as part of the Winter Wind Concert Series
Where: Norman Depot, 200 S. Jones Ave.
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 3
Audrey Auld will be bringing her Australian charm to Norman on Sunday.