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Break Out Into a Street Parade

By Kate Peterson

That is just what Theresa Andersson hopes will happen. Andersson, a Swedish born singer songwriter, and now long-term resident of New Orleans, is happiest making everything mysterious and enchanting—with her music.

Andersson made New Orleans her home after she met fellow singer/songwriter and Swede, Anders Osborne, traveled to the United States, and played violin in his band. They broke up, but she stayed on and since then has become entrenched in the New Orleans music scene.

Entrenched she is. She has the distinguished honor of playing with some of New Orleans most legendary musicians. Andersson has shared a stage with Allen Toussaint, The Neville Brothers, and The Meters, just to name a few.

IN spoke to Andersson during her evacuation from New Orleans during Hurricane Isaac. She has two small children and felt that Fort Walton Beach, Fla. would be a better spot for them to be than her home on Algiers Point, La.

She got her start in music early. “I was singing and performing in Sunday school, I sang solos,” Andersson said. “I loved being in front of an audience.”

Singing in Sunday school is a far cry from playing a big stage, but Andersson has adapted quite well.

“When you play live, real time, the audience gets involved,” Andersson said. “It is important that they see your feet, the audience becomes part of it. Often I record during a set. There are discoveries along the way—I am energized too along the way, and feel the connection to the crowd.”

When she was eighteen, she made the move the U.S. with Osborne, but ended up staying for her own journey. She has been performing her own way ever since.

“I was able to play some all-star jams with Ivan Neville, George Porter and Johnny Vidacovich,” said Andersson.

Being able to play with such prestigious musicians has been a great experience.

“When I first came to New Orleans, they were so welcoming,” she said. “I was sitting in, I was young, shy and new. They made me feel comfortable. It was a huge compliment. They were open-minded and let me play whatever instrument I wanted to play.”

Andersson’s record label is also very open-minded to whatever she wants to do. As she says, “I would not be with them if they weren’t. My music has to come from a true and honest place, what matters is that the music means something.”

She was accepted into the New Orleans Krewe of Muses, an all-female Krewe with an extensive waiting list. Recently, a short documentary was made that chronicles the pre-parade organization and rehearsals that are necessary to put on a good show during Mardi Gras. For her part, she rode atop a crane along the parade route and had choreographed singers and dancers.

Having to evacuate during Hurricane Isaac was a reminder of the impact Katrina had on the city of New Orleans and how the city has since evolved.

“I felt so much was lost, so much at stake,” Andersson recalled. “I was traveling performing my one-woman show. There is a great deal of courage exhibited here, a lot of people showed immense courage. I feel like the music here has become more experimental.”

Andersson uses a special technique called a two loop pedal system. It allows her to record drums, dulcimer, guitar, violin and her voice.

“I used to always have a band, and for practical reasons I came up with this technique,” she said. “It allows for a way to express yourself, incorporate movement and create a different composition.”

Leveraging social media is important to spreading the word about music. Andersson tries to be active on Facebook and Twitter as she considers it an amazing opportunity for free distribution of her music in a creative way. She also publishes songs and videos as free downloads.

Next for Andersson is touring to promote her eighth album, “Street Parade.” She is also mixing new live recordings of songs from the album for release later in the year.

THERESA ANDERSSON
WHAT: Theresa Andersson with El Cantador
WHEN: 9 p.m. Tuesday, September 18
WHERE: Alabama Music Box, 455 Dauphin St., Mobile, Ala.
COST: $10
DETAILS: alabamamusicbox.net