Folk artist Ellis will be back in Fort Wayne this weekend, bringing stripped-down versions of her introspective acoustic music to The Dash-In. The Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter started touring professionally in the mid-’90s, performing at least 120 shows a year, many at national folk music festivals. Her last gig in Fort Wayne (a fundraiser for Fort Wayne Pride) was four years ago, and she’s itching to return, she says.
When did you start playing music?
I started writing songs in middle school. A classmate of mine took his own life and I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I wrote a song about it. From there, I started writing songs about everything. In high school, I joined a rock band, and by the time I was in college, I realized I wanted to go solo.
I realized I had so many songs, but the band I was in didn’t fit everything I was about. Going in a solo direction is more me. Writing songs that matter, talking about the real stuff of life and making it intimate.
Were you always interested in the singer-songwriter style of music?
My roots are really in country music. I grew up in Texas listening to country, which is all about trying to figure out life – the everyday stuff, everyday people. Country music matters to people. It says, “I’m like you. You’re not alone in your experience.” I wouldn’t classify my music as country, but that sentiment resonates in my heart. I’m coming from the same place.
You’re working on your seventh album, “Right On Time.” When will that be released?
In September. Already, I love the way it’s sounding. I’m not using drums; on several songs, it’s just me and my guitar. But there’s also a little pedal steel and a few other instruments that add really nice textures. They’re not obvious, but they lift the heart and still keep it intimate.
What’s your lyrical focus this time around?
The title track is a good umbrella for the whole record, actually. It’s the idea, “What if we’re right on time?” So often we’re encouraged in our culture to think we are somehow behind schedule. We’re always trying to catch up, get everything done we need to get done.
So, the idea is not to buy into it?
Yes. I don’t want to buy into it myself. I want to find away around that whole mind-set and celebrate this life, my life as a musician. It might not always be this way for any of us; we’re so focused on what’s next. It becomes hard to appreciate or see the good stuff while it’s here.
The time is now, folk artist says