Lucy Kaplansky: "I Don't Know What a Good Place for a Folk Singer is anymore"
Not many musicians can make the claim of being a clinical psychologists and a singer. As a matter of fact, Lucy Kaplansky may be the only one. Hailing out of New York, Kaplansky has been making quality folk music since 1978. Yet after making initial commercial inroads, Kaplansky went back to school and became a clinical psychologist. Luckily, her own therapy led Kaplansky to return to music in the early '90s.
Courtesy of Red House Records
Speaking from her home and in anticipation of Friday's show at Uncle Calvin's Coffee House, Kaplansky talked with DC9 about her interesting journey back to music and how New York City isn't the place for folk music that it used to be.
Have Your played on Valentine's Day before?
Oh my God, is that when it is? I didn't realize that. I am always working on Valentine's Day.
You live in New York City. Is there a better place to live for a folk singer?
I don't know what a good place for a folk singer is anymore. I am not really part of the music scene in New York. I was a long time ago. It used to be a great place to be a folk singer. I don't think there is much of a folk scene in New York.
When you originally moved to New York, there must have been a great folk scene.
Yes, that was forty years ago. It was a really important scene. I would say now that there is more of a scene for this kind of music in Boston and in Austin.
Being raised in Chicago, were you exposed to some great blues growing up?
No, I grew up listening to what my parents listened to. My dad basically listened to classical music. My brothers listened to rock and roll. I didn't even go to a club until I was 17 and that was when I was introduced to folk music. Back then, folk music was a big deal in Chicago.
Do you think folk music thrives in more liberal communities?
I think that is absolutely true. I hadn't thought about it. I don't know why that is. Probably because of the legacy of folk.
You were in New York on 9/11. Many artists have written songs about the tragedy. Did it affect your music as well?
There were a couple of songs that came directly out of that for sure. I remember thinking, along with a lot of other thoughts I was thinking, whether or not I was going to be able to write anything again. Then, the song that happened just happened. It is called "Land of the Living." My friend John Gorka told me to write down what I saw. That's what that song is, an account of a witness. I think it's human nature to move on and forget. I think 9/11 is always in the back of all New Yorkers' minds. Every time you hear a loud noise, you get nervous.
You got your PhD in clinical psychology. Are you the only folk singer with such a degree?
I think maybe I am. I know someone who is a doctor. I know someone who is an English professor. I must be the only clinical psychologist.