Collin Dever / Valencia Voice

By Walter Frazier
[email protected]

American singer/songwriter Susan Werner performed her blend of contemporary folk music live for Visions and Voices, Valencia’s distinguished artists series Feb. 5 at East Campus’ Performing Arts Center.

Werner attempted to keep the audience entertained and she did this successfully with not only her voice or the playing of her piano and guitars, but she also managed to squeeze jokes in between songs.

“I thought her performance was phenomenal,” said Anne Marie Pierre, a viewer and student, “she was actually really funny too.”

Werner started her career as a voice major at the University of Iowa and Temple University where she received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Soon after discovering her passion for folk music she started to write songs and play shows around the country, later settling down in Chicago.

Werner began singing classical music at the age of 5 but said,”I started out singing classical music and quickly realized I was not good enough, so I transitioned into folk music.”Her latest album, “Classics,” is a rendition of the style of pop music from the early sixties and seventies, but she has also released several other albums in the past that have elements of jazz, gospel, and country.

Proving to be a versatile and engaging performer she played at a Peter, Paul, and Mary PBS special in 1998 as one of the best of the next generation of folk singers. At the event Werner performed such hits as “Sunday Mornings,” “I Can’t be New” and “(Why is Your) Heaven So Small,” which was later revealed at the question and answer segment to be inspired by a man in Chicago who was harassing people that were entering a gay rights organization.

A great number of her songs deal with controversial issues including religion, government, and relationships. However, not all of her songs are about liberal topics. She also writes many traditional pop songs that deal with subjects that are less unorthodox.

Trina Hamlin accompanied Werner during the set, playing the harmonica and light percussion. Once Werner finished playing, She and Hamlin offered the audience to visit the East Campus music room, where they were welcome to perform alongside them.

The next artist performing for Visions and Voices is Author Barry Lopez on March 5 at Valencia’s Osceola Campus in Building 2-101 at 1:15 p.m.

—Additional reporting by Amanda Perrin