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Sound Circuit

Hartman confronts her fears

6/4/2014

Patresa Hartman is so good, it’s nearly impossible to convince yourself that she hasn’t been doing this her whole life.

“I call last summer ‘my internship,’ where I booked my first actual gigs,” she said, sitting in Royal Mile sipping a beer. “Before that, I’d just done open mics.”

Everything about Hartman’s music belies the strange trip that she’s taken to the stage. Her voice is so good; her songwriting is so tight. You can’t listen to her sing anything at all and not believe that she was born to it. And yet, despite the fact that she grew up singing and was in choirs throughout high school, many people who met her after graduation had no idea.

“I wouldn’t even sing in front of Chris,” she admitted, referring to her husband. “I was with Chris for two years before he knew that I had any kind of musical ability.”

Eventually, it would be a conversation with a friend about fear that would lead her back to the stage.

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“It was 2010,” she recalled. “My friend Holly and I were talking about all these things that we’d wanted to do but were scared to.”

She contemplates for a moment before continuing. “I’ve done so many things that scared me. I ran a marathon. That scared me. I’ve traveled alone for months. But I just couldn’t sing in front of people anymore. To have just amputated something that was that vital to me felt strange and weird. So Holly and I kind of jokingly said we should start a club for people who are afraid to do things. We’ll each pick a thing and do it. So that’s what we did.”

From a half-serious conversation in a bar came open mics, then paying gigs, and now, four years later, an album. This past week, Hartman put the finishing touches on the nine tracks that will comprise her debut, and she speaks of the project with the same effusive humility she approaches nearly everything else with.

“It could be my only one,” she demurred. “I just want to do it because right now I have ideas, and it feels good to do it. I just turned 40, and I’ve got some music that I think is decent. I’d just like to hear it fleshed out with some more instruments and see what that’s like.” CV

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