Toby Lightman recently made an appearance at the Hard Rock Café in Louisville to play a benefit concert for Music Rising. The charity that helps replace musical equipment lost or damaged by Hurricane Katrina. LEO caught up with her by phone to talk to her about New Orleans, and her new album, Bird on a Wire.
Where were you when Hurricane Katrina hit?
I was in Manhattan. My boyfriend’s actually from Louisiana, so we were talking to a lot of people down there. We didn’t know it was going to be as bad as it was.
How did you react to the devastation?
You feel very detached from something like that when you don’t actually see it. The anger started to set in when nobody was helping. That was a bigger deal to me almost than the hurricane itself.
Where did the name Bird on a Wire come from?
I was trying to think what would capture the overall essence of the record. My uncle (Aaron Lightman) made a folk record that had an illustration of a bird on a wire, and I used that illustration for a song called “Alone.” It means to put yourself in a position of vulnerability.
What was your approach on these songs?
It was different for every song. Every song conveys a different emotion. You have your whole life up until that point to do your first record, and then for your second, nine months.
When did you start singing?
I started singing in high school. I didn’t really know that I could up until that point. I played violin, and took a vocal class to get more credits (toward graduation). I was really shy. As a violinist, you’re making something else make sound, you’re not making sound.