Gretchen Peters to share pain, love and change with new music – Marietta Daily Journal

Gretchen Peters to share pain, love and change with new music
by Davia L. Mosley

A slew of life events ranging from triumph to tragedy propelled artist Gretchen Peters to record “Hello Cruel World.” She will be sharing her stories and music at 3 p.m. Sunday at East Cobb United Methodist Church at 2325 Roswell Road in Marietta.Peters has recorded five other solo albums, but her songwriting talent won her some of the music industry’s highest honors. She was nominated for a Grammy and won the Country Music Association Song of the Year award for 1995’s “Independence Day” by Martina McBride. Peters has also written songs for artists such as Trisha Yearwood and the late Etta James.

However, the highs and lows of her personal life in recent years influenced her latest endeavor. The year 2010 was “a year of massive changes,” she said.

“I knew there was no question that I would have to grapple with it in some way. I had a lot to get off my chest, but the best way to do it was to really listen to my inner voice and subconscious more. The songs that came out sort of deal with all of those things on a more subterranean level.”

Love found its way back into her life two years ago. Peters is married to Barry Walsh, her friend and colleague of more than 20 years. In 2004, she said the relationship deepened.

“I think we were both sort of in the same place — in a place of assessing where you are, which is something I think people in the middle of their lives want to do,” she said. “We realized that we both had … exactly the same goals and affinities in common. We both felt really strongly about playing music, and we didn’t want to slow down at a time when a lot of people decide that they do.”

Peters said they were drawn together for many reasons. Although they both resisted the idea of marriage because of previous ones, she said, “It sort of seemed inevitable.”

Another change in the family dynamic focused on her child. Although Peters gave birth to a daughter 28 years ago, she now has a son, James, who is transgender. He came out two years ago. Peters said the experience, while jarring, has strengthened their bond.

As a parent of a transgender child, Peters said people should understand that, “No matter what sort of pain you go through, your child’s pain is 10,000 times greater. For someone to keep that sort of secret about themselves and to feel that something is wrong with them their entire lives and then summon the courage to come out — it’s just an incredibly inspiring thing. … He’s the greatest person I know.”

During the time Peters found love and grew closer to her son, she also experienced tragedy when her friend, Tim, committed suicide. He was in his late 50s.

“The thread that ties my friend together with my son and my sort of blooming into this second marriage is that (Tim) was hiding something. He was afraid and hiding his deep depression, feeling there was something wrong with him and not sharing it. (He had) suicidal feelings for years.”

Peters said the loss of her friend was definitely painful, but it brings her back to her son. She said, “This is what’s so triumphant to me about my son’s story. He was able to somehow come out of that place of needing to hide. He was able to share who he was and his real truth. That’s the thread that I see throughout this record and these songs.”

Throughout her life, regardless of the circumstance, Peters said she has always been a strong person. “I was born this way,” she said. “It’s in my nature to move on.

“Setbacks can turn out to be blessings,” she continues. “Living in the past is a mistake. You never know when your trials are going to turn into your best gifts.”

On tour since Jan. 8, Peters said the songs are cathartic, and the fans’ reactions coincide with the emotions of the music.

“There’s a silence there,” she said. “They are really taking in the emotional journey that this album goes on. At the end, there’s sort of a collective sigh. Audience members come up to me crying in the end.”

She’s proud of her latest record, saying it feels like a milestone.

“I love to share songs with people. I feel very grateful to them because I feel like whatever is going on in their lives, somehow these songs reach in and touch them in a place fairly deep,” she said. “There’s some sort of universality about them. Everyone’s details in their lives are different, but I think basically we all go through big things.”

Tickets to the concert are $15. For more information, call the church at (770) 971-3643. To learn more about the artist, visit

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