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Rock singer Anne E. DeChant entertains in her hometown of Avon Lake at the Folger Home

June 18, 2018

Rock singer Anne E. DeChant entertains in her hometown of Avon Lake at the Folger Home

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- Wikipedia has this to say about Anne E. DeChant: Anne E. DeChant is an American rock singer/songwriter/guitarist originally based in the Cleveland area. Her career began with the promising band Odd Girl Out in the early 1990s before releasing her first solo project in 1996. Since then, she (has) won regional awards and opened for top-10 pop groups, and continues to share the stage with national acts.

All true, but there is so much more to her. After a sentimental appearance in her hometown of Avon Lake at the historic Folger Home, she chatted about her life and her music.

DeChant left Avon Lake at age 19 to go to Miami University of Ohio. But her memories of growing up in Avon Lake are vivid.

“I remember Avon Lake being filled with woods all around us. I credit the local geography with my connection to everything -- that in nature, everything is connected. It was also my playground. I was a hyperactive child and the natural environment allowed that,” she said.

She said the way she was raised formed who she is today. Early on, her mother noted that she knew her daughter would leave.

“She could see for me and my distinct personality that somehow she knew I needed to stretch the ties a little bit to create myself,” DeChant said.

Her family remains in the area.

“I come back at least three times a year,” she said. “My mom, dad and sister and brother are here.”

By “here” she means Lakewood and Wakeman, too, as current family territory.

Her appearance at the Folger Home came about after she befriended Gerry Vogel, a mainstay volunteer of all things during the renovation and preservation of the early 19th century summer home of the local Folger family.

She shared songs from her new album, “Lost in Kentucky,” as well as prior songs that so many know. She likes to say that her show “includes memories of the small town that grew me.”

“I know the history of the Folger Home,” she said. “I even had some cousins involved in it. I would get news from my parents about it. I also have a great-grandmother on my mother’s side, Clara Tomanek, who was one of the first citizens of Avon Lake.”

DeChant’s connection to the area is strong. She defines it as, “I knew the roots that grew the tree.”

And grow she did. She moved to Nashville, and has been there now for 10 years. Is it still the land of big dreams, she was asked?

“I saw it that way before I moved there,” she said. “Twenty-five years ago, that was possible, the big dreams, but now it is just called the music business.”

She explained that the dreamers who made their musical pilgrimages to Nashville had more access to the artists then.

“It is more challenging now,” she said. “But this is still the place where the American dream exists. It is just harder fought in music now.”

Overall, she said, it’s not what she thought it would be. “There is so much talent there it is mind boggling.”

About 50 people squeezed into the Folger Home to hear DeChant’s original music and lyrics, along with her beautiful voice, which has only become richer over the years.

She spoke about how the years, and the hard work, in Nashville have made her better.

“It helped me continue my progress as a writer and performer in a great way. At first, you don’t know what you are doing.”

She tried honing her craft in every direction. First, it was writing for radio -- songs for other performers -- but people kept telling her that she was a performer more than a writer.

Later, a professional in the business, upon hearing her singing, told her she needed to do it all -- write for herself, then sing the song.

She said it was a light bulb moment. “I was ready to hear it,” she said.

She compared that moment to learning a new golf swing. You try over and over and, at last, you get it.

“I found my golf swing. He helped me find myself as a writer. I am no longer waiting for someone else to define me.”

One of her college professors who had hear her sing at community dinners told her, “Thank God you finally recognized your talent.”

So what is next for her in her ever expanding career?

“My goals now are continuing to explore how to improve my live show, and I am wanting to take a leap forward in the kind of places I perform. I want to play strictly listening rooms. (No distractions in the room.)”

“I think I have earned that after 25 years, and I am willing to see what happens. This feels right to me, my authentic self. This is who I am, even after all the ups and downs,” she said.

In her songs, DeChant is a storyteller. She tells stories about life, hard times and heartbreak, as well as social issues. As she did when she was a girl, she lives her surroundings and pays attention to details, giving her lyrics a special touch.

She has an active live show that she performs around both the Cleveland and Nashville areas, but also tours other states, where she entertains a strong fan base. She has even performed at the White House.

There is no doubt that DeChant’s talented, authentic self has much more ahead of her. But it’s also nice to know that she remembers, and appreciates, her roots.

“An artist and writer is who I am,” she said. “I continue to find my way just like all of you. Avon Lake established my roots, and those roots are what grew this tree that is always reaching up, out and under, wanting to know who you are, who I am, thereby who we all are. I care to celebrate that with my songs.”

For more, visit www.anneedechant.com.