At a 'standstill,' Cleveland singer-songwriter Erin Burke wants to recommit to her music
This story is part of a series of on-the-street interviews conducted by Xeaiver Bullock, a student at Lake Erie College and a 2022 Ideastream Public Media summer intern, as part of Ideastream Public Media's "Sound of Us" initiative to tell stories Northeast Ohioans want to tell.
Burke, who also works in customer service, describes her music as "Christian alternapop." Vocal problems have forced her to dial back her performance calendar since about 2017, but she still writes songs and plays guitar.
She and Xeaiver spoke at the Party in the Park music festival in Painesville.
Xeaiver: So what gave you the passion to sing?
Erin: I wanted to be cool in middle school, and I didn't know any songs at all. And I was on my way to, like, sixth grade camp, and we had a radio bus, and all my friends were singing these, like, Beyoncé songs. And I'm like, 'I don't know any of this.' And then I go back home that weekend. When I got home and I was like, 'I'm going to learn it all.' And I did. And then I just started to sing it.
Xeaiver: So when did you know you was good at it?
Erin: The first time I sang in front of people — whatever the sound was that came out of my voice, people enjoyed it. When I first got on a microphone and I had a solo, everybody turned when they heard what was coming out of me. And I was like,
'Whoa, that's pretty cool.'
Xeaiver: Do you write your own music?
Erin: I do.
Xeaiver: How many songs have you written?
Erin: Not a lot. Just because, like, I mainly am a singer. I've never been, like, the most passionate about songwriting. I do have a co-writer. We have a song out called "Bible" under Road North Music.
Xeaiver: What is your favorite story about you singing?
Erin: I was singing and this little girl, she was 3, this little girl really liked what she saw. She wanted to come up on stage. And I said, 'Do you want to come up here?' And she did. And she said, after about 5 minutes of dancing on stage, she goes, 'OK, I'm ready.' She sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." She was on key, on time. It really just amazes me how soon music can become a part of your life.
Music videos and overcoming boredom
Xeaiver: You've done music videos of your songs. What's your favorite?
Erin: I like my "Long Gone" video. That one's cool because I drive my dad's [Oldsmobile] 442. And one of my best friends is, like, the bad guy in the video.
Xeaiver: How do you feel like where you're at now? How do you feel about your life so far?
Erin: Well, I'm 28 and not married. I, you know, my passion is kind of put to a standstill right now. And I just kind of have this day job that I'm really bored at. I do customer service. And I get to work with customers and connect with people, but I don't — it's just boring.
Xeaiver: I've been walking around and I was like, 'She looks like she's got a good story.' And I ran into a singer who's chasing her passion, at a standstill in life, but still has the opportunity to turn it around. I got a great story, and you'll probably get plays from this. So just go do it!
Erin: OK! [laughs]
Xeaiver: All right. Last question. Is there anything else you've been thinking about? Like a question that you wish I would have asked or just something that you really want to talk about?
Erin: I'll just say this. It was a blessing to talk to you. It's such a special moment to have somebody walk up to you and you've done such a good job. You're going to be in my prayers. Like, just, I think you ... there's just a spark about your personality and you've just, again, got that willingness to, to move forward with your life. And it's inspiring for me. And so that helps me. And so thank you.
Xeaiver: Well, that was really nice. [laughs] I'm going to go back and listen to the interview and listen to "Bible." You all have a great night. Thank you.