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Untold Stories Revealed in Song

Amy Carol Webb co-headlines last Focus concert of the season.

Amy Carol Webb loves that moment when she’s performing live, that flash of camaraderie she witnesses in an attentive audience. "The thing that happens in the room when we realize that we’re not all that different from each other," she said. "The differences are in the details, but we’re all rowing the same boat."

Focus Music, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing folk and acoustic music to the regional masses, has helped facilitate concert settings that allow artists like Webb to connect with their audiences in a personal way.

"These venues are created by people that are as inventive as the artists they’re created for," she said. "They’re passionate about it, they keep us alive, and we are so grateful for it."

Webb joins singer/songwriter Deidre McCalla for the final Focus Music show of the season on Sunday, June 10 at 7 p.m. at Church of the Resurrection, 2280 North Beauregard St. in Alexandria. Tickets are $15 general, $12 members; more information about the show and Focus can be found by calling 703-380-3151 or visiting www.focusmusic.org. Katy Coyte of Focus said the folk music promoters will take the summer off after this show.

WEBB GREW UP in what could be called a living musical with her family. "Music was breathing in our house. I didn’t know that people weren’t singing all of the time until I got to college," she said.

The Miami Springs, Fla. resident started playing guitar at age 11, played gigs by age 14 and has been touring on and off through her recent 50th birthday. He voice has been compared to that of Janis Ian and Carole King; her music combines the poetry of her life experiences with a keen ear for the details of other people’s lives.

"I play power folk that focuses on the triumph of the human spirit," said Webb. "I think it’s our privilege and responsibility as artists to tell the stories that maybe other people haven’t been able to tell for themselves yet. There are people who do amazing things every day for the course of their lives, and those stories don’t always get told. The way our media and news systems work, we tend to focus on the things that people do that are of a lesser human nature. I think artists have a responsibility to shine the light on people that are doing amazing things with their lives."

Shining that light becomes easier, she said, when organizations like Focus Music are able to craft concerts that accentuate the qualities of her art.

"This is a particular kind of interactive listening music, and it takes a certain kind of venue for it to really shine," she said. "That doesn’t always work in clubs where there’s a lot of other stuff going on. It’s very old fashioned, where people turn their own home spaces and particular haunts into places where the music can come alive. It’s almost an underground kind of concept."

JOINING WEBB is Deidre McCalla, a veteran folk artist who got her start in New York City and has shared stages with the likes of Tracy Chapman and Suzanne Vega. An eclectic artist who also blends country and pop into her music, she now lives outside of Atlanta and is the co-founder of Family Pride of the South, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families.

Herb Cooper-Levy of Focus Music said both Webb and McCalla are acts that, in the past, would have been at home in some of the more prominent concert venues in the area. "These are all national touring acts that, back when The Birchmere was smaller, would have played The Birchmere. But now that it’s about two-and-a-half times the size it used to be, the acts can’t fill that space so we stepped in to fill the void."

Webb said the combination of McCalla and the Focus Music support system makes this a show she’s excited about. "This is a group of people that have really come together to support the community of music in that area. I’m really excited to get to work with them, and I love Deidre McCalla," she said.